Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

For The Law Enforcement Officer:

Reconsidering “Defensive Tactics

MOST encounters with the citizenry are, for most law enforcement officers, most of the time, not violent, aggressive, or threatening. That is one of the things that makes law enforcement work, as opposed to military operations, always very dangerous. The simple fact of the matter is: Anyone whom a police officer encounters for even the most minor of reasons could be a vicious killer. There is simply no way to reliably tell beforehand who is the one-in-five -thousand dangerous and fanatical nutjob murderers amongst the sea of people that a police officer on daily patrol circulates amongst, routinely. The dangerous bad guy could be anyone. The outlaw biker who is stopped might be very passive and cooperative. The fellow who is pulled over for going through a stop sign might pull a gun and try to kill the officer. There’s no way to know beforehand.

Good cops don't want to hurt people. But the need to get suspects under control when they are noncooperative is often difficult and physically demanding. Good arrest and control holds, applied when a suspect is mildly resistant but not dangerously aggressive, will enable an officer to secure that suspect. It's getting the suspect to the point where he is no longer a threat to the officer, to himself, or to the innocent public that is the challenge.

Good cops don't want to hurt people. But the need to get suspects under control when they are noncooperative is often difficult and physically demanding. Good arrest and control holds, applied when a suspect is mildly resistant but not dangerously aggressive, will enable an officer to secure that suspect. It's getting the suspect to the point where he is no longer a threat to the officer, to himself, or to the innocent public that is the challenge.

Members of the general public, generally speaking, have little understanding of just how potentially dangerous police work is. Most especially in cases where a situation is deadly, lay persons often expect the impossible of our uniformed protectors. “Why didn’t you shoot the gun out of his hand?” is an actual question that officers have heard, after an officer — properly — shoots down an armed individual who had already been given a command to put down the weapon. “Well, he only had a knife! The cop could have taken it away from him; after all the cop was bigger and stronger than that guy!” is close enough to the kind of nonsense that is often heard after a good cop shoots an individual who fails to open his hand and let the knife that he is holding in it, drop to the ground.

But the corker is when an unarmed felon — or an officer using only his hands and feet against a felon — draws out the Florence Nightingale in members of the public: “Why didn’t that officer just put him in a hold and control him? The guy didn’t have a weapon. He only started to punch at the officer.” Or: “I don’t see why three cops were needed to get the guy under control. One of them could have just put him in a hold and made him surrender.”

Arrest, control, compliance, and restraint skills do have a place in the preparation of police officers for the carrying out of their mission. No doubt about it: There are times when a suspect is more nervous than dangerous, and there are instances

when a suspect is throwing his effort solely into pulling away or backing off from an officer who must make an arrest, than he is endeavoring to attack or to directly threaten the officer, per se.

No one is a more vigorous opponent of the abuse of police powers or the unjustifiable application of force than our self; however, we are also 100% behind the good cop, and we don’t want to see any law enforcer injured or killed because he failed to use appropriate and necessary force, or because he hesitated to do so, out of fear that his career would be jeopardized and he might even face criminal charges.

So how do we prepare officers properly for their job? How can we be reasonably sure that a graduate of basic academy is fully equipped to manage that rare — but not unlikely, eventual — instance of serious hand-to-hand violence, as well as those situations where only controlling but non-injurious force is required? While realizing that I am going to antagonize a lot of those who train police and who are responsible for training police today when I say this, I am going to say it, nevertheless: Police academies do not graduate adequately prepared officers insofar as hand-to-hand combat and arrest-and-control skills using bare hands is concerned. All too often an officer is quickly shown a few unworkable holds or grips, and given scant instruction in the appropriate context for the application of such techniques. These techniques — even the few relatively good ones — must never be attempted to control a violent, attacking individual; nor should they ever be attempted to restrain a strong, aggressive and violent resisting individual who has been told that he is under arrest and who clearly makes his intention to get away known to the officer.

Realistic training for law enforcement officers should, first and foremost, cover serious unarmed combat. There are times in the carrying out of law enforcement duties when an enforcement officer is wholly justified in using every dirty, deadly, vicious trick and technique of close combat that he knows — and this should frankly be stated, acknowledged, and taught in basic academy.

Sometimes — only sometimes — when numeric superiority permits, a violently resisting suspect can be subdued without seriously injuring him. In the photo we see two cops restraining a young, tough, resistant suspect. Were a lone officer have to contend with such an individual's use of force against him, we would NOT advocate the officer's use of control holds.

Sometimes — only sometimes — when numeric superiority permits, a violently resisting suspect can be subdued without seriously injuring him. In the photo we see two cops restraining a young, tough, resistant suspect. Should a lone officer have to contend with such an individual's use of force against him, we would NOT advocate that officer's use of control holds.

When subjected to a fierce unarmed attack, or possibly when attacked by an adversary armed with a knife, bottle, club, etc. and unable to access his sidearm, the properly trained law enforcement officer should be trained to meet and defeat this attacker with decisive, no-nonsense combat skills — exactly as the soldier or marine is (or ought to be) trained to do.

There is no good reason, save political nonsense, why a police recruit should not be given at least 75 to 100 solid hours of unarmed combat training during his basic academy program. My recommendation would be to devote perhaps 20 to 25 hours to arrest and control skills (not of the kind that are generally taught, however), and the rest to war-proven, lifesaving unarmed close combat.

Officers who have been adequately trained and who possess the inevitable poise and confidence that this training imparts will be less likely to ever abuse their authority or exercise greater force than necessary when on the job. It is inevitably the officer who lacks ability and confidence, and who is unsure of himself and of his ability to handle a situation, who lashes out unnecessarily and/or who sadistically abuses a suspect or overreacts to a situation. That law enforcement agencies have a responsibility to train their people to the highest levels of practical proficiency possible during the limited time available during basic academy, should be self-evident.

Since I have elsewhere on this site, as well as on our other site (www.americancombato.com) gone into the matter of serious, anything-goes combatives, I want to address what I believe is the best curriculum for preparing officers for arrest-and-control skills.

In my System, American Combato (Jen•Do•Tao), I teach the following basic control techniques to police:

• The Japanese double arm lock

• The bar hammerlock

• The twisting hammerlock

• The straight arm bar

• The straight arm lock

These five techniques permit an officer to subdue a suspect from any position and to take speedy control regardless of the movement of the suspect. These are techniques to be employed exclusively when a suspect is deemed non-dangerous and only mildly resisting but not attacking the officer. They must never be attempted under conditions when a violently aggressive suspect must be dealt with.

We do NOT recommend such holds as Fairbairn’s “Thumb Hold” (or its modern derivative counterpart, the “gooseneck”). Nor do we recommend or endorse intricate aikido-type wrist manipulations. These cannot be applied against anyone who merely pulls away when the attempt is made to apply them, unless the user is a powerful, highly experienced black belt expert with large, strong hands. Most of the popular ju-jutsu type wrist, arm, and finger-locking skills are too dependent upon fine motor articulations to be effective.

Nor do we recommend the “sleeper” hold. This renamed judo naked choke hold can kill a man who has cardiovascular problems and who is in poor physical shape. What is more important, it takes an expert to apply the naked choke hold correctly under actual “street” conditions. Tough, young black belt judo players can employ the naked choke safely in judo contests; but the hold is too risky for non-expert application against persons who are not dangerous, and whose state of health and physical condition is unknown. All choke holds and strangulation techniques should be reserved for use in dangerous emergencies; they should not be used for restraint and control of mildly resistant suspects.

Guidelines For The Use Of Restraint And Control Techniques:

This is what I teach police officers when I instruct them formally in the five techniques that I employ . . .

• Be certain that your suspect is more nervous than aggressive. If he’s pulling away, attempting to leave, etc. then the application of a control hold may be advisable.

• The odds are on your side when you are bigger and stronger than the suspect. Be really careful about deciding to try such techniques on someone whose size and apparent strength clearly surpass your own.

ALWAYS precede the application of any of the five actions by disorienting (but not injuring) the suspect with a fast blow — to his ear, to his nose, to his shinbone, etc. — which maximizes your opportunity to get the hold in place.

• Every hold that works depends upon two things:

1) Pain

2) Off-balancing the suspect

• Know exactly how to followup immediately should the suspect begin to violently oppose your application of the hold, indicating that he intends to fight with you.

• Never, ever attempt to “force” the hold to work. Learn it well. Apply it after suitably disorienting the suspect, and employ appropriate force to secure the situation. But, if you encounter resistance that foils your attempt to hold the suspect, shift to more serious measures. (Remember: He may attempt to seize your sidearm while you engage in a struggle with him! Or, he may viciously attack you using much more serious actions than the one you are now fumbling with.)

There are many, many other aspects to officer survival and to the management of the dangerous and violent components of police work. I am not a police training “specialist”, but if there is sufficient interest amongst those officers who visit our sites, then I may offer more articles on related matters in the future.

We are 100% behind those who serve in the law enforcement profession honorably and well. We hope that we have provided some measure of assistance to them in this article.

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Sunday, February 27th, 2011

You Need Weapons, Too!

“Self-defense is not necessarily an unarmed undertaking!” Prof. Steiner (From a seminar given in early 1980’s)

“SWORD, nine foot pole, nunchucks, manriki-gusari, jo stick, tonfa, sai, sythe-ball-and-chain, shuriken, shaken, three sectional staff, butterfly knives, etc.” All of these and many more are classical/traditional weapons of the Asian martial arts, and no one can argue against the value of learning and practicing them today, in the 21st century — unless practical application of skills in close combat and self-defense is the student’s objective.

The modern student of self-defense is wasting his time, money, and energy learning how to use weapons that are antiquated. Yet, for some odd reason, the appeal of antiquated weaponry is enormous, and people who would — if they could — literally ban fighting knives and combat handguns from being sold, owned, and used by the citizenry, have no problem embracing the study of ancient arms like it was a holy endeavor!

Well, the “martial arts” field has always been a bit strange, and while we shall have to accept with resignation that many will (insanely) continue to believe that working out for hours with a nine foot staff makes great sense, while training to employ a .45 automatic is somehow “wrong” (i.e. antisocial), we cannot urge our visitors and students too strongly: MASTER MODERN WEAPONS FOR MODERN, PRACTICAL SELF-DEFENSE!

You don’t want to discover that defending your family in a home invasion by employing nunchucks, throwing stars, or a samurai sword just won’t work. The price is too high for learning that particular lesson “through experience”. Antiquated weapons are strictly for the classicist and his formal training in the dojo. (So long as the classical/traditional martial arts man knows this, there is no problem).

This is a fine representative example of the ultimate modern weapon for self-defense and close combat, when a shoulder weapon is unavailable: The venerable Colt .45 automatic pistol. Revolvers are every bit as serviceable. Whenever possible, avail yourself of firearms for serious defense of self, home, property, and family.

This is a fine representative example of the ultimate modern weapon for self-defense and close combat, when a shoulder weapon is unavailable: The venerable Colt .45 automatic pistol. Revolvers are every bit as serviceable. Whenever possible, avail yourself of firearms for serious defense of self, home, property, and family.

It has always amazed me that people who possess the intelligence to appreciate the importance of learning how to defend themselves are so often foolish enough to reject the ultimate tools — firearms — with which that task may best be accomplished. There are men and women who hold black belts who actually carry pepper spray as their “sidearm”!

The Fairbairn-Sykes commando fighting knife. A fine example of the kind of knife that makes sense for personal protection and hand-to-hand combat, if you are a soldier.

The Fairbairn-Sykes commando fighting knife. A fine example of the kind of knife that makes sense for personal protection and hand-to-hand combat, if you are a soldier.

Obviously, criminals, terrorists, troublemakers, and many kinds of bullies have no such problem. They use firearms and edged weapons routinely . . . and, as any honest person who has checked into the matter knows very well, no law written has ever deterred criminals from owning and using whatever weapons those laws may have been written to ban. History has taught decent men that an armed state and a disarmed populace is hell on earth — or “tyranny” if you prefer a more succinct term — and common horse sense has made it unavoidable for even fools to understand that they can accomplish much more when they undetake a task with those tools that have been designed to facilitate the achievement of that task, than they would be able to accomplish bare-handed.

Weapons are the tools of liberty.

Weapons are the tools of self, family, property, and home defense. They are absolutely essential, and they are, above all, the province of the private citizen in a free, proper, human society.

The stout walking stick is an excellent weapon. It is in your hand, it is unobtrusive, it is legal, and — if you will train to use it correctly — it can be deadly when needed to defend against violent attackers.

The stout walking stick is an excellent weapon. It is in your hand, it is unobtrusive, it is legal, and — if you will train to use it correctly — it can be deadly when needed to defend against violent attackers.

Tyrants and their thugs want a disarmed population. Hardly difficult to understand why this is so. During the middle ages the “royalty” imposed crossbow bans. When you figure out why, you will understand the mentality of the power luster in office who seeks to disarm the private citizenry of firearms and of other modern weapons.

Weapons are the tools of liberty, security, and self, family, home, and property defense. They are an extension of the body and mind of the individual who possesses and who utilizes them, and — with no mind or will of their own — the weapons are as “good” or as “evil” as whoever is using them.

You need weapons in your training for self-defense and close combat.

Without wishing to deliberately incur the ire of any instructors out there, we present these thoughts and urgings for the benefit of all who wish to be fully prepared to defend themselves — realistically, and well. If the school and teacher with whom you are training either insists upon classical weaponry only or disdains weapons as being “unnecessary for self-defense”, FIND A BETTER SCHOOL AND A MORE REALISTIC, PROFESSIONAL TEACHER!

Training in modern weapons is essential in order to be fully prepared to defend against such weapons. The utterly ridiculous and absurdly unrealistic GARBAGE that is routinely taught as “weapon defense” in so many schools and seminars today would doubtless not be so enthusiastically presented if those who taught it actually understood what the weapons against which they purport to be training people to defend could do — and if they understood and were adept at using those weapons, themselves.

You will not find anyone who can use a fighting knife properly advocating knife “takeaways”. Nor will you observe anyone who is a combative marksman (not a competition shooter, but someone who is genuinely competent with the  combat use of the handgun/shotgun. carbine) training people to wrest pistols or shoulder weapons away from their adversaries, and deftly reverse roles, taking the evildoer into custody(!) without harming him!Such fantasies are indulged and passed on by those who are masters of iaijutsu and nunchucks — but who attempt to train their charges in dealing with modern weapons, in the hands of real life enemies!

Okay. Hopefully I’ve made my point. If you still wish to believe that a little canister of pepper spray will stop those two vicious gang members who decide to stomp you to death, that’s your decision. And if cracking your own head every now and then in an effort to master the nunchucks, so that you can handle an assailant with a knife, or defeat a few street louts still seems practical, do as you wish.

But, summing up for those who are with me:

• Classical/traditional weapons are the sole province of the classicist and the etheticist, or the historian. They are ridiculous for modern, real world personal protection.

Firearms are at the head of the “weapons for self-defense” list — no matter what absurd misgivings anyone may have in regard to them.

• You will want to master the handgun, the fighting knife, the stick, and unconventional/improvised weaponry along with your unarmed offense and defense. Otherwise you are fooling yourself in regard to “preparation for self-defense”.

When you train and practice integrate weaponry into your regimen. Treat weapons as an extension of not only yourself, but of the unarmed skills that you train so hard and long to perfect and to make your own. Then you will become truly prepared; prepared for anything. You will ultimately be in possession of all of the necessary tools that defense against dangerous aggression requires — natural, as well as manufactured.

Best of luck!

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Friday, February 25th, 2011

“Pick Your Gun”

(And please choose it wisely!)

GUN nuts tend to be relatively harmless (if annoying) people. They love guns, which of course is not a bad thing, but they make such a big damn deal out of every single issue, matter, question, statement, and so forth pertaining to guns, that those who fall more into the “non gun nut” category than they do into the gun nut category cannot get a simple, straight answer out of them, when and if these people need some basic counsel on obtaining and learning how to use a defensive pistol. (If you doubt that which I am saying, go into any large gunshop when there are three or four patrons checking out the weapons under the glass counter, and ask the proprietor “Which handgun would you recommend for self-defense?” This question will certainly elicit an answer . . . from the proprietor, from any assistants he may have in the store with him, and almost without doubt from each of the patrons present at the time. Each individual will have reams of advice, tons of “information”, and — forgive me — a shitload of “war stories “proving” that what he says has been substantiated by the limitless experiences and researches that the fellow has done into the matter of handgun combat1). After two hours of listening to a lot of babble that is about as interesting as a dial tone, you won’t know any more about that which you had originally inquired than you did hen you put the question to the man behind the counter.

But am I being fair? Is it a simple matter to select a suitable handgun if you lack experience and knowledge of the subject? Yes it is. And for those who would like a little primer on choosing a handgun for personal defense that is not tainted by any commercial interests, here it is:

Your first step should be to attend a good class of instruction in proper gun handling, firearms safety, and weapon familiarization. Don’t buy any gun until you know how to handle one correctly and safely, and you are comfortable firing it. A good basic course will enable you to try out different handguns, and you will get to know your own preferences (something every bit as important as any “expert” recommendations, once you’ve become a bit knowledgeable, yourself).

The author's favorite — but only because it is an excellent and reliable manstopping weapon; not because it is the "only" choice for everyone. If you opt for the venerable Colt .45 however, it sure won't let you down!

The author's favorite — but only because it is an excellent and reliable manstopping weapon; not because it is the "only" choice for everyone. If you opt for the venerable Colt .45 however, it sure won't let you down!

"Okay Mr. Commando — pick your gun!" From that great movie, SWORD OF GIDEON. Realistically, the Mossad instructor criticizes his student's choice of a .44 magnum revolver. "You are a secret agent," he chastises. "In your job a little gun is enough!" This is an excellent and true point. One must select one's handgun or handguns according to one's personal requirements. The Dirty Harry movies were wonderful. But do not opt for a six inch barrel .44 magnum if you are a 5'6" tall fellow weighting 140 pounds. Attempting to conceal it will make you look like a flagpole thief!

"Okay Mr. Commando — pick your gun!" From that great movie, SWORD OF GIDEON. Realistically, the Mossad instructor criticizes his student's choice of a .44 magnum revolver. "You are a secret agent," he chastises. "In your job a little gun is enough!" This is an excellent and true point. One must select one's handgun or handguns according to one's personal requirements. The Dirty Harry movies were wonderful. But do not opt for a six inch barrel .44 magnum if you are a 5'6" tall fellow weighting 140 pounds. Attempting to conceal it will make you look like a flagpole thief!

I have had training with and have been certified by two individuals who are rather well known throughout the world: the late Col. Rex Applegate, and the late Col. Jeff Cooper. I have also received instruction from a former FBI counterintelligence agent who had himself learned under William E. Fairbairn (Rex Applegate’s original wartime mentor). I have carried a weapon 24/7 in the past, and I am reasonably knowledgeable about the subjects of close combat, self-defense, and individual fighting weaponry. The use of the combat handgun is a part of the first degree Black Belt curriculum in American Combato (Jen•Do•Tao).

I am not a competition shooter, and have no more interest in competition shooting than I have in competitive unarmed “martial arts”. I am only concerned with close combat and self-defense — with and without weapons.

"The PPK has a delivery like a brick through a plate glass window," advises Major Boothroyd, when "M", the head of MI6 insists that Bond stop carry "that damn beretta!". Actually, the .380 Walther PPK is not a good choice for most individuals as a basic self-defense weapon. The sidearm is a choice of clandestine intelligence operatives, but only when they are unable to carry a much more formidable piece: like a .45 Colt automatic! Enjoy those great old Bond movies; but do not look to them for adice on how to arm yourself.

"The PPK has a delivery like a brick through a plate glass window," advises Major Boothroyd, when "M", the head of MI6 insists that Bond stop carrying "that damn beretta!". Actually, the .380 Walther PPK is not a good choice for most individuals as a basic self-defense weapon. The sidearm is a choice of clandestine intelligence operatives, but only when they are unable to carry a much more formidable piece: like a .45 Colt automatic! Enjoy those great old Bond movies; but do not look to them for adice on how to arm yourself.

The technique of shooting that you will need to acquire for self-defense is simple. It is that technique first advanced by William Fairbairn in the early part of the 20th century, and later perfected and spread by Rex Applegate. It is the POINT SHOOTING technique. For combat and self-defense you can put aside the technique that was marketed by Jeff Cooper. It’s a fine approach to shooting — but only for competition match shooting; not for shooting at close quarters when the enemy is a live person who has a knife or who is shooting at you.

But back to weapon selection.

If you enjoy firearms and will work hard on a regular basis to acquire serious proficiency, I strongly recommend a semiautomatic pistol of no less than 9mm caliber. Personally, my choice is .45 caliber, but if you are skilled a 9mm or .40 caliber will do.

One of the original Browning Hi-Power 9mm pistols. The later Belgium made models cae without the ring hammer — but all of the originals were, in the author's opinion, fabulous weapons. The 9mm would be the lowest caliber to be considered "acceptable" in most cases, and this pistol is a natural pointer and as rugged as a handgun could ever possibly be.

One of the original Browning Hi-Power 9mm pistols. The later Belgium made models cae without the ring hammer — but all of the originals were, in the author's opinion, fabulous weapons. The 9mm would be the lowest caliber to be considered "acceptable" in most cases, and this pistol is a natural pointer and as rugged as a handgun could ever possibly be.

The .380 is extremely popular, but I do not recommend it for personal protection. I would not go with less than a 9mm.

If I had to settle for a 9mm (it would not be my first choice) then I would want a Belgium made Browning Hi-Power. For a .45 automatic I would select  either a Colt, a Kimber, or a Springfield Armory . .  . in that order.

If you simply want a weapon for defense and are willing to learn how to handle it correctly, but are unwilling to train regularly once you’ve acquired basic skill, go with a revolver. I would prefer a .357 with a four inch barrel. The old Smith and Wesson Combat Magnum Model 19 or 66 (the “66” is stainless steel) or the three inch barrel Military and Police round butt Model 13 or 65 (the “65” is stainless steel) are ideal. They are rugged, reliable, no frills pistols, and although you’ll have to hunt for the original versions, they’re worth the search effort, and they are not all that expensive.

The Smith and Wesson original Model 19 "Combat Magnum" — without doubt one of the finest combat revolvers ever made.

The Smith and Wesson original Model 19 "Combat Magnum" — without doubt one of the finest combat revolvers ever made.

If you want a reliable, simple, and relatively powerful “maximum concealment” handgun, you should in my opinion obtain:

• One of the original Colt Commander Models in .45ACP caliber (if you are a serious individual and intend to work with your weapon to achieve proficiency at a reasonably high level)

or

• One of the original Smith and Wesson Chiefs, Bodyguard, or Centennial models in .38 Special caliber (preferably all steel frame; but the aluminum alloy lightweights are excellent, too — just a little harder to control in rapid fire).

It seems that the finest handguns sometimes become displaced by "fashion". This 3" barrel .357 Model 13 (Military and Police) Smith and Wesson revolver is one of the finest defensive sidearms ever made. Look for one on line through a dealer or private seller. It's an oldie but a helluva goodie!

It seems that the finest handguns sometimes become displaced by "fashion". This 3" barrel .357 Model 13 (Military and Police) Smith and Wesson revolver is one of the finest defensive sidearms ever made. Look for one on line through a dealer or private seller. It's an oldie but a helluva goodie!

Smith and Wesson's old Chiefs revolver. Simple, reliable, and powerful — and very easy to conceal. The Bodyguard and the Centennial are similarly top choices for optimum reliable concealment weapons.

Smith and Wesson's old Chiefs revolver. Simple, reliable, and powerful — and very easy to conceal. The Bodyguard and the Centennial are similarly top choices for optimum reliable concealment weapons.

These weapons are obtainable at reasonable cost and, in my opinion, are superior to much of what is touted today as the “latest thing”.

An extensive and well run class in weapon familiarization might reveal to you a weapon that you prefer over my recommendations. If so, go with your personal choice. However, if you need a basic guide to determining in general what will be suitable for personal defense, you now have it.

One final note: A weapon selected for an extremely frail, elderly, or handicapped person (perhaps one who is confined to a wheelchair, etc.) must be practical for that unfortunately limited individual. For such a person I recommend the .22 rimfire semiautomatic Ruger target pistol (whatever model you prefer). A person need have only sufficient strength to raise and point the weapon and then pull the trigger, in order to be able to rely upon this handgun in an emergency. There is no recoil and no complexity in fire control.

The name Ruger ha always been synonymous with first rate, top quality firearms. This no frills .22 automatic is a fine companion for anyone of limited physical capacity who — like all of us — has the right and need to be able to defend him/herself.

The name Ruger ha always been synonymous with first rate, top quality firearms. This no frills .22 automatic is a fine companion for anyone of limited physical capacity who — like all of us — has the right and need to be able to defend him/herself.

This has not been intended as a “course” in weapon selection. So please, my dear gun nut visitors, do not inundate me with lengthy diatribes about this or that or that or this that “should have been included” in “that incomplete article” that I posted; okay?

Powerful, well made, modern handguns are essential in a comprehensive self-defense and close combat curriculum. Lie unarmed skills, those weapons that are essential are simple, basic, and readily understood and mastered.

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Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Getting Back Into Shape

(If You’ve Been Long Out Of Physical Training, This Is How to Get Back In Shape)

Sensible weight training is a must for the hand-to-hand combat and self-defense devotee. Not for the attainment of a "pretty physique" but for the resulting confidence that comes from knowing you're strong and in shape, and for the strength and increased agility that a weight trained body can bring to bear when employing combatives in a deadly situation.

Sensible weight training is a must for the hand-to-hand combat and self-defense devotee. Not for the attainment of a "pretty physique" but for the resulting confidence that comes from knowing you're strong and in shape, and for the strength and increased agility that a weight trained body can bring to bear when employing combatives in a deadly situation.

IT happens. For months on end — possibly even years — your training had been consistent, progressive, and very successful. Then, possibly after going stale, or perhaps even simply due to boredom and plain laziness, you took a layoff. The week or two-week layoff became a month away from the weights. That month quickly snowballed into two and then three months; and today — perhaps a year or two later, you look back fondly at that time when you were in “really great shape”, and contemplate with a bit of depression your expanded waistline, considerably weakened muscular condition, and general feeling of physical and psychological enui. You want to get back into shape.

Okay. You can get back into excellent shape, more than likely improving upon and surpassing considerably your past “best” level of condition, strength, ad fitness; but you’ve got to do it right. You can’t just plunge back into it where you left off (which, amazingly, is what many otherwise intelligent people routinely attempt to do), since that will not only prove to be impossible (you are weaker and in much poorer  condition now — accept it) but will likely cause injuries, and will almost certainly make you feel even more discouraged than you now feel, and result in your abandoning the project in despair and hopelessness entirely, when you “just can’t manage the workout level”.

You did not get out of condition in a few weeks, and you must not expect to regain the shape that you were once in within a few workouts. You will need to approach the matter calmly, reasonably, progressively, and systematically. It will take time. It almost certainly will take a lot less time than you think it will; but you are not going to recover your previous “best” after your first week back in the gym.

The weight-trained judo powerhouse Masahiko Kimura (left) applies a technique of ju-jutsu which we employ for law enforcement in American Combato, known as the "twisting hammerlock". Kimura knew that strength is essential. That is why he trained regularly with weights. In his prime he was unbeatable.

The weight-trained judo powerhouse Masahiko Kimura (left) applies a technique of ju-jutsu which we employ for law enforcement in American Combato, known as the "twisting hammerlock". Kimura knew that strength is essential. That is why he trained regularly with weights. In his prime he was unbeatable.

YOUR FIRST OBJECTIVE

When getting back into physical shape after having neglected training for a considerale period of time your first objective should be to get back into a manageable routine of exercising. Understand this clearly: Your first objective should not be to train hard, to begin pushing as soon as possible, or to even try to follow your old schedule, training as closely as possible to how you “used to” train “back then”.

Do this. It has worked for many of my pupils in the past. And it has worked for me, too.

Set up a very simple, easily followed exercise schedule that enables you to reestablish a routine. Get back in the saddle, as it were; no matter how gently or reduced-from-what-it-once-was the present schedule may be. By getting back into a definite schedule of workouts you will be taking the first step, no matter how modest it may seem, toward your goal of regaining and surpassing your previous best.

My suggestion it: Pick a single basic exercise for each major muscle group and start back (no matter how you “used to” train) doing one single set of repetitions in each of those basic exercises. You can select your own exercise variations, of course; but a recommended or sample schedule might be:

• Warmup up with dumbell swings between the legs

• Alternate dumbells curl

• Regular barbell press

• Squat

• Bench press

• Bent-over one-dumbell rowing

• Dead lift

• Situps

Plan on training three days a week on alternate days. Do not exceed a single set for your first three workouts. Use but six repetitions in the warmup, curls, presses, bench press, and dead lift. Use eight repetitions in the squat and the bent-over rowing. Work on 25 situps, to begin.

How much weight to use? VERY, VERY LITTLE, at first. In fact you should consciosly undertrain at first. If you feel that, for example, you could pretty easily manage a couple of 30 pound dumbells in the alternate curls, start off with a pair of 20 pound dumbells. Remember your objective: Get back on a schedule; you are not at all concerned with “working out hard” just yet. By running through one, then two, then three . . . etc. “easy” training sessions, you will not complete workouts feeling discouraged or exhausted. You should feel something to the effect of” “That was easy. I’m not even all that tired. I could have done more.” You might catch yourself thinking, “Gee, I didn’t do anything” which would be a big mistake. You certainly did do something! You worked out! And you haven’t done that for a long time, right? So feel encouraged. Give yourself a pat on the back. It’s not going to be all that difficult, you see? The initial workout (workouts, actually) hardly taxes you, and you don’t finish the schedule feeling like you’re so miserably out of shape it’s all over but the shoveling!

If you start back with a 20-30 minute routine that leaves you feeling pleasantly satisfied but NOT tired, you’ve done it right.

Stick with that single set per exercise for at least your first week back. Nothing at all wrong with remaining with a single set for two weeks. But try to add a little weight after your second workout, and continue to try to add just a little bit more (i.e. 2-1/2 to 5 pounds — no more) every third workout.

You can add a second set after week number one or two — your choice. No taxing weights yet; not even moderately heavy. You simply want to establish a regular, consistent routine of working out — albeit, for now, easily.

Stick with two sets for at least six weeks. Two months is better. Concern yourself exclusively with increments in poundages employed. Do not try to train “heavy” per se; just keep training a little bit “heavier”. Even a one pound increase means you’re training harder and becoming stronger. Be encouraged! You’re on the right path.

If you need inspiration and encouragement, take a look at this photo of the late, great karate Master Masutatsu Oyama, Founder of the Kyokushinkai Karate Style. Oyama trained with weights, and he encouraged his students to do the same. Oyama always taught karate as a MARTIAL (never a competition) Art. Like all knowledgeable instructors of traditional OR nontraditional systems and methods, Mas Oyama understood perfectly that weight training was essential to the fullest measure of a student's development of strength.

If you need inspiration and encouragement, take a look at this photo of the late, great karate Master Masutatsu Oyama, Founder of the Kyokushinkai Karate Style. Oyama trained with weights, and he encouraged his students to do the same. Oyama always taught karate as a MARTIAL (never a competition) Art. Like all knowledgeable instructors of traditional OR nontraditional systems and methods, Mas Oyama understood perfectly that weight training was essential to the fullest measure of a student's development of strength.

By the time you have been at your new schedule, progressing moderately and sensibly, for six weeks to two months, using no more than two sets, and adding no more than 5 pounds to any of the exercises that you do, at any one time, you can now take it from there. Go on to three sets if you wish (no more), and let your feeling for the day determine how hard you push. You’ve broken back into a regular training routine now, and you’ve rebuilt sufficient strength and condition to safely judge for yourself how much weight you will be using, and how hard you’ll be pushing.

Although you should always use the strictest and most correct form possibe when working out for your preliminary six to eights week schedule, a little cheating can be done after you’ve regained a good foundation of strength, condition, and energy for the workouts. But restrict cheating to no more than once per week (once every two weeks, is even better) and only on your heavy day, during any given week’s training.

Weight training is the indispensable supplementary physical training for the combatives/self-defense student. You simply need to train with weights for the fullest measure of all round development and available strength for the combat arts in which you strive for mastery. That’s that. The health and general fitness benefits of weight training are of course wonderful and do, themselves, make weight training immensely desirable for anyone; but for the combat arts trainee, weight training is essential.

I sincerely hope that this inspires and guides any visitor to this site who may need the nudge to get back into great shape by returning to those weight training workouts that once gave him the satisfaction of a level of personal development that he has, for a time, neglected to maintain.

If that’s YOU, then I am hoping that you follow this instruction straight away! GOOD LUCK!

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Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Two Interesting Weapons:

The Smatchet And The Tomahawk

The WWII "Fairsword" or SMATCHET. The name comes from the idea of a "smashing hatchet" which possesses not only the capacity to kill a man quickly, but also to smash trough a Nazi helmet's rear-of-neck protectice shield (one function for which Fairbairn designed the weapon). The wieldly nature of this impressive weapon makes it somewhat more desirable, in our opinion, than the tomahawk. We can see this implement coming to the aid of a modern commando — or of a homeowner , who finds himself confronting a home invader!

The WWII "Fairsword" or SMATCHET. The name comes from the idea of a "smashing hatchet" which possesses not only the capacity to kill a man quickly, but also to smash trough a Nazi helmet's rear-of-neck protective shield (one function for which Fairbairn designed the weapon). The wieldly nature of this impressive weapon makes it somewhat more desirable, in our opinion, than the tomahawk. We can see this implement coming to the aid of a modern commando — or of a homeowner , who finds himself confronting a home invader!

PERSONAL weapons have always been integral to all martial arts. To speak of “martial arts training” in which individual weaponry plays no part is to speak of that which the Japanese refer to as training in a martial way; i.e. an art that derives from martial tradition but that has as its purpose — over and above combat, per se — the physical, moral, and spiritual cultivation of the participant, with “self-defense” being only a peripheral concern. Sometimes there is a little weaponcraft included in martial ways, but it is invariably classical/traditional weaponry, generally of little or no actual value on a modern battlefield, or in an urban street environment.

Real combat (i.e. martial) martial arts include weapons, and include weapons that are current with the times. Thus, for one example, in American Combato (Jen•Do•Tao) our weaponry includes: the modern handgun, the modern shotgun and carbine, the modern fighting knife, functional stick weapons, the modern American tomahawk, and unconventional/improvised weapons-at-hand. We would also be willing, if anyone insisted, to acknowledge that the WWII (or more modern) smatchet might have a place in a rounded curriculum; although like the tomahawk, it would be a very limited place.

Until the late Peter La Gana rather recently reinstituted manufacture of his Vietnam-era American tomahawk, sadly not long before his untimely passing, we did not include this weapon. The reason is simple: The excellent La Gana (or “American”) tomahawk was the only properly designed combat tomahawk for the modern shock trooper or special forces soldier. Without it being available, there was hardly any point in teaching its use. With the La Gana weapon now currently being manufactured, and being available, we include training in its use to our Black Belts.

With the exception of the improved indestructible handle, this is the exact "American tomahawk" weapon that Peter La Gana, a prestigious USMC hand-to-hand trainer designed during the Vietnam War. This is a very dangerous and effective weapon in the hands of a man who has spent a few hours seriously training with it. It has two primary drawbacks: 1. If one does not have it in hand, it may be slow to draw, and  2. It is not as versatile and wieldly as a good fighting knofe or the smatchet. Nevertheless, we appreciate the extreme and extraordinary effectiveness that this excellent weapon potentially offers, and it makes good sense for the fighting man in the field.

With the exception of the improved indestructible handle, this is the exact "American tomahawk" weapon that Peter La Gana, a prestigious USMC hand-to-hand trainer, designed during the Vietnam War. This is a very dangerous and effective weapon in the hands of a man who has spent a few hours seriously training with it. It has two primary drawbacks: 1. If one does not have it in hand, it may be slow to draw, and 2. It is not as versatile and wieldly as a good fighting knife or the smatchet. Nevertheless, we appreciate the extreme and extraordinary effectiveness that this excellent weapon potentially offers, and it makes good sense for the fighting man in the field.

One weapon that was in widespread use during the second world war, thanks to its inventor — the celebrated W.E. Fairbairn — advancing its effective methodology when training SOE, OSS, and commando personnel in its use, is the SMATCHET. Originally called the “Fairsword”, after its inventor, “smatchet” became the popular designation. In the 1980’s our late mentor Col. Rex Applegate introduced a modernized version of the smatchet, and we safely tucked away the complimentary example of this weapon that he sent us. We have not until recently given any thought to the smatchet, since like it as we may, it simply never seemed to have much practical use for private citizens or for our military. We have never included instruction in the smatchet, but recent events causing us to rethink our evaluation of this implement have started us thinking whether or not our decision is wise.

The outstanding outlet Atlanta Cutlery (atlantacutlery.com) has recently begun to offer a faithful reproduction (fully functional!) of the WWII smatchet. One of our Black Belts generously gifted us one of these weapons, and it is impressive. But what really started us tinking that it may well be a good weapon to include in the instruction of our students is the way another of our Black Belts felt when he purchased one of the WWII weapons. His face glowed when he hefted the thing! Exactly as Fairbairn wrote in All-In Fighting, taking the weapon in hand does make its possessor register certain, shall we say, “warrior-like” reactions. Guys love the tomahawk, too. But for some reason there was something special in the man’s eyes when he gripped the smatchet.

Although we prize Col. Applegate’s gifted “Combat Smatchet” immensely, we really cannot see how either it or the WWII original would be any more or less desirable, on balance. Frankly, if we were somehow able to take either one in hand prior to engaging an enemy in hand-to-hand combat, we would be perfectly — and equally — satisfied.

Both the tomahawk and the smatchet have a primary place, as we see it, on the web belts of shock troops or soldiers at the front. One simply does not carry a tomahawk or a smatchet under one’s sport jacket or on one’s belt when shopping at the mall.

Both weapons do have a place, and are well worth considering, as weapons for home defense — say, to supplement one’s 12 gauge shotgun and .45 automatic.

Of the two weapons the smatchet is the more versatile and wieldly. It is also the simpler of the two, by far, to master. One need only gain a grasp of basic unarmed combat and then follow the illustrated description of how the smatchet is utilized (that Fairbairn presents in his classic handbook) in order to be extremely dangerous with that weapon.

Personally, aside from the 1911 .45 automatic pistol, our choice for self-defense up close would be a fighting knife. In reality we also feel that — even for the modern fighting man at war — the razor sharp fighting knife is the best choice when one needs a “silent weapon” for hand-to-hand combat. Still, one cannot deny that somewhat more specialized fighting tools — so long as one knows how to use them, and so long as one practices sufficiently to employ them under stress — have a place. Both the American tomahawk and the smatchet are excellent examples of such tools, and we commend them to our readers’ consideration.

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

THE NATURE OF THE ENEMY

RECENTLY we discovered – to our great delight – that YouTube had made available in ten parts the fantastic motion picture, Funny Games. We understand that two versions of this movie were made, and that both are good. We first saw the original German edition on videotape years ago. This is the one we are recommending.

The original German edition of FUNNY GAMES. It is a fantastic portrayal of pure, naked (and not at all uncommon) human evil — and the tragedy of human unpreparedness and unarmed, unassertive, noncombative, naive human innocence. Intelligent viewers of this film will come away knowing very well why we think, teach, and live as we do.

The original German edition of FUNNY GAMES. It is a fantastic portrayal of pure, naked (and not at all uncommon) human evil — and the tragedy of human unpreparedness and unarmed, unassertive, noncombative, naive human innocence. Intelligent viewers of this film will come away knowing very well why we think, teach, and live as we do.

We shall not spoil the intense feelings that your first exposure to this story is certain to elicit from you by telling you anything more about it except that it is perhaps the single best film depiction of dangerous, violent psychopaths and what they do that has ever been made. PLEASE watch this film through. Get everyone you respect, love, and care about to watch this movie. It will educate you and — if you have even the slightest commitment to reality and real world preparation for survival and defense of yourself and those you love — fuel your motivation to train hard, and become and remain lethally proficient with your natural as well as manufactured weapons! It will also push you to make a study of psychopaths — something we recommended in our Newsletter, Sword & Pen (on our other site: www.americancombato.com).

We personally remind our students every now and then about this film. We have been urging that those who train with us watch it ever since we first saw it, ourself.

If anyone believes that the mindset and attitude that we advocate, as well as the murderously destructive skills and tactics that we teach are “excessive”, or that we are “too emphatic about being ever-ready”, or that “our merciless philosophy is too harsh”, etc. this motion picture should help to erase such naive misconceptions. We will remind you — and what we now say is verifiable by reference to tons of documentation in police files, true crime books, and news reports — that what this motion picture presents is in many ways merely a MILD taste of that which real world psychopathic victimization at the hands of violent felons actually entails.

Please, for your sake and the sake of those dear to you, watch this movie. You might even consider purchasing it. It represents a pinnacle in naturalistic screen art.

A scene from FUNNY GAMES. The actors who play the psychopaths are excellent. We would gladly have killed them ourself while watching teir performance! The "clean cut" young man sitting beside the hooded boy is the lead criminal in the movie. So true to what is often real life, he is pure evil but looks likes a choir boy! ALL of the acting in this film is superb.

A scene from FUNNY GAMES. The actors who play the psychopaths are excellent. We would gladly have killed them ourself while watching their performance! The "clean cut" young man sitting beside the hooded boy is the lead criminal in the movie. So true to what is often real life, he is pure evil but looks likes a choir boy! ALL of the acting in this film is superb.

Funny Games should be regarded by students of self-defense and close combat (armed and unarmed) as a “grim motivational thriller”. It is as sickening as the classic version of Nineteen Eighty-Four (starring Richard Burton), and for exactly the same reasons.

After watching this movie (assuming that you do not already feel this way) you will want anyone standing in your way of firearms acquisition and their defensive use, as well as the acquisition and defensive use of any and all weapons, as well as unarmed combat and self-defense, gassed — at the very least!

Think we exaggerate? Watch Funny Games.

Then watch it a couple of more times.

You’ll see.

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Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Avoidance: It’s “Self-Defense Technique” No.1

IMPLICIT in the “challenge” event approach to what we would refer to as pseudo martial arts is the idea that face-offs, fights, “throwing down”, and in general looking for trouble is cool, macho, and for some insane reason the insignia of the “real” tough guy — the no-nonsense “fighter”.

This idea is worse than nonsense. It amounts to the embracing of a philosophy and lifestyle (not to mention a theory of technique) that is at very best adolescent, and bothersome to civilized humanity; at worst it is criminal, suicidal, and antisocial.

True enough, the legitimate competition fighter — wrestler, boxer, judo man, kick boxer, competition karate man — understandably and properly never ceases, while active on the competition scene, to look for other competitors against whom he can match his skills. However, there is a big difference between the legitimate sports competitor who issues his challenges to other competitors only, and the scowling, braying ass whose bellowing protestations of “toughness” and “great fighting prowess” are directed at all and sundry, and are intended to provoke even non-participants in his nonsense, as the blustering anthropoid swaggers about looking for a fight.

Two of our loves in life are weight training and combat arts. We have seen the first ruined in the mainstream by idiotic standards and by the use of steroids; as we have seen the latter ruined in the mainstream by the worst possible attitude (presented as desirable by the vested interests who profit from its propagation), and by the advancement of competition skills masquerading as combat skills. Both weight training and combat arts (hand-to-hand military, and self-defense) are now, in their proper and healthy forms relegated to a kind of “underground” where teachers who know what gives continue to push what really works, and that which provides what those who come to these marvelous disciplines are really seeking.

The inherent stupidity of a bad attitude (i.e. looking for trouble) has been demonstrated many times. It got Jean-Claude Van Damme knocked out cold; it got Mike Tyson hospitalized; and it got a “champion” UFC man neatly dispatched by a single blow, at the L.A. airport by — of all people — Richard Simmons!

Please . . . do not get competitive bouts and sparring with practice partners confused with real combat. “Challenge events”, no matter who makes the claim to the contrary, do not reflect that which works and that which is required in actual hand-to-hand battle, and for self-defense emergencies. If this kind of stuff interests you, fine. Just don’t confuse that which it entails with that which is involved in close combat.

Squaring off with another scowling knuckle-dragger is not the same as handling a surprise attack in the street or in your home by one or more felons. Training in skills that win matches is not the same as training in combat skills — and combat is no “match”; it is a battle for survival.

Home invasions do not occur in any “octagon” or “cage” — they occur in peoples’ homes.

Real attackers carry deadly weapons. They attack in pairs and groups. They come from behind, when they can. They thrive on violence and on trouble. They are not hard training athletes; they are dangerous, violent, hateful psychopaths. They do not “schedule” their attacks, and allow you to cancel the engagement if you’re ill or otherwise unready. Real attackers come at you on concrete, rock-strewn, uneven and dangerously hazardous ground surfaces. They attack you without your having a chance to warmup and to change into your “fight gear”, etc. They attack your loved ones, too. They attack in parking garages, malls, restaurants, movie theaters, parks, offices, school buildings, driveways, airline terminals, and so on; and they attack when you least expect it, and —often — are least prepared and in condition to deal with their onslaught. They attack at night and during the day, and they attack in foul, inclement weather, as well as when the sun is shining. They attack when they are young and strong, and when you may be old and not-so-strong. Big felons attack much smaller victims — disregarding anything resembling “weight class distinctions” and fair play.

Need we go on?

Muggers, troublemakers, armed thugs, gang members, terrorists, bullies, rapists, kidnappers, and assorted other bipedal bacterial scum are not competitors. PERIOD.

In real combat you never know who you are dealing with, what his intentions and capabilities are, and what kind of as-yet-unseen assistants and/or weapons he may be employing against you.

The legitimate competition fighter has no illusions about any of this. He does not seek to establish a reputation as a “badass”; he simply wishes to excel in his competitive venue — certainly a legitimate and worthy goal.

Did you ever hear of Chuck Norris or Gene LeBell (two of the greatest competition men in American martial arts history) pushing their weight around? Or looking outside their sporting activity for people to beat? Of course not! Nor did Muhammad Ali ever behave with and amongst others when outside the ring or when not promoting a legitimate fight, as anything less than the gracious, marvelously competent gentleman and fighter that he is. Those three men — Norris, LeBell, and Ali — did great honor to their respective arts of karate, judo/wrestling, and boxing. Parents rightly encouraged their sons to emulate these great sports heroes, because each is a fine and gracious individual, magnificently representative not merely of great competitive fighting acumen, but more importantly, of great CHARACTER. These men disdained anything resembling a “tough guy attitude” off the mat or outside the ring, and each man knew very well the huge differences between hard fought matches, and toe-to-toe battles. We once heard Muhammad Ali respond to a question regarding how it felt to be the greatest fighter in the world by saying, “That’s silly. A little girl could stick her finger in my eye and I couldn’t do anything.”

Sensible, respectable, responsible, legitimate competition people all have essentially the same attitude toward becoming embroiled in unnecessary violence that properly trained combat trainees have:

THEY  A V O I D IT!

Only a fool looks for, welcomes, or desires real violence in his life. You can pretty much judge the authenticity of anyone representing himself as a combat/self-defense teacher by how adamantly he proselytizes against looking for trouble, getting into fights, or otherwise courting gratuitous violence.

The punk is itching to throw down. The genuine expert seeks to avoid — to walk away, whenever possible. Interestingly enough, the punk generally gets his empty head as well as his ass kicked when he finally picks the wrong victim upon which to level his bullshit. The expert generally provides the nastiest and most painful of surprises to the troublemaking half-wit who insists upon forcing him to defend himself!

Avoidance is, literally, a self-defense technique.

When you successfully avoid a physical encounter you have, as we see it, won. That is, you have successfully defended yourself against whatever consequences  may have come, had you not avoided that encounter. Those “consequences” remember, could be extraordinarily devastating to you — not merely if you had been injured or perhaps killed, but if you had suffered any possible legal damages. Civil lawsuits, not to mention defense attorney fees (even if you had acted in legitimate self-defense) should you be unjustly charged, and not recognized to have been acting in lawful self-defense by the criminal justice system. Innocent and decent people suffer at the hands of the system all the time. Mafia Dons often escape even minor penalties — while Martha Stewart does time.

You do NOT, unless you are a fool and a worthless troublemaker, want to engage in any violent encounter that can be avoided. Your ignorance of the legal system, coupled with whatever ego you may possess, conceivably might be enjoining you to believe otherwise (as, undoubtedly, many of the mainstream imbecile “champions” and “heroes” of the challenge bullshit would have you believe), but LISTEN TO US! Nothing – absolutely nothing – good can come from becoming involved in a dangerous close combat encounter, unless such an encounter is impossible to avoid, and you must take action for survival and self-defense.

Those who enjoy getting it on in a cage (where, some might feel, these types actually ought to be contained, permanently) or who swagger into the octagon, etc., feeling themselves to be “bad dudes” indulge their fantasies in a relatively safe context. There are no ever-present dangers of being maimed or killed, of being shot, stabbed, stomped, or otherwise mangled. Yet in the real world NOTHING BUT SUCH DANGERS OFFER, WHENEVER REAL COMBAT ENSUES. Legitimate, professional combat teachers and serious devotees of the combat arts know this very well; as do legitimate competitive sports participants who have grasped the difference between that which they do, and that which occurs in hand-to-hand combat. YOU had better grasp the difference, too!

Far too little emphasis is given today in the many so-called “self-defense” programs that are taught, to AVOIDANCE. In American Combato, avoidance is the first “self-defense technique” we strive to rely upon. Our philosophy is:

FIRST, strive to avoid trouble

SECOND, if avoidance is not possible, strive to preempt the attacker’s onslaught

THIRD, if avoidance or preemption were not possible, and an attack catches you off guard, counterattack.

That’s it. It’s legal. It’s moral. It’s sane. It’s sensible. It’s practical. It’s REAL. And, when backed up with the kind of utterly decisive technical doctrine and mindset that we espouse, it is as close to a “surefire means of winning in a dangerous situation” as anyone is ever likely to acquire.

Going to every possible extreme to avoid trouble enhances your use of one of the most critical elements required for success in combat: THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE. The bacteria that pushes the issue, and who insists upon violence in the face of your refusal to willingly participate in battle never anticipates that, should he initiate force, you will go after him like a wild animal, and that you will stop at nothing to destroy him. The arrogance of the troublemaker becomes his pronounced undoing if and when the individual with whom he is intent upon starting trouble makes it obvious that he himself wants no trouble, but upon being given no choice, becomes a more savage, merciless, and ferociously destructive aggressor than the troublemaker was ever capable of being.

If you have truly done everything possible to avoid trouble, your conscience should be completely clear and you need have no regrets no matter how much damage you inflict upon the scumbag who attacks you.

This works.

Decent, free people in a free nation do everything possible to avoid war. However, once given no choice but to wage war against a determined enemy, those decent, free people, fighting for their free nation, do WHATEVER THEY MUST TO WIN, and they have no regrets about the matter. This applies to individuals, too — as does every principle of warfare between nations apply to individual combat.

While the martial arts mainstream continues blindly along the path of the fool, and physical violence is urged as a source of “pride”, “manliness”, as “martial virtue”, determine to go the RIGHT way; to be sane and reasonable, and truly prepared, while the majority leap into the abyss.

AVOID VIOLENCE. Fight only when you must; not when you “can”.

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Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Real World Combat Shooting Report: Sent To Us By A Valued Contact

The following news report was received by us today (5 October 2010), and was sent by a dear friend, retired from law enforcement, but still in the loop with officers in numerous and varied departments and agencies.

Nothing teaches about the real world more or better than real world experiences. And the following report, reproduced in its entirety, will teach you a lot.

If you are in law enforcement, or if you teach police officers, PLEASE study and pass on the valuable lessons to be learned from the incident described.

Prof. Steiner

P1 Special Report: Blood Lessons: Lessons learned from an off-duty officer involved in fatal shootout at a McDonald’s

by PoliceOne Contributor Scott Buhrmaster

Article submitted by PoliceOne member who would like to remain anonymous

In response to a recent Force Science News article ( Have Gun, Will Travel? ) discussing the issue of off-duty/concealed carry, a sergeant in California shared the following account of a horrific off-duty engagement he and his family unexpectedly fell into. The hard-earned lessons he shares may save your life in an off-duty encounter, so we hope you will take them to heart.

[Editor’s note: Because of the impact this incident has had on his family, this sergeant has asked for anonymity.]

He writes:

I had taken my family to a McDonald’s Restaurant on our way to a pool party. I was off-duty, in civilian clothes, and armed.

I was standing in line and oblivious (like all the other patrons) to the fact that an armed suspect had taken the manager hostage and was forcing her to open the safe in the restaurant’s office. One of the cashiers had seen this and I overheard her telling another employee that the business was being robbed.

At that time, I had approximately 15 years of experience and was a SWAT team member and use-of-force/firearms instructor. I had talked to my wife about such an occurrence and we had a preplanned response. When I told her to take the children and leave the building, she did not hesitate. I began quietly telling employees and patrons to leave. My thinking was to remove as many innocent bystanders as possible and then leave myself.

I thought that because I did not see the suspect enter he must have come in from a side door or employee entrance and I assumed (wrongly) that he would go out the same way. As I was standing near the front counter trying to get some of the kitchen help to get out, the suspect came from the office area and began running in my direction.

I immediately noted the large semi-automatic pistol in his hand. The distance was about 15 to 20 yards. I drew my weapon, announced myself and took a kneeling position behind the counter. Unfortunately, the suspect raised his weapon at me and the gunfight erupted. The suspect fired a total of 2 rounds in my direction. I fired 11, striking him 10 times.

My weapon was now empty and I ran from the line of fire to reload my spare magazine. I then approached the downed suspect and could tell that he was seriously wounded. It was right then that I considered that there might be more than one “bad guy” (the thought had not crossed my mind before this) and I began to scan the 360 to check.

I immediately noticed a small child lying behind me. I saw blood pooling under her head and knew at a glance she was dead. One of the bullets fired at me had struck this child. Unbeknownst to me, my family had tried to exit out the fire door, which was locked. My wife was still trying to get out when the shooting started and she pushed my kids under a table where they all witnessed the gunfight.

The end result was that the suspect died, I survived, but a 9-year-old girl did not.

I tell you this story because I think that this topic is of utmost importance. It is largely ignored in mainstream police training. I want to tell you some of the lessons I learned from this incident:

1. If you are going to carry a firearm off-duty, you should carry extra ammo. Security camera video of this incident revealed that I fired all 11 rounds from my Glock 26 in about 2 seconds. My extra mag held 17 rounds. Words cannot describe the emotion I felt when I slammed that mag into my weapon and was able to still be in the fight.

Mostly because of circumstances (distance) and my training, my rounds were on target. It could have happened differently and the reality is that most of us miss more than we hit when involved in a gun battle.

2. You cannot have the typical police mind-set in an off-duty situation. I ended up in this incident without a radio, without backup, without body armor, handcuffs, other force options and without taking the time to think it through. I was truly most frightened when the gunfight was over and I was standing there covering the suspect with my weapon in my T-shirt and shorts.

I was really worried that one of my own guys might not recognize me. I was worried too that there might be some other off-duty copper around who would think I was the bad guy.

The smartest, most responsible thing I could have done would have been to take care of my family first. I should have seen personally to their safety. If I had grabbed them and gone outside, I would have spared them this entire experience and that little girl would probably still be alive today.

Again, words cannot describe the emotions that we all went through after this incident. I recognized afterward that it could have been one of my children lying dead because of my actions. When you are off-duty your first responsibility is to your family. You should never forget this.

3. I survived this incident. Partly due to my training and tactics. Partly due to God’s grace and blind luck. But the other side of the coin is that I got into this incident because of my training. I switched immediately into “cop” mode without stopping to consider that I was at a great tactical disadvantage. Most of us are driven and dedicated to the point of self destruction and I think good cops die because we are taught to place our personal safety second when others are in danger.

Because I had never trained realistically for a situation like this, I was unprepared. Most of the guys I worked with then and now carry off-duty weapons. But few of them, if any, have really taken the time to engage in realistic training and preparation for how to handle an off-duty incident.

Training can be as simple as discussing these types of situations with your coworkers. Since this shooting, I have devoted at least one quarterly range session with my students to off-duty encounters and the associated considerations.

4. The responsibility of carrying a firearm is huge. I had devoted countless hours to training for the fight, but was not fully prepared for the aftermath. None of the training scenarios, books, films, etc. that I learned from touched upon the fact that when you take that gun out and decide to take action, 9-year-old kids can get killed. Even if you do everything by the book, use good tactics, and are within policy and the law, the outcome can still be negative.

You have to remember that the suspect does not go to the range and he does not practice rules of weapons safety. He does not care about what’s in his line of fire. If it’s you or him, you gotta do what you gotta do, but whether you’re on-duty or off-duty we need to train to look at the totality of the incident.

Letting the bad guy go because doing otherwise would place innocent people in grave danger needs to be more “socially acceptable” amongst our ranks. I think we’re starting to see more of this in the pursuit policies of most agencies and I have tried to carry this message over into my training and teaching.

I guess the bottom line here is that it’s good to be on “auto pilot” when it comes to tactics in these situations, but we can’t go on auto pilot in our assessment and examination of the environment and circumstances leading up to and during the event. On-duty mind-set and off-duty mind-set need to be strongly separated and the boundaries clear.

– A California Sergeant

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Monday, August 23rd, 2010

What Combat Handgunning

Really Requires For Success

SOME people regard the handgun as a target shooting, recreational, sporting  device. Others consider the handgun to be a game-getting weapon. Both these objectives are perfectily legitimate. Indeed, there are handguns — and handgun modifications — specifically intended for either of those two purposes.

My view of the handgun is very specific and very limited. I am not a sportsman, and I am not a hunter. I respect fair-minded sportsmen, and understand that there will always be an overwhelming preponderance of shooters who prefer that aspect of shooting to any other. I respect hunters (and, indeed, would hunt, myself, were it not for an abundance of fresh meat and poultry that is easily obtained from local grocery stores), but am not a hunter of animals. For me, personally, the handgun — the sidearm — has one purpose: That of personal defense in situations where lethal force is necessary in order to protect life and limb against a close-range violent attack by a lethal felon.

Using a handgun properly in that particular context with which I am concerned (and for which I teach others who are similarly concerned) has a specific and proven methodology. That methodology is POINT SHOOTING. The system of “point shooting” is not new. It was first developed and systemized during the early part of the last century by William E. Fairbairn. Suffice it to say that there is no one in history who has had more documented, direct, personal experiences with lethal street violence of all types than Fairbairn. He was mentor to one of my own teachers, the late Col. Rex Applegate (who further advanced point shooting doctrine, during and after WWII) and trained both British and American secret servants and commandos. Anyone interested in reading the story of Fairbairn, Applegate, and point shooting, is referred to William Cassidy’s classic, QUICK OR DEAD, published by Paladin Press.

Anyone interested in learning how to point shoot, or learning more about the mechanics involved in this method of using a handgun in combat, is referred to KILL OR GET KILLED, by Rex Applegate, to SHOOTING TO LIVE, by William E. Fairbairn, and — again — to that section dealing with instruction that appears in QUICK OR DEAD.

Right now what I wish to address is something that is all but completely ignored (or not understood) by those who teach the combative employment of the handgun. It seems that even those who, correctly, advocate the proper point shooting method, neglect to stress to their students the literal heart and soul of that which is required in order to be able to prevail against a living, breathing killer. There is something much, much more important still, than the mechanical system of shooting. And, that is the balance that should be understood and appreciated by all who teach and train to use sidearms against human adversaries, that apportions the emphasis due each of the factors required in a program designed for REAL WORLD use of a fighting pistol.

First and foremost — and I realize that this is politically incorrect, socially unpalatable, and offensive to many — is the readiness and willingness to kill a human being, if and when necessary, without the slightest tremor of hesitation.

I know all about the idea of “shooting to stop” (a euphemism introduced by the man who gave us a competition method and insisted that we all regard it as some “new technique” of combat shooting). True enough, we DO shoot a person in order to stop him. But shooting him is applying DEADLY FORCE AGAINST HIM, and until or unless it literally is so absolutely imperative that a person be “stopped” that it does not matter if he is killed in the process, we do not shoot that person. Using any firearm against a human adversary is using deadly force, and we use deadly force when and if — and ONLY when and if — we are fully prepared, ready and willing, to kill that adversary.

Taking a life is something that combat shooting is all about. Unless we are fully and unhesitantly ready to do just that — and fully appreciate the meaning of the act that we undertake — we are not combatively prepared to use a handgun in combat/self-defense emergencies. Period.

Violent criminals often have the edge here. Notice how often violent lunatics kill better “trained” and better armed members of our law enforcement community. This tragedy occurs very often not because the officer who is murdered is “not as good with his weapon as the creature who murders him”, but because the scumbag who shoots the officer has not the slightest compunction about killing the officer! That  the felon frequently employs an inferior weapon than that which the officer possesses, and/or that the felon has never had five minutes of “proper instruction” in how to use a handgun in combat, doesn’t matter, either. THE VIOLENT CRIMINAL IS READY AND WILLING TO KILL WITHOUT HESITATION. That’s his edge.

Winning medals for shooting paper targets has nothing to do with conditioning a man to take a human life. And it is, to repeat, TAKING A HUMAN LIFE that is the crux of the matter in preparing to use a handgun in personal defense. The person who is settled — really settled — on the matter, and who has not the slightest degree of doubt or hesitation regarding the act of killing, when killing is necessary and justifiable, is almost certainly the one who will prevail in any lethal, armed encounter IF . . .

He also possesses a proper degree of practical skill in point shooting, and if he employs good combat and personal security tactics.

Point shooting is combat shooting. The method has been proven in WAR as well as in peacetime (by both law enforcement and private individuals) to be the right way to use a sidearm in a deadly encounter at close quarters. There are those who continue to argue that the method has been “replaced” — but these individuals are basing their position upon competition experiences, and upon that which they practice at the range. Those who have done it for real and who do it for real understand that point shooting is the way to use a handgun against enemies who shoot back.

Point shooting enables a man to make the speediest and most efficient use of every phenomenon that occurs, mentally and physically, in a close range encounter. It is the skill that facilitates the mindset. Once ready and willing to kill, the individual armed with a pistol will be able to do it best and most reliably in a close range, quick reaction situation with POINT SHOOTING, than he possibly could by using any other method. Visually locking on to the enemy (the peripheral optic dysfunction phenomenon), crouching, convulsively seizing one’s weapon and pulling (not “squeezing”) the trigger, and losing one’s fine motor capacity while experiencing a jolt of adrenaline and an explosion of blood pressure, etc. — all these involuntary occurrences MAKE USE OF and do not work in opposition to, point shooting.

Good tactics are always important. Having one’s weapon out when one expects trouble; correct use of cover; applying good security precautions and procedures (whether one is a law enforcement officer, soldier, or private citizen); etc. and so on, are all necessary. The person who is 100% prepared to kill his enemy in combat, who has mastered the point shooting method, and who employs good tactic all of the time, is the one who may be regarded as a properly trained combative marksman.

I would sum it up by offering the following as an assessment of proper apportioning of the three key factors when considering how much of what contributes to genuine individual readiness:

• BEING READY AND WILLING TO KILL, WHEN THE NEED ARISES — 90%

• MASTERY OF POINT SHOOTING — 8%

• GOOD TACTICS — 2%

I hope that this brief presentation helps good people, in law enforcement, in our armed and intelligence services, and in the private sector, to be better prepared to use handguns to save their lives when doing so is unavoidably necessary.

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Saturday, August 7th, 2010

The Enormous Error Of Defensive Self-Defense

WHEN a violent offender attacks you there is no question about the fact that what he is doing he is doing by deliberate intent. He wants to injure or perhaps even kill you. Why he wishes to do this is irrelevant — at least for the time being. There should be only one single overriding mandate driving you, the very second that you realize that you are under attack: STOP THE ASSAILANT!

A violent attacker has two immense advantages — initially — that absolutely must be overcome decisively and immediately: 1. He is in action first, prompted by a mind that has been set to attack you.  2. His abilities, his ultimate objective in attacking you, his past history, his physical strength, whether he is or is not armed, how determined he is to carry out his objective, etc. are ALL unknown factors to you. For all you know you may be under attack by a hardened, experienced killer whose purpose is to take your life right now. In fact, if you are wise, you WILL ASSUME JUST THAT!

Unfortunately, the situation of being under attack by a dangerous and determined individual does not leave you the luxury of being a gentleman, of striving to be “humane”, of attempting to handle the onslaught against you by not injuring your attacker, or by indulging in the qualities of compassion, forbearance, restraint, and sportsmanship, that are implicit in all too many “self-defense” techniques and methods that are popularly taught in so-called “martial arts classes”. The underlying philosophy in all of these methods is that you do not wish to be barbaric, aggressive, or as vicious and cruel as a violent offender. Yet, I am telling you that that is exactly what you DO want to be, In fact, that is what you MUST be, or stop allowing yourself to think that you are prepared to handle a genuine attack.

Not only are defensive techniques that fall short of seriously injuring the attacker technically ineffective and all but impossible to apply against a really dangerous assailant, the entire MINDSET of “defensiveness” is woefully inadequate to deal with the savagery of a violent attack. That which works against a cooperative training partner in the dojo is hardly therefore acceptable when a life-threatening emergency strikes, and the opponent is a lunatic bent upon killing you — as opposed to being a friendly practice partner!

If, God forbid, serious danger ever comes your way the proper way to handle it will be anything but pleasant. You will need to reach deep within yourself and draw out your most primitive, vicious, inhuman, murderous drives — and direct them in one great explosion against your enemy. It’s that — or lose.

Many martial arts teachers do not know this. Others might be aware of it, but for commercial reasons refrain from saying it and advocating it. After all, the typical individual who wishes to enroll for self-defense training is doing so because he is afraid of being injured, is intimidated by violence, and wants a means of protecting himself that will keep him relatively free of the need for immersing himself in the brutality of a genuine hand-to-hand battle. This accounts for the popularity of “humane self-defense” courses, for the popularity of such arts as “aikido”, and for the reason why every effort is made to focus on DEFENSE ONLY when learning self-defense; despite the fact that “defense only” constitutes a philosophy and technical ability geared to FANTASY, not reality.

But if any study requires REALITY — the most undiluted, unvarnished, hard-nosed reality possible — it is close combat and self-defense. Without it, no worthwhile training or individual development of a practical kind results.

DEFENSE IS THE PROPER MOTIVE FOR TRAINING AND FOR DEVELOPING EFFECTIVE SKILLS. BUT OFFENSE IS THE ONLY MEANS OF ITS ATTAINMENT.

If you are serious about self-defense — really serious — then drop all of the “compassion” nonsense. Forget about “you don’t want to hurt anyone”. Stop believing that some fantasy skills from some mountaintop in Asia can equip you to stop anyone without resorting to outright savagery, yourself. Self-defense is WAR in microcosm. Wars are won by attacking and destroying the enemy. Period.

You do not like violence? Neither do I. However, when you find yourself in a situation that is being foisted upon you by one or more others who do not care in the least what the hell you like or don’t like, and who intend to cripple or to kill you, or to savage your loved ones, then you do not have the luxury of behaving in a manner that you’d “prefer”. It is an emergency and you now must act in a manner that the emergency requires. You must get tough, brutal, remorselessly savage, and you must completely disregard anything and everything except dropping your foe, lest you be dropped by him.

Train yourself to ATTACK when you are attacked. Forget about your shirt or your jacket. Let the assailant rip and tear it. Forget about what he is now attempting to do to you. Concentrate immediately upon what YOU can do to HIM — and do not be influenced in the least by the idea that maiming your attacker might be “too harsh”.  Hopefully, it will be harsh enough!

Don’t get fancy, and don’t try to be acrobatic or impressive. If you’re a judo man don’t be so foolish as to risk your life by trying tomoenage. That’s for the mat! Besides, if you can place your foot in his stomach for the throw, why not just kick him in the testicles as hard as you can? You can always strike or kick a man faster and more safely than you can move in, off-balance him, and go for a throw.

If you’re a karate man do not wait to block. Get those OPEN hand strikes more highly polished, and train to kick the testicles and the knees the very second you see an adversary begin his onslaught.

Yell. Throw dirt. Use a fork or a table knife. Pick up a small chair or stool. NEVER fight fair. Never think fair! This is WAR.

The person who thinks “defense” is only trying to avoid injury, he is not trying to inflict it. The person who is attack minded knows and strives to apply force, and to cripple and maim his attacker. This carries a morale edge to the fight that is of incalculable value to the defender who employs it.

No, this is not pleasant, and it isn’t “artsy”. But it works.

The second that you perceive aggression being directed against you, ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK!

Neither I nor anyone else can offer you a guarantee of victory. Neither my System nor any other in the world is foolproof or perfect. However, when you use the right principles, possess the right attitude, and employ the best techniques, the odds favor you, immensely. And it’s the right principles, attitude, and techniques that we offer you. Your responsibility is to understand, accept, and develop them.

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