06 March 2017

Stick vs Knife

On a forum someone asked about a stick vs a knife-

 Here are my thoughts-

I am only going to talk about "stick". While training with Nick Hughes, I first became aware that all other things being equal, a man with a stick has a distinct advantage over a knife, if he realizes it. Most won't and will be overwhelmed by the sight of the blade.

 Edged weapons seek bone, and impact weapons seek flesh. Regardless of whatever offensive prowess one may believe they have achieved in a clinical training environment, once pushed back or back peddling the arms come out to the side for balance. This primal response will override your "knife fighting" skills and you will swing wildly attempting to stay on your feet and hit whatever part of your attacker you can. You will be flailing outside of your silhouette as well as your attacker's

From the outside in, there are anatomically more opportunities to strike bones such as the head, clavicle, elbow, wrist and fingers, knees, shins, and ankles. The same area slashed with a blade will have little immediate effect, that is what spawned Inverted Edge Tactics. During the folder into the fight drill, trained "knife fighters" once moving backwards during their defense did not stab as they said they had been trained to do. They slashed and the vast majority of cuts were across my chest and upper arms. These areas are covered with muscle by design. The body is well protected from the outside against laceration of vital targets. We don't use the stick against the muscles or hope to hit nerves. We hit the areas at the outside junctions where the bones are exposed. We use the blade on the inside. This requires you to get into the inside of your attacker fast.
Always a fan of the expandable baton for work, but I am not a cop anymore. Now it is a walking stick next to my car seat, and a tennis racket and ball on the passenger side floor board that I use to play with my dog. Can you imagine getting hit in the face with a tennis racket? How about the side of it across your face? Some rambling thoughts. Just my $.02.

05 March 2017

Thoughts on one and two fingered knuckles

Posted by a fellow formite-  I don't want to disparage anyone who is selling the one or two finger knuckle devices but I'm thinking it would hurt almost as bad to hit someone as it would be to be hit with one.  Wouldn't it break the users finger?  Has anyone ever used one?

You are correct sir.  You are about as likely to have the time and opportunity to use one of these things to jab someone in the face as you are to cut/or stab someone with the knife you carry.

Let's start with anatomy and physiology.  In MCS, we teach people to avoid striking with a closed fist unless it is a hammer fist.  MCS Instructor Richard the Great is not only a fan of boxing, but is also an instructor.  Even with instruction,  wraps, and gloves, fractures still occur.  When someone asks about punching with a closed fist, he just laughs after 12 years as a professional bouncer up and down the east coast.  A major principle of MCS is to do as little damage to your body while damaging your attacker's.  This is based on best practices, and one of them is not striking with a closed fist.  Did I say no striking with a closed fist?

In this article, I discuss how to wear a set of traditional knuckles correctly, and how to use them. There is a reason why they call them knuckle dusters.  Police and bad guys alike in the old days were able to experiment and measure how much force to use in striking a part of the body.  Dusting is done in a circular swinging motion, not a jab.  Jabs have too high a likelihood of permanently injuring or killing someone.  Whether cop or crook, a strain of permanently injured, maimed, or dead people at your hands can be hard on a career.  There is no ability to use dusting with one and two fingered knucks.  Yes, the small surface area will increase the concentration of force and increase trauma. Quite possibly much more trauma than was justified.  They will also cause a great deal of damage to your hand, causing immediate swelling, effectively taking that hand out of the fight.

 There are four parts to adding a tool to the arsenal; selection, carry, deployment, and use.  These things are selected because they are cool more than anything else, they are usually carried in a pocket, eeemmm, the how and when of deployment is the rub, as it is with ALL weapons.  Its only real use would be offensive.  You would have to be aware of a potential threat and decide to deploy it.  Here is where laws come into play.  Will you hesitate to even deploy it for self-defense for fear of being charged with possession/use of a prohibited weapon?  Use, if you do have it out, or manage to get it out and into use, you are severely limited in strikes and targets.  Most of the time it is going to have to be a jab into the head.

Regardless of what they may think from behind the comfort and safety of a keyboard, very few people would have the stones to hit someone with any sort of a knuck.  The primary reason is sort of what I teach to police officers.  There are many who will struggle with you so they can run away, then there are another very scary few who will kill you so they can walk away.  Using a knuck is a taboo, and so is using a knife.  You need to know if your mind can accept that after you use a weapon, your life and that of someone else's may likely never be the same.  This will be going on in your head during the altercation.  They are called intrusive thoughts and happen during tachypsychia (the distortion of time) that occurs under combat stress.

Through training I do my best to remove this hurdle for students by having a foundation of violent, effective open hand combatives.  You always have your natural weapons, tools are a luxury.  The world is filled with sunlight and we walk around with a flashlight in our pocket.  Few realize how fast it can get dark and train to deploy that flashlight fast and in a hurry.  Automatically going for a tool can be problematic.  First, it takes your primary hand away from your defense, and secondly the chances of drawing the right tool to deal with the situation based on little to know information can have you choosing the wrong tool, or just freezing.  See Hicks Law.

Now, I teach mostly citizens.  They do not have a bat belt to draw from.  Most are not paid to put hands on people for a living.  After open hands, we prioritize the use of the pen, when the lights are on, and the flashlight when they are off.  You can carry both of them in your hands in the most secure environments.  This removes the need for deployment, although we of course teach it.  There are fancy things you can teach, but our go to is forward movement and hammer fisting into the attacker's face violently until they stop, allowing you to get away.  There is no hurdle to get over.  You have a common, everyday, legal item in your hand.  When someone gets inside your space and / or refuses to obey verbal commands, you are justified to defend yourself and do not hesitate to do so because you were trained to do so.  If they are outside your reach with a knife or gun, good.  They need to be close to cut and they have not shot you yet.

Back to knuckles, especially the two finger versions.  If you are attacked and have them on your hand, it is damn near impossible to throw an effective jab while back peddling. Hammer fists are natural and made more effective with a pen/light.

So why do people make em and why do we buy em?  Because they are fn cool, that's why.  I have several and will end up with more.  I also have an M4, but is easier to carry my 38 snub nose.- George

24 February 2017

Flint Windshield Wiper Video & Self-Defense for Women

One of our most popular courses around the country and locally at our school York PA is Women's Only Self-Defense.  The recent viral video about the experiences of one young lady in Flint Michigan sheds some light on the difference between what "self-defense" means to women vs men.

Our school in York PA is located inside Fitness 1440.  There are huge guys that lift there.  They must be content with their belief that they will never be the victim of an attack based on their size, appearance, and athleticism, and you know what, they are right.  Men are usually the attackers of other men and women.  Predators look for those who appear old, young, injured, weak, or mostly just distracted.  It is easier for a man to bluff another man into leaving him alone or submission during a confrontation.  Face it men are much less likely to be the victim of a sexual assault or to be abducted by another man.  It is women who are most often the victims of sexual assault and/or abduction.  Adult men are not worth much when it comes to human trafficking.  Once abducted and moved south across the boarder a woman is not very likely to be heard from again.

When men do turn up for classes they are usually much more familiar with violent physical (non-abusive) contact.  The reason is that boys from an early age wrestle and roughhouse, often to the point of bloody lips, noses, broken bones, and even being knocked out.  Then they grow up and become involved in contact sports like wrestling and football, again more violent contact.  From there they are likely to pursue a martial art.  By adulthood even the meekest of boys have been knocked around a little bit buy other males and therefor at least partially inoculated to the stresses of interpersonal combat.

More so than men, the ladies who show up at classes have a story to tell, it is a story of abusive violence that manifest in three primary ways.

1)  They were mentally, physically, verbally, and sexually abused as a child by a man they should have been able to trust.  This has left them with a fear towards men.

2)  They have been or are currently involved in a abusive relationship with a man, and it is usually not their first.  This very often stems from #1.

3)  They have been the victim of a violent criminal attack.

Just in the last two classes I can share with you these two stories-

"Pam" was violently attacked in York PA while she was 21.  She was beaten so bad that her family did not recognize her at the hospital.   She was his 9th victim and she testified against him.  However he was found not guilty on a technicality.  Now middle aged she is still attempting to come to terms with it and has decided to seek reality based training.

"Kristen"  with her young daughter in her car was attacked on a backstreet of a very small town here locally.  A man became angry after a traffic disagreement.  She was stopped at a red light behind another car, when he exited his truck, walked up to her open window, it was hot and she had no AC, and punched her once in the face before walking back to his vehicle and driving away, around her when the light changed.  She was almost knocked unconscious.  No one stopped to help her or even called the assault into police.

When it comes to self-defense women have different needs than men do.  Women prefer Awareness, and Avoidance over Aggression.  The aggression we teach them is not based on size, strength, or speed.  The reasoning being that for most, if they have it, it is only for a period of their life.  Not when they are very young, or older.  And on the way to being older disease and injury occur, and that has to be taken into consideration.  Also seldom taken into consideration is the differences between the way a man attacks another man and the way he will attack a women.  When men attack men they often do so with the intention of injuring them and/or taking something from them.  The goal with women is typically sexual assault.  They will break contact with the man to get away, but with the woman they are going to spend time at the location of the incident or move her to another place to spend more time with her there, at the second location they are usually murdered.

In both cases above the women were both attacked from behind and in disadvantaged positions.  Predators don't attack even what what they deem "easy pray" head on.  They want to use the least amount of effort necessary.  Go into your local Mcdojo, especially during your introductory class and ask them how to protect yourself if attacked behind the wheel of your car or attacked from behind by a large aggressive man.  If they tell you anything it will be about a physical response, not about being aware of and avoiding that situation.   Guys want the physical stuff, women who have already been victimized want to know how to avoid it happening again, and if that fails some simple techniques that will give them time to get away.

I don't know about you but I don't want my wife or daughters training to be cage fighters.  I want them to be able to mindfully process their intuition so that they learn to recognize their options in worst case scenarios instead of shutting down.  When they become aware of something that could potentially put them in danger I want them to make a habit removing themselves from the situation.  Of course if all else fail they need hard skills that I know will work against someone my size and intensity, not things like pepper spray and wrist locks.  There is a reason while it is called reality based training, but often I am left shaking my head as to whose reality is it, the instructors or the students.

At present  I have two options for ladies to learn more.

If you are not located around York PA, my Personal Protection for Women book on Kindle is an inexpensive way to begin or further your self-defense education.  If you are local to us.  Women's Self Defense is the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of every month from 7-8.  We are also happy to bring our training to you.  Feel free to contact by e-mail or call 717-693-2085.


Limited Time Offer- mercharnesses are buy one get one free

For a limited time only, mercharnesses are buy one get one free.  So if you buy a single you get 2.  Buy a 3 pack and you get six.  Just write "special offer" in the comment section of your order.

23 February 2017

Onetigris Military Patrol Dog Harness

Even though my daughter bought my boy Odin when he was three days old, it did not stop me from shopping for him over the next 8 weeks until we picked him up.  One of the things I looked long and hard at was a vest for him.  Even though there is no requirement to have a service dog identified by a vest, collar, or otherwise, it makes life a lot easier when they are.

Even though Odin is a working dog, he is not searching warehouses on a midnight shift or fast roping off the Space Shuttle with SEAL Team 6.  As a matter of fact, I don't need to attach his leash to the harness or typically even use the handle on the vest because we train like crazy and at 6 months old he is doing very well.  I wanted something that was made well that had a bunch of Velcro on it for pimping out with patches from identifier panels and morale patches.  The Onetigris Military Patrol Dog Harness has the most Velcro that I could find, and interestingly enough, the Velcro is also on the MOLLE webbing so that you can choose to put patches over it, put MOLLE pouches on it, or place Velcro backed pouches on it.  I thought that was pretty cool.

The "yoke" of the vest.  I used a few of my wife's
hair bands to manage the webbing for a neater look.

At the price point I have to admit that I was expecting something cheap but hoping for something inexpensive.  I was actually quite flabbergasted when it arrived when I saw the quality of the vest.  My first impressions were that the good materials such as fabric, hardware, and thread were fashioned into a fine piece of thought out gear with good sewing and attention to detail.  Onetigris may be in China, and having only this vest to judge them by, it is better than some of the Made in the USA gear I have come across.

Odin at 4 months
Odin is now 6.5 months and 60 lbs.  He grew into the size large vest adjusted to its smallest adjustment about 8 weeks ago.  It has tons of strap left and he will be able to wear it when he is full grown at about 80-90 lbs.  He is an Olde English Bulldogge and has a huge chest.  This is one of the features I like most about this vest.  It features a "yoke" that runs all the way under the dog instead of three unconnected straps like some vests.  I also like that this features a Velcro patch that I have used for a bright orange Service Dog ID.

As a service dog, Odin is on the go more than a pet.  On average a dog sleeps 80% of the day.  This is not the case for a service dog.  He is always on the move and wears the vest most of the day.

Like I said earlier, I cannot speak for the strength of the leash attachment or handle, but I would not hesitate to trust them based on the quality of the vest.  This is my first piece of gear from Onetigris but I will be checking them out more.

So, if you have a service dog or just want your dog to be tacked out because face it....its cool,  consider checking the Military Patrol Harness.

13 January 2017

Interacting with the police after a use of force incident

For many of us, our interaction with law enforcement is during a traffic stop or after being involved in a traffic accident.  Even though I am retired law enforcement, in spite of what some would have you believe, I do not automatically get a pass on anything that I do.  Just like anyone else, my heart beats a mile a minute when I see the lights in my rear-view mirror.  People that have followed my work know that I am an outspoken critic of how agencies select, hire, and train their officers.  Just as with any other service provider, some are good and some are bad.  The difference here is that the person you are having contact with is wearing a gun and views everyone they come in contact with as a threat to them, and that is a survival habit I agree with.  The focus of this article is to give you some insights as to how to deal with the police after being involved in a critical incident.  This information is based on almost 20 years in law enforcement and 40 years of dealing with humans in all sorts of different circumstances.  First we will discuss interaction with the police in the aftermath of any critical incident, and then specifics in reference to situations in which you used deadly force.  

Police officers, especially those working uniformed patrol, see the world through a different lens than others when they are working.  Every “call” or “job” for them is like it is for anyone else, something to be completed so they can move on to the next one.  The motivated spend this time on self-initiated contacts in the way of traffic and pedestrian stops in targeted areas.  The unmotivated go back to a mental slumber waiting for the end of their shift hoping that they don’t get another call or that if they do someone else will be close and handle it.  I realize this is much generalized, but in my experience it is the truth.  Both the motivated and unmotivated hate to be disturbed from what they are trying to accomplish.

When you start your career in law enforcement, you have this notion that you will be protecting good from evil.  Before long, that turns into the realization that you are usually stuck in the middle between two pieces of shit over a matter that your common sense will not allow you to process.  Good officers know all the colorful personalities of the people that frequent the areas in which they patrol.  Situations between these types are often more of a management issue than a law enforcement issue.

If you are reading this, there is an excellent chance that you believe that your well being is your responsibility and nobody else’s.  This train of thought also says that you don’t routinely put yourself into a position where stupid people, things, and places can negatively affect your life.  You are not the type of person officers are used to dealing with.  As a matter of fact, you might as well be from a different planet.  People who routinely make a habit of calling the police often use 911 like a little kid yells “Mom” when something does not go their way.  They don’t have any coping or interpersonal communication skills and need the “state” in the form of the police to deal with every little problem.  When you see this play out dozens of times a day, upon arrival to a call you automatically decide what they did to create the situation because it is usually very evident.  Alcohol and drugs are often involved, but even more than that is people who cannot get along but refuse to stay away from each other.

Some people, both police and citizens, may have issues with my thoughts, but as I said, they are my thoughts.  My goal here is to provide you with some perspective in reference to the officers, or officers that are going to respond if you are involved in an incident.

Time and time again in classes I have said that if you have to use any kind of physical force what so ever, you need to be the first person to call 911.  I know that to many this may seem to be a “bitch move,” but the problem is that every piece of shit thinks he is a good guy.  Sure you might have punched a drunk, but the problem is that maybe that drunk’s old man has money and you damaged his teeth.  He gets home and all of a sudden his family has him calling 911 to report an assault.  Through a license plate or witness he is able to identify you.  Because his teeth were damaged, he is able to get a warrant for 1st degree assault.  When the police serve the warrant, you try to tell them how you were attacked and just defending yourself.  One of the first questions out of their mouth, as has often been mine, is “do you have a cell phone?”   You say, “Yes.”  The next question is, “Why did you not call the police?”  Regardless of your feelings about the scenario, it plays out time and time again.  You have to protect yourself all the way around.

Upon the arrival of the police, let them know you are the “victim” and don’t act like a “complainant”.  The root word of complainant is complain, and nobody likes a complainer.  Say, for instance, you were at a gas station where a guy was begging for money.  You were outside your car pumping gas when he approached.  After you refused to give him money, he became agitated and moved towards you.  In reaction to this, you told him to get back.  When he failed to do so, you pushed him and he busted his ass.  Here is an example of what I would say to the officer.

“Hello officer, I am the one that called.  My name is Jim Jones and I was here getting gas when this guy walked up who was pan handling.  When I refused to give him money, he got agitated and came towards me.  There was nowhere for me to go because I was up against my car, so I pushed him and he fell backwards.  Then he got up and ran off.  As far as I know he is not injured and neither am I.   I am not interested in pressing charges.  I just wanted to report it in case he showed up at a hospital or called 911 or something.  Can I just have the incident report or case number?”   

  “Whatever you guys use.”
In those few words you-
Identified yourself
Told him the reason for the call
Explained what happened
Showed why you were forced to act
Showed that you are only looking to protect yourself
Let him know that nobody was injured
Gave the officer the option as to whether or not to write a report
By asking for the incident / complaint number you show that you are informed 

Of course this is generalized, but it allows you to get your needs met without launching a federal investigation.  Most places would call this call “Police Information”.  If something does come from it, you simply call the police department and reference the number given.  Every time the police receive a call for service it is assigned a number, no matter what the call is.  

Next, let’s talk about dealing with the police after using deadly force.  First things first, there is a way to protect yourself without being a total asshole to the responding officers.  I have seen over and over internet commandos and lawyers telling you not to say anything and just hand them your ID, or something along those lines.  That may sound good in writing, but here is the deal.

As previously stated, you are not a special snowflake to the officers.  You are a job.  It may be your first shooting, but certainly not theirs.  They are used to shooters acting like assholes and refusing to give any information to them at all.  Good guys in white hats shooting bad guys in black hats are a fantasy.  Most police officers will never handle a shooting that involves a citizen exercising their rights by protecting themselves against a criminal.  It is usually one piece of shit shooting another piece of shit.

I always laugh when I hear people tell others not to say anything.  The reason I brought up the interaction between most citizens and police being in reference to motor vehicle accidents is to illustrate the phenomenon of excited utterances, better known as diarrhea of the mouth.  When we are kids and something gets broken and the whole “don’t tell Mom” response kicks in, knowing that we will have to give our side of the story, we start automatically fabricating it in our head to put us in the best light.  This is why people rush up to responding officers at a car accident.  They want to give their side of the story first and put them in the same light.  Car accidents, which are critical incidents even if only property damage, are hard for our minds to process.  One of the tools for processing is talking it out, both to ourselves and anyone who will listen.

In the case of a self-defense shooting, upon the arrival of police they automatically trying to figure out what happened so they can move onto the next case.  They have no responsibility to Mirandize you unless they are questioning you about a specific crime.  If all of a sudden you start telling the officer in detail what happened, a good officer will stop you and Mirandize you.  If this does not happen, your words could be used against you later.  After using deadly force, there is an excellent chance that you will not feel well.  During the event, you may have pissed or shit your pants.  Afterwards, with no blood in your belly for digesting food, you may puke.  Using our previous gas station, here is an example of what to say-
“Can you please call me an ambulance?  I don’t feel well and am having chest pains.  I was getting gas, and he walked up.  When I refused to give him money, I saw him pulling a gun from his waistband.  I drew my gun and just fired.  My gun is locked in the trunk of my car.  I know you need it.  Can you please check on that ambulance?”

What have you accomplished in those few sentences?
You don’t feel well and are having chest pains
You need an ambulance
He approached you
You used verbal commands
He attempted to draw a pistol on you
You drew your own gun and fired in response to his
My gun is secure and of no danger to anyone
I understand procedure and am cooperating without giving up my rights
You are really not feeling well

Having chest pains under any circumstances is a guaranteed trip to the hospital.  On the ambulance, they are going to ask you for information such as your name, date of birth, etc.  The police will get that from them instead of you, meaning that you have less interaction with the police.  Even if they put an officer on the ambulance, you will only have to deal with one in a clean, lit, safe place, instead of many, on a dark street, in the back of a police car.  If the officer begins to question you about the scenario, politely tell him that you would like to speak to an attorney first and really don’t feel well.  Separating yourself from the situation is the best way to avoid saying things you will regret later.

Medical staff will routinely ask you what happened.  Be aware that what you say to them can be subpoenaed later on.  There are only three people who cannot be compelled to testify and they are:  your spouse, your attorney, and clergy.  Keep in mind that your phone records will likely be subpoenaed, so watch who you call and what you say.

Nothing offered above should be constituted as legal advice, and is not offered as such.  It is to prompt dissuasion in reference to interaction between citizens and police during chaotic and rapidly evolving situations.   As with all training ideas, in reference to these things should be measured on a sliding scale from fantasy to reality.  It is up to the individual person what should be dismissed and what should be put into practice.

05 January 2017

Wisdom for the aging combatant

Whenever we are teaching a course that involves physical self-defense we first cover use of force.  I give examples based on those in attendance.  For example I might point out how a smaller woman in the class could be justified using a higher level of force against a male attacker than I would.  The primary reasons being a woman against a man and smaller vs bigger, two things that the courts will take into consideration.

However my favorite to talk about is "able vs disabled" because it more than many other factor can change in a second.  I start by asking what makes a person in a wheelchair disabled?  Obviously it is the fact that they can't stand or walk.  For example, if during an altercation if you fall backwards or are pushed backwards resulting in smashing your tailbone on concrete concrete causing temporary paralysis, how would that change things?  What if you are not injured from the fall but the attacker follows you to the ground and continues the assault.  This is what happened to George Zimmerman after he made several other mistakes we will not dig into here.

Then we talk about how this plays into our individual Personal Protection Plans, nobody has the same one, because we all have our own abilities, needs, and weapon preferences based on needs and laws.  Over the last several months I have thrown my back out three times.  The first time it was getting off a leg machine at the gym, then playing tug of war with my bulldogge, and two days ago twisting to get off a decline bench.  It is central nervous system issue that causes immediate pain and loss of range of motion.  After a visit to the chiropractor yesterday and a good nights sleep I feel much better, but if someone had physically attacked me yesterday around 4 PM I would have used a much higher level of force faster than usual.  This is because I was in severe pain, could not stand all the way up, and very well may have not been able to get up if I was knocked to or simply fell to the ground.  Today, felling better I would have dialed it back to baseline, but still keeping in mind that any twisting motion could aggravate my preexisting injury, and that going the ground is still not an option.  Again, if I end up on the ground and the attacker follows be there I would be able to justify a higher level of force.

Earlier I spoke about part of your PPP (Personal Protection Program) being weapons.  What if you do end up on the ground with someone on top of you and you feel you are justified to shoot or stab them, but they happen to be high up on your chest, physically covering your gun, or another weapon with their knees.  Do you have a mechanical force option above your waist or the mindset to and training to use open hand skills to survive?

Over the years I have written  a few articles while staying off the ground and doing damage as fast as possible to get up from there are a huge part of MCS.  Years ago these were not personal reasons but now some are.  I am by nature and  training in Judo and traditional Ju Jitsu a grappler.  Due to a lifetime of lifting, sports, martial arts, service, and putting my hands on people for a living, my model year is not that old, but lots of off road miles have taken their toll.

No matter your pursuit, the key is longevity and sustainability.  My social media demographics tell me that the majority of MCS fans, supporters, readers, and students are 35-45 year old men.  This makes sense since MCS has absolutely no flash, belts, trophies, or uniforms.  At my age (44) I am only interested in things that work for my application.  I am not interested in training for several hours a week making a pile of once fired brass or rolling around on the floor trying to get another guy to tap out.  I need to believe that everything I spend my time training on will work in the worst situations, and MCS does.  I still test it as a bouncer.  Instead I prefer to spend my free time loving on my wife and kids, riding my Harley, playing with my Bulldogge, and enjoying fine cigars and whiskey.

Please don't think that I am discounting traditional martial arts training.  Just understand that the originally the arts of a warrior who's job was war.  Now we have to go to work the next day and training has be watered down to achieve that.  Understand that if you can practice something for hours and hours on end in the dojo or on the mat without injury, don't expect it to stop a human in the street. For those of you still training and teaching the old ways, good on you. You will fight the way you train.  I wish this wisdom had occurred to me 20 less painful years ago.  Stay Safe- George