Answers…or Questions?

Training partner of mine said something today that I thought was very well put. Paraphrasing roughly:

“Most martial arts offer answers;

Interdisciplinary (or multi-disciplinary) training presents questions.”


ECQ Knife Defense Takedown

Craig Douglas posted this refinement of the Underhook and Bicep Tie clinch in knife defense at the Shivworks Alumni page here:


The Hook N Ties are my favored Enhanced Close Quarters clinch as they are conducive to many takedowns. Seeing this refinement Craig offered, I saw a great opening for combining knife defense with a leg sweep takedown based in the same body mechanics and postural manipulation this position provides.

Here they are:

Front and back views:


Some description on the mechanics from the back view, showing how the underhook and postural mechanics work:


Methed Martial Arts


Ever handle a guy tweaking hard on meth?

Or try to restrain him without any damage done – to him or you!

PCP? Spice? Bath Salts? In the throes of excited delirium?

There’s a point – you will not talk them down. That doesn’t happen and anyone who says different is selling something….

Perhaps someone having a psychotic break?

How ’bout a combination  of one or more of the above – what I call the Three Ds- drunk, drugged, deranged?

Recently I had two reminders of this kind of “high” performance: One just a guy freakishly strong for his size- where once again jiujitsu proved its effectiveness as a method of restraint; The other a dude doing spectacular, movie-quality stunts in his supercharged state of desperation.


Think you might be dealing with some of these in a self defense encounter?

That this could be the guy you cut off – or that cut you off and you just had to say something out your rolled-down passenger window?

Or that you yell at to “Back Off!”when all he did was try to bum a smoke?

Or that you said “hey!” too when he stepped on your foot on the bus?

How are you preparing to handle such people? What are you learning? Because many instructors betray a lack of experience when they begin talking about what “works.” When they make it seem like every encounter is “easy,” like a drunken panhandler that can barely stand.

Sure the latter are probably more likely, but is that really what you are training  for?

Over the years I’ve heard teachers, and read posts and blogs say some good things,  only to shake my head when they wax pedagogical on things way outside their lane. And don’t think that former cops and convicts,  bodyguards and bouncers, and “street fighters” are immune….All such claims to fame are prevalent in the personal myth-making (and money making) in the training community.

What people say they know, and how they say it, says a lot about what they don’t know.

I don’t take much for granted, nor do I take certain statements – or certain instructors – very seriously. Even though the rest of the world seem to think they are preaching gospel. You just need to have been around long enough, and seen enough, to get a balanced sense of things.

Double Sleeve Footsweep

…from Travis Stevens:

My thinking on foot sweeps has changed. Once I thought they were quite timing and skill dependent, and so more for a specialist to focus on than for the average practitioner of sele protection.

But frankly they are no more skill dependent than other takedowns, and require less strength and body commitment in the throw as an added bonus. Nor are they more skill- or timing dependent than the ground maneuvers we promote and count on for self defense such as mount and guard escapes or modified spider guard.

So Do the Judo. Adding foot and leg attacks to ones repertoire will pay tremendous dividends in terms of efficient and effective takedowns.

Give Yourself a Hand

Neck Fracture of the Fourth Metacarpal Bone.png

Boxer’s Fracture is a colloquial term for a fracture of one of the metacarpal bones of the hand. Classically, the fracture occurs transversely across the metacarpal neck, after the patient strikes an object with a closed fist. Alternate terms include scrapper’s fracture or bar room fracture. ”  


When I teach striking for self defense and defensive tactics I advise against striking the head with a closed fist, for various reasons related to safety and tactical performance – and in defensive tactics, sometimes the simple optics of the act. I’ve seen too many folks in the aftermath of fights dealing with hand injuries, including officers who punched resisting suspects in the head, to not take the potential for a hand injury lightly.

Outside of that personal experience, a cursory review of available popular information shows that a particular class of fracture of the hand is literally referred to as a “Boxer’s Fracture.”

And  Googling “MMA fighters and broken hands” or “boxers and broken hands,” one notices that even the best trained, most highly skilled professional fighters also occasionally have problems with them – sometimes even when wearing gloves

Things that make you go hmmm….


But thinking on those old-timey  bare knuckle boxers, they  didn’t bust their hands up like this, did they? And their fights could go on for forty or even seventy or more rounds! How could they fight that long, with bare knuckles, and not hurt their hands?

Well, seems they boxed very differently than the sport is conducted today, with a particular array of techniques and approaches to striking .


Bare knuckle boxing is still being conducted, and has even been offered as a potential alternative to gloved boxing due to the inherent danger of hitting people hard and repeatedly in the head when wearing padded hand protection.

What about self defense? In an unarmed scuffle, if you are at all tough, a broken hand will not likely mean that you will be unable to continue fighting, or even prevail in the encounter, so isn’t the point kind of moot?

Well, no. The essential nature of self defense is not, and should never be confused with, mano-a-mano fisticuffs, in either the ring or the street.

Self defense includes so many other elements and potentials that must be taken into account if we are engaging with appropriately integrated and transdisciplinary combatives. An empty hand fight, or resistive arrest could go to weapons at any time, as some change in the nature of the confrontation could necessitate a need for a fighting tool: lethal or less lethal. And while I may be fine continuing to pummel someone’s face with my own mangled hand, I’m not so sure I’d want to be attempting to access a Taser,  or knife, or draw and manipulate a pistol, or attempt to retain my weapon with that self-same damaged hand. Particularly because the very need to deploy such a tool means that the stakes of the confrontation have just gone way up – not to mention the stress that goes with that turn of events.

And now let’s say during this continuing confrontation, I have a weapons’ malfunction. While I may still be able to fire a pistol with a broken hand,  do I really want to be trying to clear, say, a double feed induced from a poor grip, with one?

Even a reload could be problematic…

Going further, should I incur other injuries from the now lethal threat, how will my ability to treat them be impacted by having a broken hand? Self-application of tourniquets and getting them tight enough is tough enough without the additional difficulty induced by a hand injury.

And what if I had to administer aid to another? A friend, or loved one?

Not to mention the issue of blood borne pathogens. One of the marked disconnects in the defensive communities’ understanding of real life confrontations is the need to be concerned for bleeding on the part of an assailant and ourselves. Punching people in the head and face seem to cause more bleeding from both the target and the abraded or split knuckles of the striker. While at times some bleeding may be unavoidable, given the choice to use tactics less likely to result in the rapid introduction of nasty contaminants into an already chaotic and uncontrolled encounter, it would seem the better option.

Mindful of all these things, I’ve reconsidered relying on  techniques that have a recognized propensity for causing hand injuries, even to very experienced fighters when they have been without gloves, and even when some of those fighters are wearing them, in favor of those other options.

2018 Pac Northwest Tactical Conference

If you are a sometime reader here, this is a great opportunity for some training in the Pac NW that is normally quite a bit further away. Several of these trainers I’ve mentioned here and trained with myself. I just signed up, hope to see some of you there!

From the Site:

NW/Pacific Regional Tactical Conference, 2018

We try to keep the Tactical Conference centrally located in the US, so that as many practitioners as possible may attend. That’s why it is usually in Memphis or Little Rock or other central location. There are a number of committed students of The Art in the Pacific Northwest, which is still a really long way from Tennessee or Arkansas. To accommodate them, we will be holding a regional conference at The Firearms Academy of Seattle (FAS) in July 2018. FAS is located between Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon, and is a very nice training facility with numerous ranges and a modern classroom.

The dates are July 27-29, 2018, Friday through Sunday. This will be a smaller event than the national conference, with about 100 attendees, plus staff and trainers. We have an impressive array of trainers presenting two hour and four hour blocks of instruction, including live fire with handgun, shotgun and carbine; classroom instruction on a variety of topics; and hands-on training in empty hands skills and immediate trauma care. The trainers include Tom & Lynn Givens, Massad Ayoob, Marty Hayes, John Holschen, Lee Weems, John Hearne, John Murphy, Gabe White, Tiffany Johnson, Karl Rehn, Cecil Burch, William Aprill, Lori Bigley, Caleb Causey, and Belle McCormack. That’s a total of sixteen well respected trainers presenting instruction over three full days of training! There will also be a defensive pistol match concurrent with the training events. Advance registration is required.