31 July 2015

Fit to fight...the body vs the mind

The other day a friend of mine posted something asking people to define what “fit to fight” meant to them.  I read the various responses and then would try to guess the age of the person posting it.  It’s funny how the young hard charging barrel chested freedom fighters assume they will always be to quote Toby Keith “as good as I once was."  One fella defined it as fit to deploy.

Though I realize from interaction with MCS followers that some fans are active duty military and police, more and more they are just plain Joe Citizen.  In addition to that, the average MCS follower is 35-45 years old. 

What these demographics tell me is that there is a good chance you have been at your chosen profession for a few years, likely married, and have a few kids.  There is also a good chance that you have some old and new sports or work related injuries.  Maybe you have some aches and pains.  Maybe some of them limit your ability to train and even worse your ability to fight.

What I can say is that personally speaking, in a few months I will be 43.  I work 2-3 jobs, not including MCS, and I have three kids.  My 6’2 300 lb. body has aches and pains from lifting, football, wrestling, Judo, Ju Jitsu, police work, and getting smashed up against walls and the grounds during fights.  This is in addition to having to have my ankle reconstructed from a motorcycle wreck a few years ago.

If I still have your attention, here is where I am going with all this.  My age, physical condition, and lack of money and time for training, etc will not get me a pass when it comes to protecting myself and my family.  As a matter of fact, based on my experience with my luck, it greatly increases my odds of something bad happening.
Mindset is the buzzword of all buzzwords in the tactical world.  But many only talk about it in reference to fighting. 

The other day I was having a conversation about this with Art Dorst who is a close friend and an MCS instructor.  Unbeknownst to both of us, we have both been rededicating ourselves to meditation and mindfulness.  In my opinion, above all else the mind is the most important tool you have, and learning to be mindful is a skill that is harder than any kata or course of fire because the goal is to maintain it every waking moment.

Most people’s minds are either thinking about what is going to happen or what has happened, not what is happening.  As my buddy Jay Johnson, AKA Sgt Rock, used to say, “You need your head and ass wired together.”

My Sensei used to say “calm in mind, swift in action,” meaning if your mind was somewhere else at the time of an attack you would be slow to respond.
All the physical skills are worthless without the mind to decide when and how to use those skill sets.  The habit of mindfulness is very calming.  The calmer you are, the more you are aware of your surroundings. 

So, regardless of the physical realities of your life, you can always hone your mindset by practicing mindfulness.  If I get any feedback on this post, I will dig a little deeper and provide some info on getting started.

10 July 2015

Assets & Liabilites

All people are either assets or liabilities.  Obviously the young, old, and sick are liabilities.  But what about your older kids, spouse and others in your life.  Are they fragile people?  Do they fall apart and freak out and perceive everything as an emergency and fail to act?  I choose to spend my time around others, mostly men, although there have been a few ladies in my professional life that are antifragile and don't loose their shit at a motor vehicle accident or when someone yells at them.  The problem is that for many people they will never see their friends and family in a situation like this until it is two late.  So you have to judge how they will act under pressure from much smaller issues.

I had this conversation a few weeks back with Tony, the son of MCS instructor John Pavoncello.  Tony is in the AF Reserve Security Forces.  His unit has not been deployed so I asked him out of all the people in his unit, how many does he think would actually have his back in a bar fight much less a fire fight.  After some thought he came up with two names.  Truth is that was probably two more names than lots of other people.

In an emergency do you think your wife and kids will listen to you and do exactly as you say?

The romantic fantasy of bugging out will come to a screeching halt when you get a flat tire and all your shit is packed on top of your spare and your kids and wife are freaking out.

Best to consider your personal an professional liabilities now.  When I was on the street I would see who was working with me.  Some nights I sat and read gun magazines and sometimes I went out on and did police work.  All depended on who I had to count on.  Most cops I worked with were liabilities.  If that is the case how many of your "friends" do you think you could count on?  Many base their answer saying so and so is a "good guy".  I worked with lots of cops who would make great neighbors but were just wearing cop costumes.

09 July 2015

5000 miles with the Bag Of Evil

Impromtu Bag of Evil dump.  So far just on my bike I have done well over 5000 miles of traveling since March. both locally and road trips.  Excect for some food and extra clothes this has been what I have been carrying.  Years ago I started off by adding somthing to the BOE if I needed it more than once.  For the most part the contents are pretty stable these days.  The Moutainsmith Red Rock 25 L has proved to be about the perfect bag for what I need to carry on the bike.  The pack cover also by Mountainsmith is amazing now that I replaced the cinch cord with bungee.  For some reason I always seen to end up riding in heavy raid and it has kept the pack bone dry.

If you have questions about the contents fire away.

27 June 2015

Church Shooting- the armed response

There have been many church shootings in the past and unfortunately there will be more.  Attacking people at a place of worship is a nobrainer for any idiot who wants to kill people.  I mean you advertise exactly what time you will be with your family, in a large group of people, in a wide open space, with money in your pockets, facing away from the door.

Over the years, I have visited several churches, and spoken to even more people on the phone and online about security at their church.  Often people get stuck on typical security things like doors and windows.  That's fine and should be of course included, but the hand wringing usually starts when I ask if they have an armed response in place during services.

If you consider yourself a Christian there are two sides to this.  The first is that you should be prepared to die for your belief.  The second is that there is a responsibility to protect the innocent.

In reality, the shooter or shooters is probably not going to go to people one by one and ask you about your faith.  They will be too busy killing women, children, and old people as fast as they can.

As stupid as it sounds, I have heard cops and CCW holders who don't carry when they go to church because....well....they are going to church.

Having been a huge fan of Col Grossman, long before the whole Sheepdog thing was coopted by anyone who wanted to cash in, this really comes down to the Sheepdog idea.

Few things are a better example of this country than people being able to gather and worship as they please.  Those among us who have it in our heart to run towards the gunfire need to be prepared to protect the flock.

If you live in a state with CCW, there are going to be three types of responses by armed parrisioners:  no response, an individual response, or a team response. Now is the time to talk to your pastor, church elders, and other Sheepdogs you have identifed to come up with a plan for when this happens at your church.  Stay Safe and God Bless.- George

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09 June 2015

How do you respond to getting yelled at?

The other night I had some friends over the house and at the end of the night only one was left.  I could tell he was sticking around because he wanted to talk to me in private.  He works high end physical security.  He confided in me that although he felt competent with his firearms, and a little less so with his open hand skills, he felt he was severely lacking when it came to dealing with confrontations that can often lead to using force. 

He is not alone.  As the saying goes, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.  The truth is a large majority of people can be controlled with verbal commands.  That is why they are so emphasized in police training.  Basically, it is just a verbal flash bang.  It, along with interpersonal communication skills, are the missing links in an integrated training system.  Consideration needs to be given to both being the person yelling and the person getting yelled at.

Rarely will you see physical confrontation without yelling.  In our minds, yelling provokes an immediate response that can range from looking to identify where it is coming from to an adrenaline dump depending on how far you are away from the source.

Unless you live or work in the hood, the only people that are used to getting yelled at using the tones that often turn violent are correction officers, police officers, and bouncers.

People yell and posture for the same reason that dogs bark.  They intuitively know that it will cause threats to back down.
Whether it is a precursor to an assault or robbery, the attacker yelling often has a fatal effect.  It causes people to freeze and stop moving.  Moving is key to survival.  Standing still also increases tunnel vision.  Key to dealing with this reaction and the adrenaline dump that comes from someone yelling at you in a threatening manner is to make a habit of continuing to move.  

When bouncing and verbally engaged with someone, if I get the feeling it is going sideways, I bring my hands together in the middle of my chest and rock back and forth and side to side.  This allows me to respond or strike faster than if I just stood still.  It also allows me to move to the outside of the person I am dealing with, often without them responding as if I had been standing still and then continued to move.  They subconsciously become used to your movement.

A very common mistake made by officers and bouncers to yell at people instead of giving simple commands.  They often get into a yelling match with people.  Key to deescalation, if it is possible, is to talk lower and slower than the person you are dealing with.  If they begin to match your tone, there is a good chance that you will be able to deescalate them without having to use physical force.  For verbal commands to be effective, they need to be much louder than the baseline of the noise in the environment.  This can be difficult in a bar or other type of crowd.   Hands down my most often used and effective verbal command in police work and as a bouncer is “GET BACK”.  As a personal rule, if someone is close enough for me to touch, the command is accompanied with a one or two hand panic push.  This is a great way to check their dedication.  If they stay back either to the command alone or accompanied by the push, I seldom have to go hands on with them.  If they come forward again, then they need to be dealt with.
There are basically three ranges of contact when it comes to confrontation.  Yelling range is usually around 7 yards, unless you are the person  creating the distance.  The next distance is their arm or leg plus the length of an edged or impact weapon.  Lastly, there is open hand contact distance.  This of course excludes firearms.

At yelling distance, you need to be concentrating on your movement and putting a physical barrier between you, such as a vehicle or furniture.  This forces them to overcome that obstacle to use impact, edged, or personal weapons such as a fist. 

An interesting phenomenon is when someone starts off at yelling distance and the person they are yelling at either stands still allowing them to walk up to them, or even more strangely the “victim” closes the distance as well.  This is called getting sucked in.  Often an attack will occur from either person as they get within arm’s reach.

So here are the takeaways, unless you are paid to put your hands on people. If someone yells at you, keep on moving, hopefully out of the area.  The longer they yell at you the closer they will likely get, and the closer they get the less options you have for anything other than physical contact.  Don’t get sucked in.  Go through scenarios that have occurred or can occur over and over in your head.  This greatly increases the chance your response will be appropriate in real life.

29 April 2015

Talking points about Baltimore and policing from a retired MD cop

First off, I need to explain my history with the City of Baltimore.  After getting out of the Army after being the 523rd Military Police Company on Aberdeen Proving Grounds, my first civilian job was at the Union Memorial Hospital just down the street from Greenmount & North Ave where much of the violence took place.  

After three years at Union Memorial, I was hired by the Baltimore City School Police and attended the Baltimore Police Academy  Class 97-2.  After two years with BSP, I lateraled to the Aberdeen Police Department, about 45 minutes North up 95.

Both of my mentors, one for all things tactical and the other for investigations, were Baltimore City cops, as were many coworkers and friends.  Every police department in Maryland is heavily influenced by Baltimore City Police and Maryland State Police.  The reason being that when bosses retire from those two agencies they usually take positions as chiefs and sheriffs through out the state.

With this said, I would have to say that my police style was more Baltimore City than State Police.  Now here are my points-

Burning down where you live- the riots in Baltimore received world wide coverage.  The reason given was oppression by the police who are the agents of the government which the average person is most likely to interact with.  If their issue was with the police and the government, why were not government buildings attacked?  Because of the same reason that in a city full of criminals and illegal firearms nobody shot at the police.  The people involved were not interested in any civil insurrection or bringing attention to police brutality, they were interested in looting for free clothes, booze, drugs, food, and major appliances.  Had government buildings been attacked or police fired upon, you would have seen a very different reaction with people on both sides killed.  Instead, they largely stayed in their own communities to loot and burn.  Whatever they were trying to prove lost all credibility.

Freddie Gray, the man that sparked it all-  What we know is that he ran from police, was caught, handcuffed, and drug into a wagon for transport.  At some point he went into respiratory distress and was refused medical attention.  He slipped into a coma only to die seven days later.  Autopsy revealed that his spine was severed, but there was no other trauma to the body.

People run from the police for three reasons; 1- they are committing a crime 2- they are in the possession of contraband 3- they believe they have a warrant.  Number 3 seems the most probable here.  By all accounts Gray was just sitting on the stoop.  Doubtful he had drugs on him since by looking at his arrest record he was way above being a "corner boy" and was more into the production and distribution end, meaning if anything he was the money man and would not hold drugs.  Also looking at his arrest record, it looks like he had a drug arrest in December 2014 that was supposed to go to court in May.  In my opinion, he probably thought he had a failure to appear bench warrant for missing a preliminary hearing.

Based on my knowledge of police training and anatomy, here is what I believe happened.  In the video you can see police on top of Gray and he is screaming.  Although they are trained to avoid injuring the suspect, it is not uncommon for an officer to kneel on the neck of a suspect.  Believe it or not a healthy neck is pretty robust and it would be hard to injure by just pressing down at a 90% angle.  But if you have a neck that is already injured and an officer fell or jumped on that suspect's neck with his knee at a 45 degree angle towards the head, it could possible cause a detachment at the brain stem.  Like I said, I think that will turn out to be the case here.

On 01MAY15 the Baltimore Police Department is going to release the results of their internal investigation to the States Attorney's Office who will conduct their own investigation and decide if the officers will be charged.  So, those looking for answers on the 1st are going to be very unhappy.

People without understanding of what it takes to charge someone with 1st Degree Murder want all six officers to receive that charge. For that to occur, the case would have to basically be made that all six of the officers conspired before hand to kill Gray, tracked him down, and then executed him.  If any officers are charged, it will be one or two of them and the charge will be manslaughter.

Juvenile vs Adult Arrests-  the media wants you to believe that the reason police allowed the rioting to go on was that it involved mostly juveniles....that is bullshit.  The original show of force by city police was ant Mondawmin Mall in response to a juvenile issue.  Of the approximately 250 arrests made during the night of the riots, about 200 were adults and 50 were juvenile.   The reason city police did not use more force was because of orders from Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake to "stand down". Some reports go as far as to say that the Mayor put out an order for them to not even wear black gloves so as not to look oppressive on camera.  When outside agencies answered the first calls to assist BPD, many left on arrival after being instructed to not wear riot helmets or carry riot batons.  So, don't believe all that crap about it just being juveniles.

Police training-  for those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, you have no doubt heard me rant about the lack of quality officers and realistic training.

The firearms training in the Baltimore Police Academy was top notch.  Beyond that we mostly learned from the war stories of our instructors.  All police and correction training in the state of Maryland is overseen by the Maryland Police & Corrections Training Commission .  On the first day of the academy, you get a big book listing each and every thing that must be covered in your academy to become a certified officer.  During the last week of the academy, we were told to go through and initial next to everything that had not been initialed.  Someone asked how we could do that if we had not covered it.  They said "you'll do it if you want to graduate".

The Freddie Gray incident is different than most police use of force and brutality complaint issues because it does not involve any mechanical force options.  Most issues seem to come from the Taser and shootings.

The real reason that so many people are being Tased and shot is because very often agencies fail to comply with the standard set by the Supreme Court that training be recent, relevant, and realistic.

With some exceptions, much of initial police training involves little to no open hand combatives training being "arrest and control"  no training in arrest out of control.  Police are not pressure tested during physical confrontations.  They don't get punched in the face or have anyone punch them in the face.  Nobody chokes them out. Couple that with the squeaky clean background required to become an officer these days and what you get is someone who has little to no experience with physical violence.  You put that officer on the street, they get scared and they Tase and shoot people at the end of confrontations that started over something small and could have been nipped in the bud with a nightstick or open hand combatives.

If you think it is bad now, just wait a few months or years.  In the wake of Ferguson, good officers are just walking away from the job.  Soon the liberals will get what they want... nothing but Nerds and Turds wearing the blue suit.  Those with out the passion needed to be good police.  They will be there just for the pay check or to pay back those that bullied them in high school.  That is unless Obama gets his way and we have a National Police Force.  This is what is being put in place as the DOJ takes over city police departments one by one.

When I was still an MP my buddy got me a coffee mug for Christmas one year that read "A society that makes enemies out of its police better learn to make friends with criminals"  That is truer now than it was 20 years ago.  God Bless America