Dalai Lama on Guns


“If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.”

– the Dalai Lama, Portland OR, May 2001


Boyd’s Be or Do


In teaching others, especially the trainees I sometimes share a car with, I consistently revisit this from John Boyd, as it is applicable to law enforcement as in the military.

Here following biographer Robert Coram and as quoted at Art of Manliness..

Boyd said (emphasis mine):

“one day you will come to a fork in the road…

And you’re going to have to make a decision about which direction you want to go..If you go that way you can be somebody. You will have to make compromises and you will have to turn your back on your friends. But you will be a member of the club and you will get promoted and you will get good assignments.

Or you can go that way and you can do something – something for your country and for your Air Force and for yourself. If you decide you want to do something, you may not get promoted and you may not get the good assignments and you certainly will not be a favorite of your superiors. But you won’t have to compromise yourself. You will be true to your friends and to yourself. And your work might make a difference. To be somebody or to do someting. In life there is often a roll call. That’s when you will have to make a decision.

To Be or to Do?

Which way will you go?”

Recently I had the pleasure of training with a man who exemplified this. As he told his story, I reflected on an experience of mine that was similar, but his – and his decision – was more final, asking more of him than what mine did of me.

These are the people I consider leaders. Rank has nothing to do with leadership – it may require deference, but it cannot command respect. What you do – consistently, over many years and under repeated tests – defines who you are far more than any position or promotion.

“Save the Life You Can, When You Can”


I’m indebted to Deputy Chief Kyle Sumpter for inspiring some of the formative concepts of this piece…

When we discuss the concept of Warriorship or Warrior Mindset in the law enforcement context we must begin with the Priority of Life. In short, this idea – codified and practiced in formal training – places the life of the responding officer beneath the lives of citizens and hostages in any situation where there is an imminent threat to life. The life of the officer is in turn held in higher regard than that of a violent suspect threatening the lives of others.

This is at the core the reason warriorship must be inculcated in law enforcement officers, and not just tactical officers. When an active threat (active shooter). hostage taking. or immediate threat-to-life situation occurs, it is the first responding officers who run to the problem, and are best positioned to deal with it as necessary. The time to be considering one’s own mortality, or second guessing  deadly force response decisions from the point of view of fear of administrative sanction or public opinion is not in the face of a murderous act in the moment it is happening. They must be analyzed, devloped, inculcated, and practiced as core values before they happen in real time.

Unfortunately, perhaps more so now that at any time in the recent past, elements within law enforcement management have lost sight of this view: that the primary role of LE is being prepared for going into harm’s way to protect others. Unable to articulate the tenets of proper warriorship in the face of political and public pressure, many executives have  instead chosen to acquiesce to a skewed narrative and embraced a misconstrued philosophy that tells cops NOT to be warriors.

This is unworkable and impractical. It is inconsistent in concept and application with the Priority of Life, and can breed only one thing for the responding officer: hesitation.

Under circumstances of imminent or immediate threat, time does not take sides; no problem will solve itself if only given more time. Some problems get far worse. Too often simply waiting and talking is nothing but hesitating and gambling with the lives of citizens, hostages, and officers in the hope that “things will turn out okay.” This is in direct conflict with the Priority of Life, and places the life of the suspect in higher regard than that of officers or victims.

That it frequently does turn out in the end does not make it a morally or tactically defensible approach. This is where the fundamental misunderstanding lies.

Because when it doesn’t, that life allowed to hang in the balance could be lost. And though not averse to risking my life, I prefer to be the one making the wager with my own rather than someone else.

One wonders how all of this could have been so easily forgotten. It partly lies in lack of experience: most police executives end up with little time “on the road,” and research has shown that as humans we often forget where we have come from while at the same time remember ourselves as better than we actually were. When those proclaiming new philosophies as workable have been retired for some time, and before that spent more than twenty five years of thirty in administrative careers, perhaps its not a wonder after all.

Warriorship is honed through being there, doing that, and learning from experience.

So, yeah….Not a wonder after all.





Combative vs. Competitive Jujitsu

Grounded vs standing

As competition (sport) jujitsu has increasingly overshadowed the art’s self-defense roots, there has been discussion within the Brazilian jiujitsu (BJJ) community about getting back to self defense. It is a testament to the flexibility and adaptability of the fundamental concept of “ju” () that there even is such a discussion; and that there is room for so many different expressions of the art – even within BJJ.

There are, however, key differences between using jujitsu for defensive or tactical applications – handling violent assailants under uncontrolled circumstances (i.e. “the street”) – and when using it in controlled, technically regulated matches. These start with the ways in which we fundamentally think about the tactics and technical choices we make.

For example:

Q: What percentage of total practice is conducted standing up?

A: If the answer is that standing practice is anything less than 50% of the total aggregate, you are not approaching jujitsu with a tactical – or practical – mindset.

And yes, practicing this way is altering how the body is wired for combative action, to equate fighting with willingly going to,  and remaining on the ground, as the default.

You fight the way you train.

Q: When practicing throws, how often do you go to the ground with or before your opponent, rather than staying on your feet?

A: Staying on your feet should be a prime motivation in throwing. You stay standing, they go down.

I know, I know, especially with skilled opponents this might not happen much, but you should be practicing with the view that you stay up, the opponent goes down, and then you choose your next move: create space and disengage, top control immediately from the throw, or standing pass to top control.

Wait – we’re talking jujitsu, not Judo, right?

Yes. Because both are Basically Just Jujitsu…

Q: Do you believe that pins “do not count in real fighting,” or that they are inconsequential to a self defense or combative encounter?

A:  This is not only a competition mindset, it’s rules-specific. Some grappling arts allow pins as winning or scoring techniques.

Pins very much do matter in actual combatives. If I got pinned in a match for ten or twenty minutes, with little or no freedom of movement, and then somehow in the end squeaked out a lucky submission, I’d consider that a loss, or at best a draw.

Someone dominating my movement in a situation where they can strike me at will, access a weapon, or use the environment against me (pounding my head onto the concrete), or have their friends come and help, will not be solved by my waiting for them to get tired or for me to get lucky.

Q: Are submissions a better indicator of combative effectiveness? Are submission-only tournaments more “realistic?”

A: Another rules-specific competition mindset.* (see note) In fact, it is entirely feasible, and in many cases more practical and more tactically sound, to practice a combative approach to jujitsu with no submissions at all.

Many limb-submissions may matter little in actual combatives – where opponents may have levels of motivation and pain tolerance far surpassing normal due to drugs or derangement.

Others limit our ability to escape or respond to sudden changes because the limbs and focus are tied up with the opponent.

Sometimes this will be situation-specific (I know of a fight ended with a foot lock -from standing – for instance, and I have personally done so with arm locks, but only because the offender gave up mentally and/or physically), and a fast strangle that does not tie up with an attacker can be golden in an real situation.

But by and large if you are hunting for arm bars or clothing strangles while on your back, or taking the back, getting hooks in, and going for a rear naked choke, you are playing jujitsu versus fighting with jujitsu.

Not all that fun to watch from a competitive standpoint. Submission-only jujitsu showcases one thing well – skill at submissions, which is important for the art and sport of jujitsu, but less so for a comprehensive approach to combatives.


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Positional Dominance 

An important concept in competitive grappling, the idea of Positional Dominance, has been adopted into the tactical lexicon by some instructors. Unfortunately this glosses important differences between what are advisable positions in a tactical or defensive situation and what works under academy or competitive conditions.

To differentiate I prefer the term Position of Advantage…I’ll call it P of A.

P of A, as I see it,  includes commonly accepted Dominant Positions, yet excludes others. Not all dominant positions are positions of advantage, and not all positions of advantage are dominant positions. In some cases the crossover is direct. In others, more tactically advisable positions are not the same as those predicated on a “finish” in competition. In these latter cases, P of A may not be equated with Positional Dominance.

Position of Advantage is found in retaining initiative and mobility, that is, the ability to maneuver free of the opponent.

Positional advantage therefore is often transient and rapidly changing, and rather than tying up and vying for superiority based on a submission – P of A may simply be frustrating an adversary’s efforts by refusing to engage in a standard way, which he is unable to control.

Take for example, the clinch in boxing. Clinching is known as a tool to limit the damage a superior boxer can do, and limit their ability to move and strike freely. It is regulated in boxing and fighters are separated when it happens.

Similarly, in grappling, continuously refusing to grip and preventing an opponent from coming to grips, or, in ground fighting continuously disengaging and backing away to make the other fighter stand up, or holding a position and “doing nothing,”  is regulated.

Similarly, it is not customary to train boxing specializing in clinching to avoid ….boxing. Or in grappling to avoid actually coming to grips and thus…grappling. It’s considered “stalling,” and worse. This “negative ” approach would likely considered unsportsman-like in a boxing gym, judo dojo or jujitsu academy.  It is regulated by the rules and frowned up because it prevents skilled people from actually using their skills.

Turn that on it’s head, and think of it from a defensive perspective. Things that make you go hmmmm…..


Notes –

*There is a notion that rules somehow don’t matter, or are inconsequential, when it comes to pass that there are no rules, and that someone that cannot be beaten under a set of rules is therefore not able to be defeated under others, or when there are no rules.

Think about that for a minute.

Modern jujitsu’s history provides the best example of this not being the case with the torturous demands over rules in challenge matches in the early days – when it was then simply an offshoot of Kodokan Judo. Robert Drysdale addressed this in a recent article that I blogged about here.


The Wild Boar and the Fox


 The Wild Boar and the Fox 

  A WILD BOAR stood under a tree and rubbed his tusks against the
trunk.  A Fox passing by asked him why he thus sharpened his
teeth when there was no danger threatening from either huntsman
or hound.  He replied, "I do it advisedly; for it would never do
to have to sharpen my weapons just at the time I ought to be
using them."