27 August 2014

Attacked by a skateboard, justified deadly force?

An ongoing theme in America seems to be what justifies the use of deadly force by both police and citizens.  The generally agreed upon definition of deadly force is any force that is likely to cause serious permanent physical injury or death.  Some mistakenly believe that an attacker needs to have a gun for the cop or citizen to be justified in shooting them.  This is absolutely not the case.

Recently, an attack really hit home for me.  You can read about it here.  Basically, a local fella was walking across a bank parking lot around 10:44 at night along with his pregnant wife.  Three subjects began to verbally harass his wife calling her a "fat ass" among other things.  The victim told them to knock it off at which point they confronted him.  During this confrontation, he was struck in the head with a skateboard.  After he was down and unconscious, a black male produced a gun and punched him in the head several more times.  The primary suspect who is 18 is in custody and the investigation continues.  The victim is in a coma and is not expected to survive.  So, now his unborn child will be fatherless.

The reason I know so much about this is that it happened in my town, or in town from where I live.  The American Legion of which I am a Legionnaire, as well as a Legion Rider, is next door to the Wells Fargo.  Last week I was there four times and that lot is where I park my bike.  Just minutes ago I got back from my buddy's computer shop which is on the same block.  The area even at night, being part of the town square, is well lit.

This has caused me to play the scenario over and over again in my head.  Here are my thoughts for the citizen, both armed and unarmed.

People that frequent the area, especially the Legion, said that they would have shot him.   I explained that chances are it would not be an option.  See those that carry guns often like to conjure up fantastical scenarios where there is some kind of a stand off that allows for a red light / green light reaction.  The skateboard being an impact weapon, usually swung with two hands, requires that the attacker be very close.  If you are likely enough to see it coming, it will appear as a blur and you might not even process that anything is being swung at you.  Bottom line is that once you are in a close contact confrontation you need open hand skills and the first thing you need to protect is your head.

Can you imagine if this 18 year old was black and the person attacked was a white police officer who shot and killed him, or even just punched him in the face?  The story would read "White police officer severely injures / shoots black teen who he says "attacked" him with a skateboard.  Now, after reading the above story, you have a better context and understanding of what any impact weapon could do.

Interpersonal violence is misunderstood by our society including law enforcement leadership.  There is absolutely no such thing as "unarmed".  Also don't delude yourself by thinking that since you mind your own business, are old, a woman, handicapped, or whatever that you will not be targeted.  Those are the things that predators look for.  Remember- AWARENESS-AVOIDANCE- AGGRESSION

24 August 2014

Anatomy of a suicide by police

This video has gone viral because it happened only four miles or so where Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson MO.  This shooting however is nothing more than a textbook suicide by police.

As the video starts you see the subject pacing in front of a store after stealing some low cost items including two sodas.  As the subject filming gets closer you can see that the subject has neatly placed the two cans of soda on the curb and paces around then.  He was obvious about stealing the items because he knew that it would prompt police to respond.  Pacing next to the sodas was done so that the he would be easily identified as the suspect.  As he paces he displaces on of the principle characteristics of an armed person when he has his hand concealed in his right pocket as if he is holding something as his left arm swings naturally.

He responds to the arrival of the police by walking towards them, still with his right right hand in his pocket and tells the officers to "shoot him already" he says this because he believes in his own mind that he has acted in a way that he believes should caused the police to shoot him.  As they give there own verbal commands while drawing down on him, he again moves closer and they shoot him.

The first time I saw this video it was not clear that he had deployed a knife just before being shot, even then I said that this was a clean shooting.  His actions as the police pulled up, keeping his hand in his pocket, ignoring verbal commands, and continuing to move towards the officers makes a case for depraved indifference.  Basically that any reasonable people would conclude that if they keep their hand in their pocket after being told to show their hands and walk towards that officer would likely get them shot.  After finding out that subject did in fact produce a knife only shows his dedication to having the police kill him.  Officers are often used as a suicide method, because people are fully aware of how police will respond to a given situation.

Subsequent investigation will likely reveal that Powell had a history of drug/alcohol abuse and/or mental health issues.

02 August 2014

Failure of footwork

In the past I have mentioned that folks watching some MCS videos, looking to find something they don't like have commented on our lack of footwork.  Most footwork done in training are techniques, and under stress techniques often fail.  We teach principles.  We harp on two things when it comes to footwork, don't back peddle, and don't cross your feet.  We say it in the beginning of of every class and mention it every time someone busts their ass, which is early and often.

Most when discussing footwork, are referring to moving your body while standing in an attempt to better position yourself in relation to your attacker.  When we discuss footwork, we are talking about making sure you stay off the ground.

The primary reason for staying off the ground is to avoid falling on hard surfaces, primarily because few people have ongoing training in arts like Judo, Ju Jitsu, and Aikido, which require lots of falls.  Falls are very dangerous because they often result in head and spinal cord injury.  Some in temporary and some is permanent.  This of course is in addition to smashed elbows, hips, and hands.  Children should start learning how to fall correctly as soon as they can walk and continue all through school.  The injuries it would prevent are immeasurable.  But the reality is that most people panic as soon as they begin to fall and tense up making it much, much worse.

In MCS one of our primary principles is to use a combination of Central Nervous System and Structural System Disruption to stop the attack.  When you or your attacker falls to the ground, especially backwards both of these systems are affected.  From my personal experience, both in situations I have been involved in and witnessed, more people wind up on the ground by accident then on purpose.  They are always caused by back peddling  and crossing their feet as they do.

The secondary reason for staying off the ground is that it could cause you to have to use a higher level of force than if you were standing.  One of the common reasons force may be justified is someone that is disabled fighting off someone that is able.  The thing that makes someone in a wheelchair disabled is that they are unable to stand walk, so if you you hit your head or tailbone and are physically unable to get up, or the attacker follows the ground preventing you from getting up you are in great jeopardy.  It does not really matter whether you fall backwards trying to get away or your attacker pushes you there, you are there.  This was what what lead George Zimmerman to shoot Travon Martin.

For the last year I have been working working with adults with intellectual disabilities.  Many of the individuals cannot verbalize their needs and when anxious and misunderstood understandably become angry and sometimes violent.  These folks lack self preservation and don't care if they are injured when they attack you and they have no fear or understanding of consequences.

The particular fella I have been working with most is 25 years old, 6'3, 205 lbs, and very intense.  He is Autistic and relatively non verbal.  He has attacked me a few times, mostly with nail digging and attempted biting.

When I first began to work for the company I had to attend there training program which included their system for defending against and controlling violent individuals.  Not unlike police defensive tactics, what they called "principles" were complicated techniques of the do this, then this, then this, and then this ilk.  Until attending this course I never thought I would find individuals less interested in training than in-service police.  I would have to say that the retention of any of the material covered would be zero within a week.  Like most of these programs for police and otherwise it was about having something written down on paper, with your name listed as attending, so your employer could distance themselves if you ever used anything else and it became a liability.

Fast forward a year, I was off a few days working a security detail in Baltimore, when I get a text from a coworker that my guy had sent three people to the hospital.  Two with bites, and one with a serious bite and head injury.

Turns out my guy had a bad day and people not being thoroughly familiar with his behaviors and a change in his schedule led to the attacks.  The first two people were bitten in the upper forearm.  The last and most serious attack was on the director of the program, who is also a trainer in the training program I described above.  When he rushed her she tried to get away by running, when she realized how close he was she tried to turn into a defensive posture, in doing so she crossed her feet, twisting her foot out of her shoe, and causing her to fall backwards.  Witnesses state that as she hit the ground, there was a very audible "smack" as here head bounced off the cement floor.  This caused a concussion and injury to the back of her head requiring four stitches to close.  My guy followed her to the ground and attacked her in what was described as  looking like a scene from the Walking Dead.  He sunk his teeth into her forearm, people who attempted to pull him off could not see this, and as they pulled him up they actually pulled her up off the ground because his mouth was still closed on her arm.  He stopped because he was ready to stop and seeing him minutes later gave no indication of the attack, he was calm as can be.

One of first things we teach is Vertical Stabilization, which  is a tactikewl was of saying get your back up against a wall or vehicle to stay on your feet.  In the training the company offers falling is not covered.  She is a good boss not a "scaredy cat" by any means.  She was just overwhelmed and shocked, even before she went down.  Two of her staff had already been bit.  Fight or flight took over and she tried to get away.  People have a phobic response to being bitten, not unlike being attacked by bees, very primal.    Once on the ground the bite defense she learned and taught were worthless.  She was never taught what to do if pinned to the floor.

Given the totality of the circumstances, had she been a police officer and this happened in the street she would have been justified in shooting him.  Luckily there were tons of people around that were able to take advantage of his fixation on her and pull him off.

Biting during attacks happens more than you might think, and like I said evokes an extreme stress response.  So consider how ready are you to staff off the ground and how your would defend against a bite, especially to the face or neck.  In the video below the officer was knocked to to ground, in a tight space, and had a bite taken out of his face before shooting the suspect, killing him and ending the attack.

The use of choke holds by professionals

Recently, this has been in the news after a New York City police officer used an unauthorized airway choke that resulted in the death of a suspect.  The first problem for those defending the officer is that I have been lead to understand that the NYPD does not teach any chokes at all.  And that is the subject I would like to address here.

For many years various forms of chokes were taught to law enforcement across the country.  Several factors have now caused them to be largely abandoned.  The primary reason was the liability caused by teaching them to unqualified officers in an educational setting instead of a training setting.  Often chokes were shown as a sidebar and seldom practiced to the point of competence.  To do so would have meant recruits and in service officers knocking each other out, and that might result in a loss time injury, and every training officer knows we cannot have that.

I am a huge advocate of the use of vascular chokes by police and bouncers as long as I am able to vet them as I would someone that I was hiring to work for me as an officer.  My idea to the chief was that an applicant walk into a room and he be punched in the face, if he fought back we made him a police, if not he could become a fireman.  I want officers and bouncers to be comfortable with open hand violence more than anything else, because that is what they are going to face most often and those are the tools they will always have with them.  A man in decent shape who knows how to use his hands is less prone to panic and using any tactic or tool at an inappropriate time.  

Back to chokes, most know that there are two kinds, airway and circulatory.  Airway chokes are the most popular, especially by untrained or under trained individuals.  As a matter of fact, this was the case in New York.  See choking is very natural.  If you take people with no experience at all and pit them against each other, there are several natural positions people just end up in, and one of those is with the back of one fighter to the other.  When you get someone's back, it is instinctive to grab them around the neck and squeeze for dear life.  After all, your arm fits so well around their throat perfectly.

The liability issues are many with an airway choke.  The first is that they can be very slow unless you are lucky enough to get part of a circulatory choke at the same time.  Muscles contract under stress, not expand, so when you feel the choke is not working you just squeeze harder until they are unconscious or something forces you to stop.  This also usually involves you going to your back as you squeeze.  The problem is that the trachea is kinda ribbed like a vacuum hose and once you crush it, it does not pop back into shape. People go into respiratory distress, have permanent physical damage, or die.  This may not be the case for Barry Badass who gets into a scrape at the bar now and then, but if you are applying chokes habitually as a cop or bouncer, it is only a matter of time.

The night before the NYPD case went viral I had choked out two fellas while bouncing.  Staff who had witnessed the incidents all rushed to show me the article on their phones when I came in that night.  I was able to point to the still images and show them exactly what an airway choke looked like, and explained that was not what I used and they could tell because I had total unconsciousness in under 1-2 seconds with each fellow.

When it comes to use of force, in my opinion, circulatory restraints are in a class by themselves.  Professionally my criteria for using them is as follows-

1)  I am able to articulate that based on what I have seen or heard, the subject has a greater propensity for violence and any other physical contact will result in a "fight" and that is not what I am paid to do.

2)  The subject is alone, or I have staff that will watch my back.

3)  I am able to get close enough without getting others involved.

Example #1-  Environment- Crowded outside, recessed patio bar.
Subject- Late 20's white male, 5'9/180 lbs, excellent shape, maybe a body builder, extremely intoxicated.
Scenario-   Subject was cut off by bartender, dropped and broke a glass bottle on the ground, scaring other customers enough that they were leaving the area.  Began pounding his fists on the bar. (pre assault indicator), told bar maid he was going to "kill her" (pre assault indicator), was wearing two shirts and pulled one off over his head (pre assault indicator).  I moved behind him and put my hands on his shoulders with my partner just to the rear.  In reaction to this, he pushed off of the bar at which time I applied a circulatory restraint (blood choke).  By the time I turned him towards my partner, he was unconscious.  I laid him down and in 2-3 minutes he woke up totally disoriented and unable to fight.  My partner and I escorted him to the parking lot where a friend gave him a ride home, even though he had pissed his pants.

Example #2-  Environment- recessed patio bar, just after closing time
Subject- Late 40's, white male, 6'3 200 lbs, athletic, extremely intoxicated
Scenario- The previous week the subject had become fixated on my partner and I when he found out we were not Marines.  Before walking away, he shook my partner's hand and would not let go.  We also heard from a bartender that he said he was taking anti psychotic drugs, and obviously mixing them with alcohol.    He began yelling at customers who he believed had told him to shut up, although they had not said anything.  Bartender was counting out his register at the bar when the subject, mixed drink and cigarette in hand, insisted on sitting next to him.  Subject began to verbally harass my partner and I and had challenged me to "taking it to the parking lot" as long as I promised not to call the cops.  I accepted hoping we could get outside and I could tell him I was too afraid to fight just to get him out.  Once I said I was game he would not move.  It was approaching 2:15 AM at which time we need to have everyone outside.  After ignoring several verbal commands to leave I stepped down into the recessed bar and approached him.  In reaction to this, he said "don't touch me".  I took the mixed drink out of his hand and flicked the cigarette from the other.  In reaction to this, he drew back his right hand in an attempt to punch me.  I applied a vascular restraint and he was unconscious in seconds.  I laid him on the ground and within about a minute he woke up, unable to fight, and was escorted to the parking lot.  Unbeknownst to me, he had a vehicle in the parking lot which he eventually drove away in.  About 45 minutes after I got off, he called the bar and asked for a specific bartender.  The girl who answered the phone said he was not there.  He said "bullshit, I am watching him at the outside bar".

Like I said there is a time and place for chokes.  If you are not comfortable with police and bouncers using them maybe you need to revisit your hiring practices.

12 June 2014

More knife fighting BS

Today on Facebook a good friend and law enforcement student sent me a like to a video called something like "What you need to know if you carry a knife for self defense".  It was an intro to what I imagine are a series of videos to follow.  It showed a guy in his living room with is knife collection.  In five minutes, he spoke about the varying quality of knives, sharpening and carrying them.  The one thing he said that got my attention was that he had amassed this knowledge from years of study.  My years of study have taught me something much different.

If you want to study edged weapons like someone would study BJJ or Boxing that is fine, but the truth in that if anything you are going to be attacked with an edged weapon that you never see coming and you are going to have to defend yourself open handed.  Your knowledge of knives and the quality of what you are carrying will not matter.  The one that cuts your skin will be something that most reading this will not be caught dead with.  It will be a knife that was designed first as a tool and then pressed into service as a weapon.  Things like steak knives, screwdrivers, and box cutters.

Most know that I earn part of my living bouncing.  Recently, while working with one of my regular partners, I was involved in an altercation.  A fella who was a bit taller than me and about 80 pounds lighter was asked to leave the bar.  During the exchange, he swung at me and missed.  A buddy of his then attempted to strike me and got a palm smash to the right cheek bone that put him flat on his ass.  It ended up with three of us and about six of them, not counting the ones that were kicking one bouncer as he held the guy in a rear choke on the ground.  At one point, I had the original guy up standing and was taking him out the door when he did land a punch to my face and the blood began to flow.  In response to this, I hit him with two palm smashes and a kick to the ball of his ankle.  This brought is head down for a knee strike that opened up his forehead and took him out of the fight.  I handed him off to a bartender and went back into the bar to move the other guys out.  You may ask yourself what the hell this has to do with knife fighting.  It has to do with an observation that I have made many times.  During the chaos of a real fight, you and the people you are fighting will be moving all over the place and if someone decides to pull a weapon you will probably not be in a physical or mental position to see it.  All you know is that you are fighting a person, and to fight a person you are usually facing their front.  You might detect movement you recognize as drawing a weapon, but more likely it will be a roundhouse with a knife attached.  All the shots I took to my body and the back of my head could just as easily have been stabs or cuts.

The bottom line is that if your training is based on defending against a weapon that in real life you will likely never even see, and you are training to survive the street, you are wasting your time.  Here are some take aways-

During an altercation, the best place to be is well within arms distance.  If you are well outside arms distance, run away if you can.  This is usually not an option for police, corrections, and bouncers.  In that case, get a physical barrier between you and them.

Once the fight is on the fight is on, end it.  You need to decide what that means.

Tying up with one person is OK in the dojo or gym, but on street it just allows their buddies to abuse you.

The fastest way to take someone out of a fight is a combination of Central Nervous System disruption/destruction and Structural System disruption/destruction.  If you don't know how to accomplish that, then learn.

You will be held accountable for your actions either by your employer or in court.  Probably both.  There are very few situations where you could ever justify using a knife, or any weapon.  It is much easier to justify open hand strikes and some kicks.  Even easier if you never strike them with a closed fist.  Again,, if you need a closed fist to effectively strike, you need to seek training.  Broken hands suck.

Do with this information as you wish.

06 May 2014

Safety & Awareness for Women WED 04JUN14 6-10 PM New Freedom PA

Safety & Awareness for Women
 WED 04JUN14 6-9 PM 
New Freedom PA

Hampton Inn 100 Far Hills Dr New Freedom PA
(Just off RT 83)

 Safety & Awareness is an interactive lecture course.  Over two hours, attendees will learn to see the world around them from a different perspective allowing them to identify potential dangers and threats that others miss.  In addition to processing this information, they will also learn proven avoidance strategies allowing them to escape potential emergencies, such as active shooters and criminal assault.  Make the choice now to take personal responsibility for your safety.
.The following training topics will be covered:
  • Controlling your environment
  • Personal security concepts
  • Things you should always carry
  • Physical security concepts
  • How to survive an active shooter
  • Cover vs. Concealment
  • Caretaker strategies for those moving with children or disabled persons
  • Fight - Flight - Freeze
  • Stalking
8-9 PM will be used for an optional question and answer session

The cost of the course is $25 per person.  Pre-registration is required and space is limited.  To register e-mail Lisa or call 717-889-1753.  Accepted methods of payment are check or money order mailed to us, or via paypal to mcs521@gmail.com.

30 April 2014

Stop dragging your feet and learn pistol fundamentals

Last year after my Dad bought a 2013 Street Glide I inherited his 92 Fat Boy.  For those of you who are not familiar I am talking about Harley Davidson motorcycles.  For years because of my shaved head and tattoos I had been identified as a “bike”.  Even though I look like I should have known how to ride a motorcycle I didn’t.

Drawing of my Dad’s 50 years of riding experience, I took in as much as I could, but in the end, nobody can ride a motorcycle for you, just like nobody can shoot a gun for you.  After riding for a year or so I just new there was something I was missing, something very fundamental.  Years ago my Dad had mentioned Jerry “Motorman” Palidino to me.  The Motorman was a retired police motorcycle officer who taught a course and DVD called “Ride Like  Pro”.  I got a hold of said DVD and while watching it I had a huge face palm moment.  In the DVD he covers some very simple fundamentals about using the rear, brake and clutch to allow you to execute very tight turns at a snails pace while riding the largest of motorcycles.  With less than an hour of practice my riding was 100% better.  This increased my confidence and fun factor.  Now my goal is to continually hone those skills every time I ride.

In a Youtube video the “Motorman” says “if you are replacing your boots faster than replacing your tires you might be a foot dragger”.  You see the only time you should be putting your feet down is when the bike is stopped.  But in reality you see lots of bad ass bikers walking their bikes around with baby steps while going slow.  The best place to see this is at the gas station and other parking lots.  If you see one them dragging their feet you know that they have the bike but not the training to get the most out of it.  This leads me to the point of this article.

There are plenty of people out there who own pistols.  Many of them even have the 511 Tuxedo and Oakleys.  They look like they should know what they are doing, but the truth is that many have no idea what to do with that pistol.  All the information they have about it has come from magazines, family, friends, and worst of all the internet.  Unless they attend training or get in front of others that know the fundamentals, no one will ever recognize their “foot dragging”.  Ignorance is bliss until it comes to life and death.  

This will be the first in a series of articles and short videos showing the fundamentals of handling a pistol.  Notice I did not say how to shoot a pistol.  The reason why is because that does not seem to be the issue with people I see turn up at classes.  Their issues are safety and gun handling.  If you have never attended structured training or shot on an actual firing line there are tips, tricks, and etiquette that you could not possibly know.  In this series I will give you the information that will allow you to be safe as well as look like you know what the hell you are doing.  This will hopefully increase your confidence as well as your fun level when it comes to the pistol.

The most important thing though is that you will have a structured, repeatable techniques to share with people who come to you for it after they see you wearing that 511 Tuxedo and Oakleys.

Here is some primer, if you are serious about training yourself and others, narrow it down to one pistol (at least at first).  Get a Blue Gun and two Blue Gun magazines for that gun.  Stay tuned.