Archive for January, 2020

Sunday, January 26th, 2020

                          Training The Will

A  plethora of DVDs and books purporting to teach “special forces fitness”, “seal physical training”, “ranger P.T.”, and other dramatically-impressive modes of personal readiness and body-building that bear titles intended to appeal to those who are familiar with the justifiably respected so-called “elite units” of the military, abound. The ads must bring in millions, because they keep appearing in the periodicals, and people keep sending away for the DVDs and books.

Certain facts should be, but aren’t, either pointed out or generally appreciated by those who stand in awe of those whose fitness regimes they seek to follow: 1. Training for the elite units is more of a breaking down of the trainee (or an effort to break him down) during the preliminary stages, than it is a method of building him up. 2. Such building up that is a goal of the training once the trainee has passed selection and assessment is more task-directed than it is directed toward “muscle-building”. And 3. The critical factor enabling a trainee to pass muster for any elite unit is his will to succeed and to qualify; his tenaciousness in never giving up, and his dogged determination to become a member of the unit for which he is in training. Mental toughness, more than physical toughness, is what is required, what is tested, and ––– ultimately, for those who qualify ––– that which is constantly being honed in and for all special operations forces.

The WILL is the special operator’s most crucial “muscle”. Developed and nurtured to its limit, the will makes all of the other muscles of the body do that which is demanded of them.

Every human being is capable of many more times the concentrated effort of mind, spirit, and muscle than he is normally aware of, and certainly more than his normal daily existence in the private sector of society ever demands of him. It is that concentrated, fanatically-focused and determined mental, spiritual, and muscular effort that training for the special units is intended to foster and educate. The person who possesses the required level of this will-driven power to qualify for special operations forces will not quit when circumstances appear overwhelming, terrifying, or hopeless. In fact, the possessor of this fully cultivated will does not label a situation “hopeless”. He functions down to his cells with the committement to never give up so long as he is alive and capable of movement.

Private citizens who have no firsthand experience with any of what constitues preparation for and performance of desperate and all-but-impossible mission accomplishment often are surprised to discover that members of elite and special forces do not necessarily appear to be extraordinary. Unlike the bodybuilders whose shockingly extreme development they proudly display on the posing dais, the special operator may look “ordinary”. No bulging muscles. No strikingly exaggerated and physically imposing presence. How disappointing. Can these fellows really do the often incredible things that are occasionally reported in books and in films? Yes they can. Don’t be deceived. They are human, and the truly impossible is impossible for them, too. But given dangerous tasks that persons who have not and often could not have measured up to their capacities, these men can accomplish pretty impressive and unusual things.

Appearances are very deceiving.

The fellow whose impressive physique has enabled him to win a “Mister” type title may be panic stricken at the mere thought of attempting certain of the tasks through the accomplishment of which the special operators have qualified for their positions. Parachuting. Rapelling. Cliff scaling. Surviving on literal jungle fare in the jungle. Downproofing and water survival. Pursuit by men and dogs. Experiencing real conditions of captivity and imprisonment, interrogation, and as close to actual physical and mental abuses as can be imposed without inflicting permanent injury or death (like water-boarding, and sleep deprivation). The ability to bench press 300 pounds and flex 18” biceps, impressive and real as these accomplishments might be, have nothing to do with the person’s ability to withstand and function well in spite of horrific, frightening, unhealthy, always risky wartime conditions.

You may be able to pass the fitness test to qualify for entry into a level of assessment training for special forces, but that does not say anything about your will or lack thereof to tackle the course and see it through despite fatigue, fear, pain, discouragement, hunger, and thirst.

Every special unit of every military service in the world recognizes that training the will, once it has been determined they have a recruit who already has a sizable degree of will power to begin with, is key.

For every trainee’s benefit we urge that he address this matter and take the development of his own will seriously. Teach yourself not to quit. This does not mean “don’t ever quit anything”. It means that, once you hae decided that a course of action is truly necessary and desirable, and that you want to attain the results of taking that course of action you set yourself to doing it, and do not allow anything to stop you. Easier to say than to do we admit.

Fear, fatigue, pain, and discouragement: These are the four obstacles that ––– in your training and in your life ––– it should be your goal and purpose to defeat, overcome, and triumph in spite of. 

Everyone experiences fear, but few act in spite of it, and continue when they know that that which they fear must be overcome.

Everyone experiences fatigue, but few will push themselves despite their desire to rest. When a situation is desperate and threatening, fatigue must be ignored and your vital reserves must be called upon to keep you in the (literal or figurative) battle.

Everyone feels and dreads pain. But when a situation is pressing, and an obstacle ––– human or otherwise ––– must be overcome, pain must be blocked out for the duration. Just do it! Pain relief can be sought when the matter has been resolved. This applies to mental/emotional as well as physical pain.

Everyone has known discouragement. Often it is enhanced by the nagativity of those around you, and the feeling of “what’s the use?” feels overwhelming. That feeling must be overcome. It must never be accepted as a valid guide to action when the matter at hand is a critical and urgent one. Don’t give up!

Training the WILL. It may not have occurred to you before how absolutely crucial this is for success in physical and close combat training. But you know it now.

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Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

                      Don’t Quarrel With Success

SOME people enjoy fussing with things just for the sake of fussing. They are not satisfied when an effective solution or method is achieved, but continue to pick and fiddle and “fine tune” and adjust. These individuals are regarded in some cases as tinkerers; but are often, well, pains-in-the-ass. They keep complicating and obfuscating everything, and as a result, they actually prevent good results and satisfactory conclusions.

The armed and unarmed combat arts are inundated with this “fix-it-whether-or-not-it-is-broken” attitude. It is reflected in the awful complexity and endless nit-picking of those who are never satisfied with a technique, a system, an idea, a tactic, a weapon, or what-have-you, and are in many instances literally impervious to hard-core stuff that works.

What is especially and particularly irritating is that simplicity, common sense, and flawless track records rarely count for much with these types. They want something new, improved, and better. We naturally applaud this attitude when in fact better ways and tools need to be sought because existing approaches and equipment fall short of achieving desired outcomes. But change and “newness” make no sense when that which one possesses works perfectly well.

In unarmed combat methods we know what works well and reliably, and that which does not. The field of unarmed close combat (not unarmed combat sports, but unarmed combat) has evolved to the point where every correct principle and tactic for success is known, and it remains only for those who train to adhere to those principles and tactics when selecting techniques and when building their personal repertoire. That which works has been discovered and uncovered in peacetime and in war by people who engaged in the activity ––– for real. Here’s what we know:

  • Blows and related tactics (i.e. biting, clawing, seizing, crushing) and strangling and choking, comprise the most effective, reliable, and adaptable skills for actual hand-to-hand combat that exist.

  • Throwing is a secondary skill, and ––– providing the throws meet the requirements of combat application and not mere contest requirements ––– constitute an important part of semi-advanced and advanced close combat and self-defense training.

  • Human beings are very difficult to stop when they are determined and aroused (as they may be assumed to be in any violent engagement) and therefore “one blow stops” are unrealistic goals in training, and very foolish in application. Enormous followup and relentless continuation of all-out effort is to be expected whenever engaged in violent combat. There is no easy or minimally-effortful way to get control over and neutralize a determined foe.

  • Size and strength, while not necessarily being decisive factors in determining the outcome of an engagement, definitely matter. Most particularly strength is important, and every technique depends to a lesser or greater degree upon the strength of the user for ultimate success.

  • The element of surprise is always crucial.

  • Offense must constitute the core strategy of dealing with any opponent. Doing the unexpected, catching the enemy off-guard, conveying the opposite of your true intentions, and pressing your attack without hesitation once you have gained the initiative is what wins. Self-defense is best achieved by attacking the attacker.

  • The open hand offers more and far better options than the clenched fist in combat, and only the simplest low kicks make sense in real world engagements.

  • The human body’s vital target areas number about 15, not the enormous number that many Asian systems insist upon; and it is these targets that should be attacked with all-out force, and against which relentless efforts to destroy must be directed. Injury and damage need to be achieved in order to be effective in close combat; “pain compliance” is ridiculous, except for police, security guards, and other peace keepers who must often control others without seriously damaging them.

  • Skills that have a “shelf life” (i.e. that one cannot use when one grows older and when one is not in hard training) should not be studied. Time and effort should be spent on those skills that will serve for a lifetime ––– or at least until the individual has grown extremely old and frail.

  • Maintenance of strength, fitness, and good all round condition should always be a concern of anyone training in combat skills. “Natural weapons” should be trained by impact work against striking aids: dummies, bags, posts, etc. This is more to provide experience in contact than to harden or to build up the natural weapons, per se.

  • Mental conditioning for combat is vital. Success in personal, individual combat depends at the very least 50% on mindset and attitude . . . and we (in American Combato) say that 90% is closer to a realistic assessment of the importance of mental attitude.

  • Self-defense or any hand-to-hand engagement in peacetime or in war is war in microcosm. And war is only properly fought and won with an anything goes, no restraint, no rules, no mercy, no acceptance of anything but the destruction of the enemy attitude and committment. In real combat animal ferocity and viciousness coupled with ruthless disregard for the enemy is the least that is demanded for a true fighting spirit!

  • Weaponry is not a separate area of study or training but is integral to combat training and readiness. And every close combat student must master improvised weapons and weapons-at-hand in addition to modern weapons. Additionally, unarmed combatants must anticipate armed enemies.

  • Risk is inevitable in all combat, regardless of how skilled and knowledgeable any expert may be. Never underestimate any adversary, and never underestimate yourself. Never overestimate any adversary, and never overestimate yourself. Unrelenting, serious practice ––– as much of it as is feasible, given time available, age, state of health and physical condition ––– is the only way to increase the odds of victory.

There, in fourteen points is summarized the core factors that we KNOW are necessary for success in close combat. Searching and toying with this, that, and the other thing in the martial arts, and falling for the stupid and outrageous gimmicks and promises that so many charlatans make and profit by making, will avail you nothing. Settle down to what works. Don’t quarrel with success. TRAIN!

In armed combat the same thing applies. Use of the handgun, the carbine, shotgun, rifle-and-bayonet, stick, knife, tomahawk, cosh, brass knuckles, blackjack, the smatchet, etc. is simple and direct, and the methods that have been established by men such as Fairbairn, Applegate, Sykes, O’Neill, Feldenkrais, Biddle, and Carlin, etc. provide the war-proven way to go. No “new technique” is required. All new systems (such as our own, American Combato) derive  their effectiveness by BUILDING UPON ALL OF THAT WHICH HAS BEEN PROVEN TO BE SUCCESSFUL, AND ADHERENCE TO THE LONG-AGO DISCOVERED FUNDAMENTAL ELEMENTS, not by coming up with some revolutionary, new way. Combat is not like the science and craft of medicine or the field of physical science or engineering. Much remains to be discovered about diagnosing, curing, and preventing human diseases, and much remains to be discovered within other hard sciences as well, that is not thus far known. But engaging other individual humans in deadly combat has been wrung out as a study . . . and now it remains only to build upon and keep training in those proven, established, successful ways and means that have long since been revealed through countless experiences and protracted studies by professionals. A”better” handgun or fighting knife may well be developed . . . but how to use it has already been discovered. And, truth be told, in many instances the older handguns and fighting knives, etc. remain the best!

Once again dear reader: Don’t quarrel with success!

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Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

              Speed

A correspondent asks (referring to a video he saw online) just how important it is to approximate the incredible speed of successive strikes that the martial arts master whom he saw was able to demonstrate. For visitors who may be interested in seeing this themselves, the Instructor is a gentleman by the name of John La Tourrette. We checked out the video and, indeed, this gentleman delivers a most rapid succession of strikes!

We do not know Mr. La Tourrette personally, and so we will not make any comments about him. According to that which we saw, his primary art is kenpo-karate, and his grading in this Art came from the late Ed Parker.

Regarding speed. Our personal belief is that speed is of course extremely important in close combat, and every student should strive to cultivate speedy delivery of his techniques. We don’t honestly believe, however, that speed should be cultivated at the expense of other necessary technical attributes. Power is very important. Accurate placement of whatever blows are being delivered so that they do the most damage, is important. (In other words, hit vital spots, if at all possible). Retaining balance while attacking or counterattacking is important. Taking the enemy by surprise is important.

So, we advise students to work incessantly on the cultivation of balance when it comes to delivery of skills against an adversary. Strive to be as fast as possible, as powerful as possible, as accurate as possible, while remaining solidly balanced from a physical standpoint, for continual attack/defense, and take the enemy by surprise whenever possible.

We certainly appreciate the speed with which Mr. La Tourrette is capable of striking. We cannot help but feel that, were he to deliver fewer blows with greater power in each blow, the series of hits would be more formidable against an actual attacker. For example: Mike Tyson does not hit as speedily as Mr. Tourrette (though he certainly hits with speed). We believe that getting hit once by Mr. Tyson would likely be more devastating and destructive than getting hit with a much faster flurry of blows by someone like Mr. Tourrette whose speed is extreme.

We do not say these things to denigrate or minimize the ability of Mr. La Tourrette or any of his students (who, presumably, are also very fast in delivering their actions). We are simply offering our view of the matter.

It is important to remember that physical speed, like every other attribute, diminishes as one grows older. This makes it very important not to be overly-reliant upon one pet attribute; which would leave you with nothing else as that attribute wanes. It also, in our opinion, underscores the necessary focus on developing the surprise attack, and on never relinquishing the element of surprise when working on one’s technical skills. A slower technique that catches the enemy completely by surprise will likely be more effective in paving the way to victory over him than would a much faster technique that he is able to anticipate.

We hasten also to add this: Speed is always facilitated by directness and simplicity of movement. A front kick to the testicles is faster than a spinning reverse heel kick. And when you are in your 60’s, we might add, is a helluva lot more likely to be possible to you!

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Wednesday, January 1st, 2020

  GUNS

AS we wend our way toward the age of 80 we find ourself becoming more and more appreciative of firearms and their irreplaceable importance and value for self-defense.

No way can the unarmed combat abilities we enjoyed in our younger years be counted upon today. Yes, we still retain a respectable ability in unarmed close combat and self-defense, in the use of a knife, and in stick methods, etc. ––– but even in our 20’s we recognized that these skills could never take the place of a combat pistol, a shotgun, or a 5.56 carbine. That’s why we included all modern hand-held weapons in the American Combato curriculum. Today, these skills ––– most particularly those with firearms ––– take on a greater importance in our own personal security and defense plans and training. Age and arthritis, two all but inevitable afflictions that come with time, remind us that the street garbage––– the predatory sh–t ––– in its teens, 20’s and 30’s, has some undeniable advantages over us in all-out close combat. These advantages, we happily note, can be nicely dealt with and overcome by Mr. Colt, Messrs. Smith and Wesson, and their relations (i.e. Browning, Remington, Heckler and Koch, Glock, Ruger, Springfield Armory, etc.).

We have no intention of ever submitting to victimhood should the unfortunate occurrence of an encounter with attacking felons ever arise. Guns provide a reasonably certain defense for ourself, our wife, and our home. And it is a defense that we intend to rely upon if necessary.

How do you feel about this?

Regardless of your age we would urge you to acquire practical weapon skills ––– to include of course the ultimate personal weapons: firearms.There is no substitute for guns.

If you are one of our students then you are well aware that weapons are integral to our System . . . and the use of the handgun is specifically taught at Black Belt level. But if you are training in another method that restricts itself to either unarmed action only, or to unarmed combat and antiquated weapons (beautiful indeed, but of no real practical value) then we suggest that you

––– First and foremost take a good course in firearms safety, handling, and shooting. 

––– Get familiar with semiautomatic (normally referred to as “automatic”) pistols, and revolvers. Both types of handgun are valuable and effective.

––– Decide upon the weapon(s) best suited to your needs and tastes.

––– Purchase the best quality-manufactured weapons no matter the cost. (This is not something for which you shop for budget items. You want the best.) 

––– Practice, practice, practice with your weapons. Learn combat work either from a teacher who emphasizes point shooting, or from the works of those combat experts who have described it in their publications. Kill Or Get Killed, Shooting To Live, and Quick Or Dead are first class sources of viable instruction.

One of the reasons why we left New York in the 1970’s is because of the unConstitutional, oppressive, insane, and unjust fanatical gun laws and restrictions. And while we cannot tell anoyone to relocate, we did, and anyone who knows what is happening in our society today might want to consider this option if he lives where gun laws all but completely prevent his owning and carrying a gun for self-defense.

True enough, you may never need to employ firearm skills (or unarmed combat skills) of any kind, ever. But it makes good sense to have these skills and these weapons, because if you ever do need them, you will need them immediately, and very, very badly!

If you are fortunate enough to reach what is euphemistically referred to as your “senior years” you will certainly be glad to know that ––– even at whatever advanced age you may be ––– you possess the means of stopping any powerful, determined aggressor in his tracks. In your case any “home invader” will leave in a body bag, and you and yours will survive! 

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the law as it applies where you live, regarding firearms and the use of deadly force in self-defense. You might want to obtain a PDF of our little booklet, “Combat Handgun Miscellany”. It costs $10. Send us ten bucks and clearly print your email address with your order, and we’ll get it to you immediately. Order from: Brad Steiner P.O. Box 15929  Seattle, WA. 98115.

If you are a “joiner” and wish to become part of a rational, well-run, aggressively effective pro-gun organization, we’d suggest Gun Owners of America. Larry Pratt runs this Organization, and in our personal opinion it stands head and shoulders above the NRA.

Guns are tools. Like all tools, they are manufactured for the purpose of assisting in the accomplishment of tasks. The “task” in the case of firearms is survival and self-defense, and the protection of your loved ones and your home. Certainly a worthy objective you will agree.

That some criminals misuse guns is a fact. But that criminals will always and inevitably obtain guns no matter what laws and regulations are imposed is also a fact. The private citizen who is armed and prepared to answer deadly force with deadly force is the only solution to armed criminal violence. “Gun control” is either a misguided concept by well-intentioned but ignorant individuals who legitimately oppose violent crime, OR it is a deadly action that is pursued by politically-motivated tyrants and their thugs to render a population helpless.

As a good guy we want you to know and to appreciate the great value of being armed and competent with guns. The bad guys have always known this.

Recommendation: A marvelous Documentary titled “Innocents Betrayed” is available on YouTube. It presents a thorough and utterly persuasive argument for private citizens to be well armed.

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