What ‘Works’

 

If you are at all serious about the study of personal defense and combatives, you’ve no doubt noticed that devoted practitioners generally select one of two camps when it comes to cherished notions of What ‘Works:’

The “Used in Battle” camp – which appeals to authority on the idea that the chosen art was used on a traditional battlefield (i.e. Japanese samurai, Chinese bodyguards and caravan guards, Asian tribal warfare, etc.) or by “commandos;” generally from WWII, or nowadays, Russians or Israeli “Special Forces;” Or that the discipline is “reality based” in that it was purpose-designed for “street fights.”

And the Combat Sport camp – their appeal to authority is that since combat sports can be trained at full speed, with full power, and only in this way can real pressure be brought to bear and the true efficacy of a particular skill be measured, and that this is how we know What Works. They tend to look to “high percentage” competition performance for “proof.”

Partisans in the former camp tend to spend a lot of time attacking the ideas of the latter by saying “that sport sh*t” isn’t combat effective because it has “rules,” and training it “will get you killed in the streets.”

Not surprisingly, those in the second camp tend to spend a lot of time criticizing the former as blind to the realities of pressure testing and the necessity of practicing against a true opposing will, and turn the phrase around by mockingly joking that their sport technique will “get them KILT in DA STREETZ.”

This is seriously the level at which many practitioners are operating…Combat Cliche.

My own response to reading or hearing a strong partisan of either camp is that old stand by:

They don’t know what they don’t know.

 

Personally, I’ve always reserved the right to reserve an opinion on What Works:

In terms of control, restraint, and arrest tactics taught by someone that has never controlled, restrained, or arrested anyone; Let alone a lot of people.

What Works in a street fight being taught by someone that has never been in a street fight;

What Works in a shooting, from someone that has never been in, around, or at a shooting. Let alone multiple shootings;

Use of force from someone that has never been an officer: has never had to de-escalate a situation, or escalate one. Or escalate then de-escalate one. Let alone a number of them under different circumstances. Like one of those people that was a cop for like three years,  then “left” for unspecified reasons, and yet devoted their life to things cops do ever since. Always seems odd to me, barring injury rendering one incapable of continuing to serve, why not just stay on the job?

Or the opinions of people who’ve had no involvement in use of force for the last decade or more – like a thirty year cop that spent the last two decades at a desk job, further and further away from the streets.

Oh excuse me.. “Da StreetZ.”

Like a big city Chief lecturing on how to “fix”policing talking about training and de-escalation….something he hasn’t done or used in thirty or forty years.

We humans tend to get better with age, at least in our own minds. I think back to some of the scenes I have been involved in and if I’m honest, I don’t think I was as good as I think I was…

While we are at it, has anyone noticed that while there is a general agreement that the vast majority of police officers and soldiers receive little or no hand-to-hand combatives training, and we can point to generally poor performance from the former and that close combat almost never happens for the latter, we still look to cops and soldiers (or “commandos”) as the litmus test for What Works in close personal defense? It’s more complicated than that, for sure, but that is kind of funny.

Holding such opinions does not endear one to partisans in either camp, or both if one won’t be categorized. Doesn’t work well in a rigidly hierarchal system, whether traditional or modern, when one questions “sensei.”

Or with cults of personality when one has a different opinion than The Personality.

I’ve opted out of more than one group for these very reasons. Chosen not to think what the Group Thinks, and simply looked for What Works, no matter from where it comes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“The Benefit of Jujutsu”

“A westerner once said, “if you combine a robust physical form with a vigorous mind you will end up with a body that is strong and a mind  that is active. Such a person would be able to succeed at any endeavor that they choose to embark on.” The success or failure of a country also depends upon the robustness of its people. Though there are all manner of methods by which one can strengthen the body, there are none that can exceed the benefits of Jujutsu.

This Jujutsu of which I speak contains the essence of the military techniques, the martial arts of Japan. Through the techniques of Jujutsu one can craft a body that is strong and healthy while the mind is conditioned to remain tranquil. Should an incident occur let there be no doubt that you will be able to control the unexpected both deftly and nimbly. There are two precepts within Jujutsu that can be of great benefit. The first corrects the fundamental character of a person’s physical form. Then thru Jujutsu that person will be able to topple larger and stronger foes easily and fluidly. Another aspect is making use of the eight Kentai, or strikes with the body and the long and short sword, and striking the six Kyosho, or vital points of the body, to easily subdue and tie up a stronger opponent. It is for this very reason that I once again state that you should endeavor to strengthen your body.

In addition, those employed as police officers often must make use of these techniques when subduing gangs of lawless ruffians and binding them with cord. In the past training in and study of Jujutsu was of upmost importance to such persons…”

 

The above is from the introduction to Eric Shahan’s translation of Tetsutaro Hisatomi’s Kenpo Zukai, also titled “The Police Officer’s Essential Illustrated Guide to Kenpo,” originally published in January 1888.  It’s a fascinating book.

 

 

Installing Situational Awareness

Marcus Wynne has posted another piece on situational awareness at his blog, Random Thoughts: A Mindful Miscellany, where he defines it and approaches the concept of installing it in trainees.

Were I to be asked what is most lacking in the tactical training community, I would say it rests squarely in the realm of defining, understanding, and working with a full spectrum situational awareness. Instead, we get distracted with too great an emphasis on combat sport, or too much of an antipathy towards it in favor of what is called “reality based” training.

But I guess if we don’t have that part squared away, it’s hard to move on to the next level.

Here’s to next level training. Check it out.

 

Congratulations!

 

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It is a great pleasure to announce here that Mike Selin, dojocho of the School of Budo and my primary training partner in jiujitsu and Adaptive Interdisciplinary tactical studies, received his black belt in Brazilian jiujitsu today!

This is a remarkable achievement and is testament to Mike’s focus and discipline in pursuing his training. He is now one of the few people out there with black belts in Judo, Aikido, and Brazilian Jiujitsu, and is an avid practitioner of classical Japanese martial traditions and modern personal defense.

 

Covert Contact Podcast

My buddy J. sent me this podcast from Covert Contact, where former CIA case officer Patrick Skinner is interviewed regarding his switch – at age 46 – from working CIA counter-terrorism cases to working the beat as a rookie cop.

Case Officer to Rookie Cop

The observations on “action bias,” on the applicability of the skillsets honed in his old work to his new job (and vice versa), and his views on the daily job are fascinating.

This is exactly the attitude police reformers are seeking, though heaven forbid we began recruiting former CIA investigators to work the streets of the USA; the hue and cry would be deafening, even though the practical reality is exactly the kind of tweaks we need to be implementing:  Compassion, and an appreciation that bad luck and bad decision making or poor substance abuse management does not equate to evil. Discretion in most enforcement decisions. That 80% of the calls he goes to as reported as crimes, though no crime occurred, and no, nobody needs to go to jail…

…and that yes, some of the people police deal with are purely evil and are de facto terrorists in their communities.