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.,7644.msg64151.html#new

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,7035.msg59778.html#new