Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The "Myth of the Duel"...Knives and Otherwise.

Are all those stabbings and slashings around the world, all Zorro-like, face-off duels? No.

 The "myth of the knife duel" is about limiting yourself and/or over-training dueling methods while striving for situational, reality knife fighting. The myth of the duel is using fencing or sparring as the main model for self defense training. This is the definition of "the myth of the duel." The stand-off where each opponent has the same size stick, a knife or are empty-handed. Sparring like this is not the full answer, can confuse and mislead.

 We live in a mixed-weapon world. Such a misleading knife course that over-duels, is unlikely to understand the full, modern, "Weapon-Matrix" options, like gun versus knife for one example. Many criminal and military knife attacks are like football or rugby with a knife with sudden and vicious collisions, not prolonged fencing matches.

 But, if you specialize in a specific era dueling or historical training dueling, and/or understand where the duel truly fits in the big picture, then you are among the enlightened, educating and pursuing your interests and the interests of your friends and students. Dan Inosanto once told us in the 1980s that the real reason for knife sparring was for footwork. And it really is fantastic for footwork.

 Of course, just as a good knife course covers knife ground fighting, it must also cover a proper proportion of so-called "knife dueling," because knife dueling may, has and does occur inside an overall knife fights in war and crime. We duel/spar a bit at every knife level I teach. We do the Killshot Knife Fighting Module to cover the subject, all the time remembering that if there is space between knife fighters, there are often other wise options than the continuance of the knife versus knife duel. Such as the photo above and to the left suggests, pick up something else and fight with it.

 So, are all those stabbings and slashings around the world, all Zorro-like, face-off duels? Or, are they sudden, passionate charges (like football players with knives) that involve a sucker punch, with a thrown ashtray at the face. A knife in the back? A chair vs. a knife? A struggle on the ground? Two bad guys cornering one guy. A very small knife vs. a machete? Or worse, unarmed vs. the knife?

 The very term "knife duel," in many training systems today does fancify and mislead what is really homicide-like or an ugly, vicious bloodletting. The training for knife fighting, as done by so many martial systems today, is a prissy, unrealistic game of tag with rubber toys, mentally detached to the virtually unspeakable horrors of knife wounds, knife maiming and edged weapon killing.

 This dueling concept is often a mitigating concept in all forms of fight-training, not just with knives. Hand. Stick and gun too. Will you always fight an opponent with your 28-inch stick versus his 28-inch stick? For another example, you may be mentally brainwashed into the "empty hand-versus-empty hand duel." If you only train in common, storefront, martial arts and unarmed combatives you will most likely forget to pick up a handy weapon in your environment. Use something as a battering ram or a shield. Sometimes to throw. Always get the edge. Get something to fight with. Always cheat, be tricky and use what's around you. This is easy to pontificate by some instructors, but their actual working outlines and doctrines miss this whole, vital point. Remember, night after night, you are building muscle memory. 

 The myth of the duel is really a two-prong problem. The second part is when you duel, you are sparring. If you are training fighters for a sports event, then follow those rules. But, a reality trainer really needs to take a hard look at sparring and what it really produces in class. I often hear instructors proclaim "We spar everything out," as if everything is ever-so, "battle-tested" as a point of pride or a tough-guy, sales pitch. But I think many are confusing sparring in a matted dojo with the slime of a back alley.

 First, let's quickly establish the characters in our sparring study. The instructor runs the show. The trainer is the attacker. The trainee is one we are all hoping to improve. There is free-style sparring and combat scenario..."sparring." Sparring done with protective gear is useful but only to a point. The gear saves the attacker/trainer from the real fight-ending injury. If the fight-ending injury is ignored by the padded trainer, then the session is counter-productive. The trainee soon forgets the real fight-enders because they are ignored by his partner. The finishing moves then de-evolve from his list. Ignorant, padded attackers ignoring fight-ending moves is the single reason why so many sparring matches become wrestling matches on the ground, often ending in choke-outs/tap-outs. Where else can they go? How else can they end it, when all other simulated fight-stopper, attacks are ignored. Just "sparring things out," sounds cool, but does not maximize the goal. I am talking about the next, higher level, whether you are freestyle sparring or combat scenario sparring, you cannot afford to ignore, solid, fight-ending moves. Ignoring them is a like a cancer to your training doctrine.

 Through the decades I've frequently taken this fact as such simple, common-sense. I foolishly forgot how many instructors fail to grasp this child-like truth. How can they not? I am mortified with this vast, blind ignorance. Be it hand, stick or knife, standing or on the ground, each sparring session needs a coach/instructor to step in and remind the fighters when every serious simulated strike is ignored and what that strike may have actually done to an unpadded person. Sometimes the coach needs to step in and just declare a winner. Reward the proper moves. Reprimand the lame and weak ones.

 "Reality training requires good acting."

 Reality training requires good acting. It sounds like a dichotomy but it is absolutely not. If you shot a trainer in the head with a sims ammo round, the helmeted trainer should act like he was...shot in the face, not completely ignore the bullet! This would be an injustice to the trainee and a glitch in the training mission. The same is true with a knife stab, a stick hit or a solid elbow to the face. Actors/attackers should react conservatively, not ham up the injury, though at times opponents do get hurt this badly.

 We have kicked around a lot of subjects here from knife dueling on down to acting. The myth of the duel and sparring is very deep and appears in many aspects of training. It is a mythology that lots of martial trainers and students worship and...mishandle.

 Adios Amigos

W. Hock Hochheim

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Mosin Nagant 91/30 An Honest Review

By Joel Persinger


A few weeks ago I picked up a 1942 Mosin Nagant 91/30. I had just finished teaching a basic pistol class and stopped into the pro shop at the range to talk with the range manager. I never got to talk with the manager, but I did buy a rifle.

While I was waiting for the manager to appear, I noticed the old Russian girl standing in the gun rack next to so many sleek new rifles. When my eyes drifted over the price tag I just had to see it. Once I held it and fiddled with it a bit, I thought... "What the heck!" So, I bought it for $143.00 out the door (including taxes and the California government fees).

After I bought the Mosin I made the mistake of looking on the web to find out about it. What I found was endless opinions about the Mosin Nagant as an "end of days/SHTF" rifle, a hunting rifle or a home defense rifle. The discussions go on adnauseam. After having purchased one, cleaned it up and shot it, I think I've figured out what it can and cannot do. So here comes yet another opinion... mine.

How did it shoot?

After a couple of hours spent cleaning the cosmoline out of the 69-year old rifle, it actually looked like I might have gotten my hands on something interesting. From what I could tell, the rifle appeared to have been refurbished or perhaps simply never issued to a soldier. So, I took it completely apart, checked the function of the gun and the firing pin adjustment to make sure it was safe to fire and went to the range. I had purchased some surplus 7.62x54R ammunition, so I thought I'd start with that.

It was a good day to try the rifle, since my partner and I had just finished teaching a pistol skill builder and the range was not being used. I set up a paper target and launched some rounds at it from 50 yards to see if I was on the paper. Right away I noticed two things. 1) The gun was LOUD! 2) It did not have the punishing recoil I had read about. Sure, it pushed back at me when I pressed the trigger. But the recoil was manageable and actually quite soft for a rifle firing a powerful cartridge. My business partner, Mike Ritz, felt the same way after he fired it.


The sites were a little off, causing my rounds to strike about six inches to the right. I didn't have a mallet or brass punch with which to adjust them, so I had to deal with it the old-fashioned way. After applying a little Kentucky windage, I was able to put three rounds in the center of the target in a group that measured slightly less than 1 1/2 inches. Once I had the sites figured out, the rifle consistently grouped under two inches. In fact, I had two groups which measured under one inch. That's pretty good for a $140 rifle that's almost 70 years old, particularly when firing surplus military ammunition. Suffice it to say that accuracy was good.


Although the gun functioned almost flawlessly, the bolt was quite rough and the trigger was pretty bad. The bolt tended to stick after firing a round. This was probably due to some cosmoline I missed when I first cleaned the rifle. As a result, cycling the bolt was challenging, although the problem seemed to go away after I fired three or four rounds. The trigger was of the standard military variety. I didn't measure the trigger pull, but it was pretty heavy and the trigger had quite a bit of creep. All that having been said, for what it is, the Mosin Nagant is a great rifle. I'm very glad I bought it.

Dependability and usefulness:

The Mosin Nagant is an ugly, simple, rugged and utterly reliable rifle that was designed to be issued to illiterate peasants and conscripts who had little if any rifle training. The rifle is dirt simple and can be used and cared for by anyone given a modicum of instruction (like ten minutes). By design, the rifle is meant to take abuse and still keep shooting. Basically, the Mosin Nagant is an old bolt action battle rifle that was perfect for what it was designed to be. But how does it fit for a home defense, end of days (SHTF, WOROL) or hunting rifle?

As a home defense gun it leaves a lot to be desired. It is too long, too heavy and too powerful to be an ideal home defense gun. You're better off with a short shotgun or a good handgun. The same problems present themselves when you contemplate using the Mosin to hold off a determined group of thugs in an "end of days, SHTF" scenario. With the Mosin's slow rate of fire and limited magazine capacity, you would be much better off with an AK-47 variant, a Mini-14 or a good AR15. Again, similar issues pop up when you think of the Mosin being an ideal hunting rifle. As a hunting rifle, it's HEAVY, long and cannot be easily fitted with a scope. A much better choice would be a light and quick handling modern rifle with a good scope.

All that having been said, not everyone can afford a home defense shotgun, handgun, AR15 or a nice hunting rifle with a scope. When we consider the reality of the pocket book, the problem with the Mosin Nagant is not with the rifle, the problem is people's expectation that the Mosin Nagant should somehow manage to be ideal for any task other than the one for which it was designed. As a result, it is not "ideal" for most things. For example: It's not ideal for home defense. However, I would not want to be on the business end of one! Being hit squarely with a 7.62x54R round will put just about anybody's face in the dirt. It's not ideal for an "end of days, SHTF" gun. Still, it isn't all that bad a choice either. It's rugged, utterly reliable, cheap and supremely capable of killing anything that walks in North America. It's not fast. But when combined with a good quality fighting handgun it doesn't need to be. If the bad guys are up close, transition to your short gun. If they're far away, bust out that Mosin. Lord knows that if you hit 'em, they're not going to fight with you anymore. Besides, if the dude you shoot has a nice AR15, you can take his. After all, he won't be needing it. It's not ideal for hunting. Still, the 7.62x54R round is perfectly suitable for taking both medium and large game anywhere in North America. Actually, I plan on taking my Mosin Nagant 91/30 deer and pig hunting this year. But, keep in mind that if you buy a Mosin for hunting, you probably won't have a scope. I wouldn't let that bother you. Folks were hunting successfully without scopes long before any of us were born. Many people still do. So, there's no reason why you can't.

The bottom line is that the Mosin Nagant isn't the ideal rifle for anything. But, if you're on a budget, it's a darn good rifle for just about everything. You can buy one for around $150 or less and you can buy a "spam can" containing 440 rounds of surplus ammunition for less than $90. What a deal! So, let's recap: the Mosin Nagant is cheap, accurate, strong, reliable, powerful and always goes bang. Works for me!

Monday, May 2, 2011


Go and check out pragmaticmartialarts.com thoughts on sparring & realistic testing of your training.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Force Science exhaustion study

Just in: Final findings from Force Science exhaustion study

The Force Science research team that explored officer exhaustion through a unique set of experiments in Canada last September has now issued its official findings--first presented in detail in the Force Science Certification Course conducted in Wisconsin this past week (4/18-4/22) and scheduled for integration into future courses--with these significant conclusions:

• Less than 60 seconds of all-out exertion, such as an officer might expend in trying to control a combative offender, can deplete the average LEO's physical reserves and put his life in peril;

• Environmental awareness and memory are also affected adversely, hampering an involved officer's ability to deliver accurate, detailed statements and testimony once a desperate fight is over;

• Even officers in top condition are not immune to the rapid drain of physical prowess and cognitive faculties resulting from sustained hand-to-hand combat.

"The bottom line," says Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Institute who headed up the research team, "is this: If an officer can't resolve a struggle very quickly, a tactical withdrawal or swift escalation to a higher level of force may be necessary and justified for personal survival. And investigators and courts need to understand that an officer who doesn't provide details surrounding a major physical conflict is not necessarily being deceptive, malicious, or uncooperative."

TEST DESIGN. Force Science News explained the testing sequence of this research in Transmission #159 [9/24/10] soon after the project launched (click here to read it.) To recap:

Researchers recruited 52 officer volunteers (42 males, 10 females), ranging in age from 23 to 51, with an average of 8 years on the job. All were "familiar with officer safety training involving high aerobic physical engagement," according to Dave Blocksidge, a Force Science Analyst from the London (England) Metropolitan Police, and one of the research team.

"During an initial briefing, all the subjects were told to remain alert and try to absorb and remember as much as they could about what took place," Lewinski says.

First they were given a crime report to read, which included details about the m.o. and descriptions of an armed robbery crew that had attacked 3 locations. Then in a gym used for training by the Winnipeg (Manitoba) Police Service, the officers were paired, with one-half instructed one at a time to launch a full-force physical attack on a 300-lb. hanging water bag and the others (a control group) assigned as "partners" to observe as the action took place. All were fitted with heart-rate monitors and the "physical exerters" also donned VO2 masks to measure oxygen consumption and gas exchange.

The exerters were told to attack the bag with as much ferocity as they could muster, selecting their own "assault movements"--punches, kicks, and/or palm, elbow, and knee strikes. During the attack, a researcher shouted "encouragement" ("Harder! Faster!") on 3 occasions. Once the name of a familiar intersection in Winnipeg was yelled out and another time a random 3-digit number was hollered. Unknown to the participants, all this would prove relevant later in a memory test.

The exerters were to sustain assailing the bag until they no longer had strength to keep going or until they were visibly maxed out ("breathless and struggling to continue") and were told to stop by exercise physiologist Justin Dixon of the London Police, who supervised this part of the experiment.

"In terms of upper-body involvement and energy expended, the bag drill realistically replicated a full-force fight by a moderately trained officer to control a strong, dynamically resisting suspect," Lewinski explains. "Two officers actually collapsed, and the rest were severely taxed as they moved on to the next phase of the test."

That required the exerter to run upstairs and outside to a trailer that a "known felon" was suspected of occupying, a distance of 145 feet. En route, the officer passed a gaudily dressed role-player holding an electric drill, who stared at the exerter intently but said nothing and made no aggressive moves.

Inside the trailer, the officer found a "living room" mocked up with furniture and a variety of visible weapons, including an M16 carbine, a revolver, a sawed-off shotgun, and a large kitchen knife. After a 5-second delay, a "critical target" emerged from another room--"a large, black, middle-aged male," wearing a black t-shirt, blue jeans, and a black bandana. He screamed profanities at the officer, commanding him/her to get out. He was not armed, although several of the weapons were within his easy reach.

The trailer scenario lasted about 15 seconds. After that, the exerter was permitted some "recovery time" while his observer partner ran through the same trailer exercise.

After 3 minutes' rest, Dixon drew a blood sample from each participant to measure lactic acid levels. The officers were also given informational "updates" about the robbery crew.

Then all completed a battery of memory tests administered by Dr. Lorraine Hope, a cognitive psychologist from England's University of Portsmouth. This testing included a review of what exerters and observers could remember about what had happened and a photo lineup in which the officers were asked to pick out the suspect they'd confronted in the trailer.

PHYSICAL DECLINE. The heart monitors, face masks, and blood tests all confirmed that exerters reached an intense level of energy output during the bag blitz. Heart rates, for example, leaped from an average resting rate of 73 bpm to an average maximum of 179 for the bag beaters, significantly higher than the modest average rise to 104 bpm for the observers. The exerters' blood lactate levels, reflecting the amount of exertion and affecting muscle function, skyrocketed up to 13 times the normal resting concentration. "It was impressive how committed these officers were to going flat out," Lewinski remarks.

Most dramatic--and alarming--was the speed at which exerters depleted their physical resources. On average, the officers spent 56 seconds hitting the bag, although some either quit or were called out as thoroughly exhausted after as little as 25 seconds. The blows they were able to deliver ranged from a low of 73 to a high of 274. The average was 183. The overwhelming majority of hits were fist punches.

Reviewing time-coded video of the action, researchers were able to count second by second the number of times each participant struck the bag. The average officer peaked at 15 seconds. After that, the frequency of strikes fell in a sharp and steady decline.

"The officers started out strong, driving hard with penetrating hits that visibly moved the heavy bag," Lewinski reports. "But by 30 to 40 seconds, most were significantly weakened. They were not able to breathe properly, their cadence dropped, their strikes scarcely moved the bag if at all, and they were resorting largely to very weak, slowly paced blows that would have had little impact on a combative assailant."

In effect, Blocksidge states in a paper he has written about the research, the exerters "delivering a concerted and sustained physical assault...'punched themselves out' " in a matter of seconds.

Perhaps surprisingly, this seemed true even of officers with a high level of personal fitness and fighting skill. Blocksidge offers this explanation: "Fitter officers delivered faster and more powerful strikes," expending greater effort and thus exhausting their presumably greater reserves in "roughly the same time" as those less fit and skilled.

MEMORY DEFICIT. The officers' exertion proved, for the most part, closely associated with incomplete and faulty memories of what they experienced. The exerters remembered "less visual and auditory information" and made "greater errors in recall" compared to the observing control group, Blocksidge reports.

Exerters and observers were asked to estimate within 90% the number of each type of blow delivered against the heavy bag. Exerters scored significantly better than observers in recalling the number of elbow, knee, and palm strikes they'd made. 89% of exerters, for example, estimated within the accepted accuracy range the number of elbow hits, compared to only 45% of observers.

"However, there were very few elbow, knee, and palm strikes made overall, so they tended to stand out in the exerters' memory," Lewinski explains. "But with the most common hits--punches--it was a far different story." 25% fewer exerters than observers were able to estimate accurately the number of fist blows. "The more exhausted officers were, the less accurate their estimates tended to be," notes researcher Hope.

Observers also were able to recall more by wide margins than exerters about the information that was shouted out during the bag blitz. Likewise, they were more accurate and more detailed in remembering information about the robbery crew.

As to the man with the drill who was encountered en route to the trailer, more than 90% of observers were able to recall at least one descriptive item about him, whereas nearly one-third of exerters did not remember seeing him at all.

Everyone remembered seeing the angry male in the trailer, but observers were able to correctly describe significantly more things about him, while making an average of half as many errors. And during the photo lineup, 54% of the observers correctly identified the suspect, compared to only 27% of the exerters. Typically, the tired officers expressed little certainty about the identifications they did make.

"As exhaustion takes over, cognitive resources tend to diminish," Lewinski explains. "The ability to fully shift attention is inhibited, so even some potentially relevant information tends to get screened out. Ultimately, memory is determined by where the focus of attention was during an event. The exerters were zeroed in on delivering blows during the bag blitz. Afterward, they typically had little cognitive resources left."

During the trailer encounter, however, the exerters were able to register threat cues. Here, in fact, their responses were virtually identical to those of observers. Six observers and 5 exerters remembered seeing no weapons at all. The most weapons noticed were 2, recalled by 4 observers and 5 exerters. However, 16 officers in each category remembered seeing one weapon, usually the largest (the carbine). (After noticing one, the researchers speculate, most officers may simply have quit scanning for more, having confirmed a potential life threat.)

"Fear conditioning through training," Blocksidge writes, apparently "enables simple processing" of threat and danger cues to continue on some level "despite the impact of exhaustion and anxiety." The ability to respond effectively to such cues, however, would be gravely degraded in an exhausted state, Lewinski points out.

IMPLICATIONS. As Lorraine Hope notes, "The legal system puts a great deal of emphasis on witness accounts, particularly those of professional witnesses like police officers." After a violent confrontation, Blocksidge states, "it is commonly believed" that officers are capable of recalling relevant particulars, "such as subject position, number of blows, time sequences, verbal comments, and the position of colleagues.... Policing is quite unique within the cognitive field, since officers are [expected] to operate in a dual-task mode of...taking action whilst remembering...information."

The gap documented by the study between what exerters and observers were able to remember means that in real-world conflicts "substantial aspects of visual details may remain [unnoticed] by active or involved witnesses while being noticed and attended by passive witnesses," Blocksidge writes.

"If investigators and force reviewers don't understand the implications of this study," Lewinski cautions, "an officer's memory errors or omissions after an intense physical struggle may unjustly affect his or her credibility. We think we have a lot of attentional resources working for us at all times, but in reality we don't."

In addition to illuminating memory issues, Lewinski is hopeful that the research findings will underscore the importance of tactical pre-assessment in deciding whether to engage or temporarily back off from potential physical conflict. "Officers need to read situations better before getting physically involved, knowing they have a limited capacity for all-out exertion," he says.

When a struggle does occur, he hopes the findings will help officers, trainers, investigators, and reviewers better appreciate the justification in desperate circumstances for escalating force in order to end a dangerous fight quickly. "The longer physical combat lasts," he explains, "the more at risk an officer is to the dire consequences of exhaustion. Very quickly an officer can reach the point of not having the energy or the ability to physically overcome resistance. Even a few seconds may make a difference between getting a suspect under control or the officer ending up badly hurt or killed."

Sgt. Jason Anderson of Winnipeg Police Service's Safety Unit, who assisted with the experiments, expresses gratitude for the study. He says it provides "data we can bring to court from a scientific organization using scientific methods and give the court the ability to properly assess these situations fairly."

Statistical details from the study, which was funded fully by the Force Science Institute, will be included in a report the research team is preparing for publication in a peer-reviewed professional journal.


Monday, April 11, 2011


Are You Ready For the Next Level in Combat Stick & Knife Sparring?

By Joe Hubbard

"It's sparring night again and this week we are going to do some knife sparring", the teacher declares. The students, filled with adrenaline and knives at hand begin with their weekly showdown. They both move in and out like two kick boxers exchanging blows. Protected with helmets and pads they begin to ignore all the diminishing and deadly killshots they have exchanged. To somehow end the round, one charges in, takes the other person down and proceeds to wrestle. The so-called deadly knife fight suddenly ends with a submission choke. Slashes to vital targets are totally ignored even though real slashes to exposed vital targets would have ended the fight way before the choke. Often the guy who was choked out is the one who would have survived the real encounter because he had landed the first shot to the neck seconds after the fight started. But unfortunately, after a while most sparring that takes place becomes more of a study in endurance submission fighting than knife fighting.

Does this sound like a ridiculous way to prepare for a real knife fight? It's only one step away from the esoteric jokers who'll tell you that you must hit that pinhead nerve two inches above the wrist under a puffer jacket in a dark alley or nightclub to render your opponent unconscious.

In fact, so much of sparring training is disproportionate to actual events that you may experience in a real confrontation. This causes great concern because the strategies and tactics designed to protect your life are programmed right out of your muscle memory in favour of a college-wrestling match!

Knife fights are supposed to end by hitting vital areas of the body. Any knife expert will tell you that it is not whether you slash, stab or hack, it is where those strikes land that are important. The same is also true with impact weapons. I love those guys who tell you that you won't hurt anybody with a rattan stick, let alone a metal pipe! I have witnessed grown men who were champion fighters get rapped on the knuckles and were doubled over in pain. You cannot afford take one of these shots. Not to the arm, the legs or more importantly to the head. Yet how many hardcore, helmeted stick fighters virtually ignore headshots and keep on fighting eventually hitting the dirt, throwing their stick away and turn themselves into Brazilian pretzel fighters?

Real impact weapon fighting is about the attack and defense of the headshot, along with a keen focus on the weapon-bearing limb. OK, it is possible while in the heat of battle that some adrenalised humans may withstand a shot to the torso, the arm and the leg, while the hand/wrist, elbow, knee and of course the head may diminish, devastate and even cripple. It has to be said that a power shot to the head may also kill!

Does stick and knife sparring prepare you for actual combat in these areas? Most are led to believe this from their instructors, many who know very little at all about this subject. Sparring (weapons or empty hand) does not prepare you for real combat! It is part of a whole training matrix that prepares you for the actual event. Tactical application of attacking and defending the headshot while employing the use of force continuum will start to provide you with an understanding of a real-world fight whatever the context.

Stick fighting competitions are often set in an unrealistic and maddening format of point fighting where the headshot only gives you a single point. Many of these matches also do not allow empty hand strikes, kicks or moving footwork. One such match I attended displayed two world-class stick fighters standing in front of each other trading fan strikes and pummel shots. The deciding factor at the end of the round was the victor had landed 52 strikes while the loser had only 49. COME ON! Who hit who first?

Throughout his police career, W. Hock Hochheim has witnessed and been involved many impact weapon and knife attacks and has viewed countless prison¹s riot footage. From this real world experience he observed that while some people could take blows to the body, very few would ever endure a headshot. In 1997 Hock created the Killshot Training Program and has hosted tournaments that has brought real strategy and tactics back into this ever fading picture.

In Killshot training and fights, hitting the enemy's head diminishes his power, consciousness and sensibility either by a shocking jolt or by knocking him out cold. Even if your helmet gets nicked, it represents a stun that without that protective layer may cause you to see stars. This is a fact! I have seen people hit by accident in training to the head and it momentarily short circuits their brain giving ample openings to takedowns, disarms and finishes by their opponent. Don't let the unqualified tell you that disarms won't work. You must hit the head first with a baseball bat, and then they will work.

In the Killshot blueprint, referees must oversee each fight. Participants still wear protective padding and of course helmets! But if either fighter receives a solid shot to the head, the coach immediately breaks up the fight. After, there is an instantaneous debriefing between the coach and the two fighters. "You are dead or possibly just unconscious" or "Your head is split wide open." This verbal acknowledgement of taking a serious blow trains the participant¹s muscle memory and creates a realistic impression of what exactly happened to him. A headshot is no longer a transition in the quest for that fang choke on the ground. With each and every headshot, the fight must be stopped in order for that body/mind connection to be driven home time and time again. Only then will the practitioner strive to protect his vitals, re-educating that free-for-all mentality with a reality-based replication scenario.

In our Killshot stick tournaments, a power shot to the head results in an immediate and swift loss. This could happen in seconds. As a bouncer, I soon realised that all my years of training resulted in a four second fight! This concept comes to light in these tournaments. Champion point fighters have "lost their lives" in the first few seconds of a Killshot tournament. We also use ankle and wrist weights to simulate wounding. The Killshot concept emphasizes shots to the opponent¹s weapon bearing limb in order to clear a path to the head. If a fighter receives a blow to his weapon-bearing limb, the coach stops the fight and instructs the victim to switch hands. We then strap on a five-pound weight on the wounded arm simulating a swollen, heavy injury. It is important to note that a bigger, stronger person may not be affected by the five-pound weight as a smaller, skinnier person, but then a power blast to a bigger arm may cause less injury to the stronger person. Remember, size does matter, but size along with the proper training matters more! If the leg or knee takes a significant attack, we strap on ankle weights. The fight rages on. These simulated injuries will slow the practitioner down and teach him the consequences of his tactical mistakes.

If the second newly armed hand is smashed, the fight is stopped again. We take away his stick, weigh him down and he is forced to fight empty hand against the stick. These all constitute realistic possibilities in combat. Sometimes the result of this scenario ends with the unarmed man defeating the armed man. As in real life predicaments ¬ the chaos of combat rules - learn to thrive in it!

Stick ground fighting still happens, but empirically with much less frequency when headshots get counted for real. Killshot fighters do clinch, but a smaller percentage end up on the ground. When they do we do not throw away our weapons. This is where the use of the Dos Manos (double handed system) comes into play. Simulated pummel strikes, chokes and a variety of other life-saving ground combat tactics, previously weaned out of your stick ground fighting, suddenly have true merit.

There are pros and cons to everything. There is no perfect way to run any form of competition or classroom sparring match. But at the end of it all you must ask yourself, "What have I learned?" If your goal is to get together with friends, duke it out with each other and eventually end up on the ground wrestling, then understand it for what it is. Just remember there is much more to the true science of hand-to-hand, impact weapons, knife and real world survival ground fighting.

In paintball games, when the referee sees the paint hit you, you are out of the game. Oh, it would be great macho fun to ignore the paint splattering all over you and charge in guns a' blazing. The only problem is you are training for suicide by doing that! Why is this so easy to see in the context of paintball, but so hard for stick and knife fighters to understand? Training with plastic knives is fine as long as you don't forget that when one hits you in a vital target such as your neck, although we do simulate "bleed out" time, you are dead. Don't end up dead wrong just because you are repetitively programming your "muscle memory with erroneous training methods. Train hard, but more importantly train smart!

Impact Weapon, Knife, Stick and Knife

1) Winner of 2 out of 3 rounds is declared a winner.

2) Winning is achieved by a participant deliering, what is assumed to be a knockout or killing blow. And in the act of moving in and out while delivering that blow, the deliverer does not receive a killing blow. If both receive "death blows" then neither win. The event must be played over, unless it is the deciding round, in which case no one wins.

3) In a stick battle, a killing blow is to the head or neck.
Note: Witik and Abinikko strikes to the head will not be considered Killshots. However,
any Power follow through single strike or combination to the head will end the fight!

4) In a knife battle, a killing blow is to the head or neck, or an obvious inner thigh or obvious inner wrist cuts.

5) Rules of wounding and simulating injury.
a) If the weapon-bearing limb is significantly hit, the fight is stopped. The victim
places a wrist weight on the injured hand; switches weapon hands and the fight
resumes. If both weapon hands are struck in the event, then the victim puts on
another wrist weight and faces the enemy unarmed.

b) If a kneecap or other leg strike is considered significant, the fight is stopped.
Some device will be placed on the ankle or knee to weigh down or limit leg
movement. The fight resumes.

6) We ask the participants to be honest about their successes or failures.

7) Judges start each round with participants facing each other and an announcement that the match begins. We ask that one to three judges work on each match. We ask the judges to feel free to have confusing clashes "played over" if they cannot decide who-hit-whom first and have trouble determining the events.

8: We ask viewers and participants to understand that no simulated tournament is perfect and to be patient with the process.

9) All participants must wear protective equipment including helmets, elbow & kneepads, shin guards, groin guards and gloves. Further proactive equipment may be worn such as chest guard.

10) As a default rule, padded sticks & knives will be used. However, if any two fighters agree, they may use rattan sticks of their choice.

• Stick vs Stick
• Knife vs. Knife
• Stick vs. Knife
• Double Weapons vs. Double Weapons
• Double Weapons vs. Single Weapons


Sunday, January 16, 2011

who, what, where, when, how and why

In the who, what, where, when, how and why of life, positioning falls into the "where" category. Where are you? Where is he?

To me that is big topic. From the macro to the micro. In BJJ or any submission wrestling tunnel vision, positioning means only the micro, the very small little positions of your body versus his body. Inches. Half-inches. less. How many times have you heard a BJJ practitioner declare-

"the most important thing I have learned is positioning."

MAN! I have heard it a lot of times.

Think about that. Think about what that actually means inside their world. Think about what that means to them within their confinements. Does it really mean positioning to get a submission hold or a choke? When I hear that remark from a BJJ practitioner (and by that, I mean ANY submission fighter...wrestlers too) I always feel a little uncomfortable for them. I mean, I know what they mean. Yes it is important. But it is very micro in body and mind. It is actually as important as everything is important. I mean, if I said the most important thing to me in a ground fight is breaking the guy's nose, someone would agree me. Positioning my body and my arm so that my hammer fist can be position onto his nose. About six times. Why not seven?

To me, positioning means MANY things, like getting behind cover in a gun fight. Getting outside someones arms for a take down. Working my way to a door way to escape fast. Cutting off an escape route for a fugitive. All that is real world positioning.

If you know me for years now, you know I have these commandments of fighting system doctrine preparation. Macro to micro. Mission. Strategies. Tactics. Situations and on down to micro - the smallest positions. Your training doctrine depends on your mission. Look at this from a WW II perspective:

Mission - invade Europe on D-Day
Strategy - how do we do it? By boat. Beach landings. Air support.
Tactics - what generic tactics do the troops need to execute this strategy
Situational - what specific tactics will a soldier need to fight in these identified
situations. Identify the situations and train those tactics
Positional - the last little section. Probably the most intricate, if there is time to
train it. Learning these tiny specifics of those tactics in those situations.

A wrestlers world is very small. If your world is small, you can worry more and fuss about small things. You can meet at 8 pm twice a week and roll around, working on a mat doing small things, for years and years and years - work for many years, which will do almost NOTHING for preparing you for a wolf pack attack by three thugs at an ATM machine, or killing a Nazi hiding with a subgun in a ruined building. Or dodging a crack head. I mean there is SO MUCH. AND so MUCH positioning involved in everything, that for a fighter to declare that minuscule positioning in a matted ground fight is the most important fighting attribute....is small. That is not a system geared for real word survival or self defense. You are not just re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. You are on the wrong boat.

That kind of micro positioning is not everything when it comes to a mixed weapon, mixed person (size, shapes, strengths) mixed terrain world of combatives.

We fight in a mixed weapon, mixed persons, mixed terrain world.

More on this later.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Trap of Trapping

The Trap of Trapping

I get these questions a lot, and especially lately since Training Mission 9 is being constructed and the official subject of trapping doesn't seem to be in it...

"Has Invading Hands been removed from the UC course, or will it still appear as a separate module?"

"When will you do a trapping hands DVD?"

Yes and no to the both of these questions! But...

There is nothing wrong with isolating and developing skills in parts of any training movement, and trapping is a part. It is only when we erect a shrine in that one part, we start to lose our way. I was once in an empty hand system that did over 100 different kinds of trap sets. Trapping consisted of about 80% of the entire system? Where was the space for the ground fighting? Anything else?

Trapping takes place in less than a camera snapshot of time and on a few, mere inches on the floor - yet for some, trapping gets an entire "range." I have come to think though time, that trapping gets entirely too much attention and many spend a disproportionate amount of training time on it, compared to other bigger, longer events.

And the actual Four Ps:


...are so very simple when you dilute them into their essence, then connect them to hand, stick, knife and gun. I aim to de-mystify trapping! It is indeed the four Ps in the clock directions. And they are easier and smarter to learn when directly connected to bigger events such as the striking and kicking that comes before them and the grappling that comes after them.

Hand trapping is a very short, brief, bridging event, virtually, seamlessly connected to the bigger events before and after the trap.

In fact, it works for people to remove the "Trapping Range" from their range list and simply add traps to end of long-range, or the beginning of grappling range. Giving them their own range, automatically over-emphasizes them. Over emphasizing traps...is well..a trap...and confuses people and steers them off into too much trapping (see Remy Presas notes that follows)

Most simple takedowns involves a brief trapping entry and/or trapping connection to the body. In this mixed weapons world, I thought it would be a waste of time to just do the hand-to-hand, trapping-only methods, and given the naysayers and criticisms (some just by the way) I decided to bury trapping into the bigger crashing and grappling events. Naysayers of trapping say-

"That can't work!"

"That won't work!"

They are really observing and commenting on the systems that over-do and over-emphasize trapping at the expense of other range training. YET! These people trap too! And they never make the connection that they do! A UFC fighter will laugh at trapping hand class, yet they do the fundamental moves too! Automatically and seamlessly attached to the end of the crashing and striking range material and the beginning of the grappling range. They just don't travel to a Chinese temple or overdo the study. They seem to do pretty well!

I mean to say that these big crash and takedown fights often contain a quick trap, and in so subtle a fashion, people don't even notice there was a trap involved! Look at jujitsu. It is full of pinning, passing, pulling or pushing the opponent's limbs to get in, get on and do a takedown. Any manipulation of the limbs, these four Ps, are traps, and everyone is doing them as parts of bigger movements. Silat traps. Jujitsu traps, UFC traps, Karate traps...well, everyone traps. But they don't know it? And in this context, the Unarmed Combatives course is already full of "trapping."

I have once even changed the title of the trapping subject to Invading Hands, to escape some of these blind criticisms in an attempt to re-think the whole subject. Trapping ALONE really has never appeared in my UC course. Yet, the course is FULL of traps as they are seamless attached to bigger events.

Many trapping-based systems innocently have bongo-playing moves because in the trap-world, some people think advanced trapping must therefore lead to 4 and 5 deep bongo-playing on the arms. I think this is a misappropriation of training time.

I think what has happened to the Remy Presas system, now almost full time trapping/Tappi-Tappi, and is a classic example of the worst of over-emphasizing trapping. How did that happen? If you spend too much time with the tapi, a Dog Brother is just going to split your head open with a power swing, while slap/tap happy people are waiting to bongo the attackers and go 4 deep with cool, arm manipulations....and BANG! Goes the club to the head! With the over-emphasize on tapi-tapi, you wind up redefining stick fighting and it is well...its wrong. (Old-school Remy was not this way, by the way, only new-school tappi-happy, tapi-tappiers)

To me, trapping transcends just hand-to-hand, and its Four Ps movements occur in a hand, stick, knife and even gun (pistol and long gun) fighting. Anytime you do the four Ps. Given this big, mixed-weapon picture there is enough, good important information to justify a whole hand, stick, knife gun study module, where even bayonet trapping is connected to the basic principles used with the hand. And here is the study worthy of inspection to me.

So, in answer do those asking, "where did the trapping hands go? in the Training Mission and course levels?
Pretty much in the entries to grappling. They almost become invisable! And the critics go away!

Invading Hands, Sticks, Knives and Guns will have its own Training Mission Theme Module and DVD (like Arm Wraps) http://www.hockscqc.com/shop/product162.html (an arm wrap by the way, is also trap, an immobilization of a limb). In fact, there is so much uniqueness to knife-only, entry, dueling and trapping with knives, it deserved its whole DVD onto itself, but not a whole knife level.

In summary:

Trapping is the pinning, pushing, pulling or pushing of the opponents limbs to clear a path to a better target.

Trapping skills are mandatory, yet...

Trapping is often over-studied at the expense of other things.

Trapping is better attached to before-and-after methods of a crash and takedown fighting

Trapping is simple and needs to be de-shrined.

Trapping is misunderstood and disrespected because of all of the above

Trapping can work and does work all the time for all systems

Trapping involves hand, AND stick, knife and CQC firearms

Trapping is so quick and deeply embedded in these bigger events and systems, unsophisticated people cannot see it.

As I started this essay out...

"There is nothing wrong with isolating and developing skills in parts of any movement.
Trapping is a part. It is when we erect a shrine in that one part, we start to lose our way."