Lt. Col. David Grossman, of “On Killing” and “On Combat” has become quite renowned for his use of the sheepdog metaphor for those who “protect the public”…law-enforcement, military, martialists, security, men, etc. I’ve always thought this an immensely derogatory term as it assumes that the general public is filled with stupid, unthinking, incapable sheep and puppets, yet we see these same regular untrained people surviving violence with just the “technology” that evolution gave them…daily. It also puts us, the supposed “sheepdogs” on some self-important pedestal of superiority. Regardless, let’s actually break down the real qualities of the actual sheepdog breed to see if we can understand further his correlation:
“The Old English Sheepdog (or “Sheepie”)….can be quite
the clown, and is demanding of attention. If left without companionship…he will
become unhappy, destructive, and noisy.”
“They make sensible watchdogs with a deep, ringing
bark, but they’re not guard dogs. In fact, there is timidity and skittishness
in some lines, sharpness in others.”
“….since the vast majority of them are bred to be show
dogs or pets, rather than working sheepdogs, their herding instincts are
typically-diminished or absent.”
“…we’ve seen too many with neurotic behaviors,
including hyperactivity, fearfulness, and aggression.”
So, in conclusion, I’d actually say Dave was entirely
on to something from the people I’ve interacted with in-person and on the
Interweb that are in-love with labeling themselves this term. From the above
definitions, I’m actually starting to see his point, from talking to so many
“sheepdogs” over the years. I’m just not sure he realized that he was
ironically-correct, not actually-correct.
Well, with a term pandemic in full-swing and us owning a bed-and-breakfast that hosts foreigners from a vast array of foreign nations, I’ve used it as an opportunity to test the staunchly cultural social graces that often are taken for granted…and how to get-around and manipulate them. Handshakes, hugging, kissing, and physical-contact of any kind being non-recommended. As the fist-bump, forearm-press, and others have already been omnipresent in the media (and, t o me, can create awkwardness with those you don’t know or aren’t familiar with, I find) , I’m going to present s o me different options I’ve been experimenting with with success, some quite socially-acceptable, so me not as much, others maybe not at all, but, hey, my and my family’s health is more important to me at that point than formalities.
Making less and shorter eye-contact. Feigning a missed-handshake or hug can prevent an outright perceived slight. No-touch.
Angling the body. As direct squaring-off and eye-contact (especially between men) generally insinuates a firm-handshake is coming, angling the body away c o upled with the above break in eye-contact can cause hesitation and the mental perception that the opportunity to establish dominance or neutrality has passed o r was missed entirely. I’ve often been coupling these 2 with a smile and immediate turn-away to bring them to the registration area. When followed by small-talk, questions on their flight or time in the country usually quashes formalities and takes things to the next phase smoothly and subtly. No-touch.
Distance-control. In social situations I use what I call “active hands”, especially when a multitude or group of people are present. That way I have a buffer in-between myself and any one I’m not comfortable with or don’t know. I control space and distance. No-or-minimal-touch.
Immediately angling and going for the shoulder or elbow combined with a welcoming smile. Warm, welcoming and it entirely overruns the handshake entirely. Can be an invisible touch or light-touch but better to touch clothing than skin.
If there’s an advance with movement from distance, I’ve combined #4 with, upon physical-touching range, turning and walking with them in the direction they were heading. Works well in more open-spaces like the street, park, or mall. If they’re leading and stop, continuing conversation usually renders a handshake, hug, or kiss awkward or awkwardly-late. Light-or-no-touch.
When I don’t catch the handshake or hug on-time, I apologize warmly and feign having a slight cold or allergy and tell them I don’t want to have them start their holiday off sick. Especially with current events, I get zero argument or offense. Light-or-no-touch.
OR, there’s simply being direct. “In this time of insecurity heath-wise, it’s probably safer for both of us if we don’t shake hands/hug/kiss, I hope you understand…
Hey, even utilizing temporary body odor, sweat, or halitosis can keep people at-bay, if worse would comes to worse. Remember, we know little of this strain as of yet so it pays to be extremely cautious and some people simply don’t get it.
Another thing I’ve personally been doing when out in public (of a different safety variety) is making sure I have my sunglasses on as much as I can. The first known case here was apparently an American from New York who knowingly interacted with a known infected acquaintance but didn’t let it prevent him from travelling here, I’ve noticed some online resentment towards gringo, of which I’m generally lumped in with as a Canuck. While it’s pretty hard to “go grey” here, I can limit the exposure to my blue eyes, which give it away upon sight.
With men it’s often more difficult to avoid as the dominance game is instinctive in most men, especially those from Western countries. Even apart from that, I admit the handshake is almost reflexive to me and I’ve both erred and had to consciously strain to keep aware as it’s a politeness we’ve had ingrained since childhood, at least in my household. More than once my wife has reprimanded me for not only shaking hands but not even being coherent I’ve done so .
In closing, as I had to explain to one particularly casual guest, while it’s not an epidemic or total chaos at this point, and calm and rationality should be implemented instead of panicked frenzy, there are still some things we simply don’t know at this point. Whether it returns stronger a 2nd or 3rd time around, why it affects certain segments of the population and not others, and how it got to be so much more contagious than other strains. Plus, history is littered with epidemics that started off as familiar and seemingly known before wiping large segments of populations. So, while calm should take precedence and it may all turn out just fine, there’s a reason that grand-scale precautions are being taken.
Costa Rican (and Central American and Latino, for that matter) culture is filled with fascinating superstition, taboos, legends, and metaphysical-beliefs. “La Masquerada” is an event once a year, usually in August, that pays tribute to these folkloric (and sometimes foreboding) characters that originated from a combination of local aboriginal culture and Spanish occupation. With the rural lower-class, they can still have significant belief attached to them. They are accepted as a bilateral cultural addition to the staunchly Catholic following. What’s fascinating to me is that many are a superstitious warning or deterrent to the very negative-but-real stereotypes associated with the culture itself. Infidelity to one’s wife, promiscuity, perpetual drinking and partying, antipathy or distance from religion, God, or family.
Some examples in the photos below: 1. El gigante/la giganta (the giant): Representing the rich Spanish occupants from generations past.
2. El diablo (the devil) deceiptfully laying traps to make some stray from the path 3. La pelona: the skull-bearing representation of death 4. La segua: a lovetorn half-horse, half-woman siren that baits adulterous men and deters promiscuous women
5. La llorona: the ghost of a woman whose lost love has caused her to be seen crying, wailing, and shrieking at riverbanks. 6. El cadejos: a young boy cursed to live as a dog for eternity by his own father for his unruly drinking ways All are very expressive and folkloric and have their own independent cautionary tale.
I’ve been thinking that there’s very likely no small coincidence that western foreigners ply their snakeoil, charlatanism, and fraudulence here manipulating and taking advantage of those very superstitions, taboos, and legends. Most often in the form of fraudulent yoga gurus, shamans, astrologers, cults, energy-channelers, and healers. If it’s not taking at home, go where it will, right…remember that belief is half the battle and placebos can become very real for the misleading shysters with financial gain on their mind. I’ve met many here over the years, they’re extremely easy to smell and tend to avoid people from “back home.”
Note that I’ve studied and been curious about this aspect of Central American culture for years. I’ve attended a cult ceremony and gone through some of the rituals (saumerios, “cuarentenas”, invocations, etc.). Been to see a shaman. Attended a number of masqueradas. Learned about these supernatural urban legends. Interacted with a number of the people peddling mysticism and the metaphysical. Now, regardless of my views on the authenticity of any of it, I respect it as many people here do and to mock that which gets many through their day and the intrinsic beliefs of many locals, especially as a foreigner, would be disrespectful and invoking animosity and bad “karma.”
That being said, there is a clear niche where peddler and receiver co-exist and a market is created. If a consumer feels that the product will increase their odds, add value to their life, give them power or protection, or give them greater spiritual-connectedness, is anyone really being swindled? Who has the right to say. As a Westerner living here, I find it far more beneficial and informative to understand the powers-that-be than mock them with my “1st-World” superiority. Remember, there’s nothing more powerful entity in life than belief and many an entitled foreigner’s fortunes have ended poorly here for misunderstanding their playing field.
And, as a self-described student of human behavior, I find the “dark”, mystical, metaphysical aspect of a culture intriguing and more than a little revealing in understanding the reason people think the way they do. It’s a peek into their psyche and why they act the way they do. Dismissing or mocking that which isn’t personally believed or understood is always a tactical error. Knowledge of foreign belief-structures helps mitigate, prevent, disrupt, and foresee potential forks in the road. Brushing-off the potential to gain that knowledge can put a target on one’s back.
always found personal success in the
physical-arena: fighting, sparring, combat, violence, resistance, pressure due
to a number of intangibles that have until now given me an distinct advantage –
that rather huge thing that I see so few addressing in the field.
1. Stamina. Gas-in-the-tank is a huge weapon that’s builds confidence to pull-off whatever training and experience one has accumulated. And one that, when not present, creates a psychological bug in the back of one’s mind that one needs to get done what needs to get done within a timeframe or…(or your skill/speed/power/smarts will become irrelevant and, yes, I know that in real-life everything should be terminated fast, but…)
2. Being (or learning how to be) comfortable in changing circumstances. Surface, range, implements, changing-dynamics. And I do not mean diving into formal specialized classes (BJJ-ground, FMA-weapons, boxing-punching) I mean being able to adapt to altering stimulus. “Horizontal-fighting” is the same as vertical if understanding the dynamics and having exposure to/experience within them.
3. Pain tolerance/threshold, and I’ve always, always, stated that these two are different entities. Yes, it’s an intangible to an extent but can absolutely be cultivated. Some are blessed with an intensity, certain physiological advantages, and a will that others simply don’t have so I always laugh at this “3-1 for me!” or “In real, that would’ve taken you out” mentality I see many sparring with. It’s comical because that is an element you simply don’t know and cannot build your house upon.
4. The ability to shift and intensify aggression levels. All, every single one of my students, past and present, have heard me say “Everyone -everyone- has 2,3, 4 levels more of aggression than they ever show in class. In sparring. In resistance-training. In pressure-testing. Everyone. Now whether they know how to access or trigger those levels and access that animal-inside…is a different thing entirely. And, yes, there are ways to do and teach that as well. Do not think that whatever you see me doing in the videos I put out is the same creature that you’d be facing if you presented an immediate and direct threat to my family – it’s not. (and many other experienced people in this industry undoubtedly – and justifiably – would say the same thing about themselves) This, again, can absolutely include fear, adrenal-stress response, innate resistance due to a number of intangibles as well.
5. The attention to those “micro-movements” that “our group” so often discuss, what an industry-friend terms so well “naturally-occurring technique”. Figuring out what it is that you, the individual, does to super-charge your techniques, or whatever it is that drives your personal success and works specific to you. Systems so rarely teach this as it tends to go against their syllabus, chain-of-command, or mechanical-reproduction and assembly-line mentality.
I so very
rarely see these 5 being addressed, which would seemingly reflect the rather
universal view of systemic (over-) reliance and a false sense-of-security in formalized
training. Just my take, if needing ask for change back from my .02.
I’d like to be clear before starting this article…this is not in any way directed at society’s truly vulnerable and capability-challenged. The infirm, aged, with disability, sick or health-challenged, non-able-bodied, children, poor vs. grand-scale crime. This is directed at able-bodied, capable, fully-functional people that I run into daily.
I’ve talked previously about the myth of the sheepdog and the negative connotations, insult, and elitism it projects to regular society and civilians. So I’d like to explore this from the other perspective, the other side-of-the-coin, and the idea of “being” a sheepdog. I’d also like to make one other thing clear, I’m not a sheepdog. I’m not a superhero nor an avenging angel. I did not train, experience, research, study, learn, fight, evolve to protect all of society. I’m not out to keep everyone safe and protect the herd. It’s not my mission statement. Never was. Won’t be in the future. I realize that’s often a controversial take as most “average” people believe innately that others will always be there to protect them and that those with training (military, law enforcement, security, counter-violence specialists, etc.) are obligated to save their skin should something go wrong. I’m not one of those.
I have trained for 25 years now psychologically, physically, emotionally, mentally, sociologically, anthropologically, hell, even spiritually….to keep myself, my family, and my loved ones safe. I suggest you do the same. Don’t rely on others for your personal safety. A police officer’s job is to enforce the law, not to protect the public. Security is there to protect the protocols, inventory, standards, interests, and smooth-running of the business and business-owners they’re being paid by. Military is there to serve the interests of their nation and, by that, that nation’s politicians, lawmakers, and decision-makers. Not to protect your personal protection needs. Your responsibility for your personal safety….are no one’s but your own.
Part of the big problem in society is that it’s denizens so often feel entitled, over-reliant, and obligated to receive protection from the interests of governments, corporations, and entities with a much different mission statement than their own. Uber-naive. What I’ve never understood is the constant expectation that I, because I’ve invested so much personal time on learning about conflict, violence, threat, and aggression, “should” be willing to throw my ass on the line for you because you haven’t. That, to me, is more than a little presumptuous. I took the heavily-invested time to become proficient in this field EXACTLY SO THAT I WOULDN’T HAVE TO RELY ON SOMEONE ELSE TO KEEP MYSELF AND MY FAMILY SAFE. I do not rely on public peace-officers, my local military-branch, the often untrained security-guard on the corner who’s praying that nothing happens that he/she’s not prepared for, my local martial-arts instructor that most times doesn’t train in any way for real violence for my own personal safety and protection. I rely on myself. Which is why I’ve been so attentive, studious, open, intense, functional, pragmatic of my own training. In fact, exactly for that reason. Which is not to say I may never need or accept help against overwhelming odds….but speaking for most general situations we may find ourselves in.
AND my mission-statement at this point is crystal-clear. I will not throw my ass on the line for a total stranger, a situation I’m clueless about on context, inter-dynamics I’m unfamiliar with, or high-risk situations that will put my family, myself, my family’s long-term well-being, my family’s future ability to be provided-for…my dog…in-danger unnecessarily because I want fame, glory, or heroism. Or even to do the “right” thing if that “right” thing puts my wife or children in greater-danger…or takes me away from them…or can put me in legal hot-water….or have the “victim” turn on me, ad infinitum. There’s oftentimes an exorbitantly high cost for that. And if you haven’t taken the time and effort and foresight to take you and your family’s safety seriously….please explain to me why I “should.” To me, the “I know you and I know you’ll protect me” or “Darren’s here so we have a bodyguard” or “I trust he’d bail me out should shit-hit-the-fan” is you taking the easy road and being too lazy/ignorant/naive/oblivious/delusional/entitled/insert-appropriate-adjective-here to take the time yourself to learn and become proficient. It’s a fundamental right and life-skill. More so than voting. Freedom-of-speech. Questioning the powers-that-be. Being safe and being able to defend yourself is the number one right we have as humans in this world and that won’t change because of the Internet, social media, or technology. There may be other and diverse manners with which that right is implemented over time, but the right itself will remain. And it’s your responsibility. Period. Not mine.
I hate to state this in a way that will likely draw much criticism from the idealist crowd, but I’m a pragmatist. YOU. ARE. YOUR. OWN. FINAL. LINE. OF. DEFENSE. Nobody will forever be there to protect you and save your ass when things get sketchy. It is YOUR responsibility. YOUR obligation. YOUR necessity, even. Take it seriously. Go get training. Go gain experience. Go look at case-studies. Go assess your life, circumstances, and daily-risks. Go get in shape and work on your physical stamina and conditioning. Go get fit. Go talk to those in-the-know. Go learn from those with experience and understanding and knowledge. I get ultra-tired of having the expectation that I’m some kind of societal peace-enforcer when in-public. Note that if I don’t know you, don’t know the context, have my family with me, don’t understand the dynamics of the assault, am not privy to all of the information, think that the risk of involvement is far too great for my own or my family’s well-being….chances are pretty damn high that I’ll be moving right along. I’m not being paid to protect society and I didn’t accept that responsibility simply because I trained to become personally safer. And that is my wont. I feel zero obligation, commitment, or responsibility outside of my own personal-choice. It’s not cowardly or apathetic….it’s knowing your mission statement. Prior assessment on what I’m willing to get involved in…and what not. Knowing my lane. Knowing who I am there to protect and who takes first-priority and long-term repercussions of my actions and involvement.
So, again, if YOU are not willing to put in the work to educate yourself and become proficient in physical self-defense, fighting, conflict-management, boundary-setting, spatial-awareness/proxemics, combatives, personal-preservation, ad infinitum, evasion & escape, awareness…..why should I be FOR you, exactly? However, though I won’t cover your ass randomly or blindly, I will teach you everything I know on personal-safety if you’re with me long-enough. And you’ll proactively and pragmatically have a far greater chance to keep yourself and your family safe. Independently and self-reliably….and that’s something, right….
This 2-part article was passed to me a little while ago by a friend. I want to make clear that I don’t wish to draw unnecessary attention, either to the articles in-question or any kind of unneeded tension between myself and any other industry professional.
Apparently it had been making its rounds in industry-circles and been getting generally solid and positive reviews. I debated putting this out here as I simply have no interest in getting in a he said-he said debate with another generally well-respected industry person. HOWEVER, there were so many things in here that caught my eye, I’ve finally decided to put out a rebuttle. First of all, not all of these commentaries are bad, nor do I disagree with all of it. I do sincerely believe he was trying to share a different perspective to counter the general industry hyperbole and violence-mongering so often peddled. I do, however, want to point out a ton of inaccuracies here that should be pointed-out.
The most dangerous reads are often the ones that honestly seem to be based on gravity and grounding, yet seem to misunderstand the actual problems addressed in a holistic capacity. Those with best intentions shouldn’t be given a free hall-pass just because of those intentions. They’re still held accountable for transferring inaccurate information, information lacking an element of the totality, or information that can get people in serious trouble in spite of those intentions. So, with that said, let’s dissect this here:
One of the major points that he’s forgetting to mention as to why civilians are resistant to use and carry knives for self-defense is the almost nil past-history of case studies where the “victim” has utilized a blade for SD….and won legally. (never mind the capability/inhibitions of the average person using one, and the post-event psychological/emotional/social elements) I can count on one hand the files I’ve been passed where there’s been a “successful” trial outcome over the years. Public perception is not good…and that’s who you’ll be tried by…jury/defense lawyer/judge, not industry peers; likely none of whom will see that having someone gutted, permanently maimed, bleeding all over the place, holes in their body, organs punctured….is normal or likely acceptable, regardless of situational seriousness. No knife guys mention this.
One of the other major points is that knives are simply not a guaranteed stopping tool. There is no area to cut, set times of cutting/stabbing, ensured blood-loss amount, biomechanical-cutting assurance….that will guarantee a stop to a motivated, intent-driven, aggressive attacking person. Rarely (r-a-r-e-l-y) does a knife shut down a moving adrenalized body in 1-2 shots the way a heavy, hard impact weapon can. (really, whatever, a hammer, pipe, tire-iron, baseball-bat, autobody-hammer, etc. Talk to Varg Freeborn about that, he’ll talk indefinitely and honestly on this) And 30 generally puts you in jail for some time as it crosses the “self-defense” and “sufficient damage to stop threat” mandates. Note also that the resultant effects of knife-usage on a human body – tendons/muscles/ligaments…flesh…torn, mutilations, holes, appendage-removal/amputations, ugly lifelong scars, lots of blood…are rarely something the average person who’ll be in-charge of your freedom will view without some horror…
In #2, he’s openly talking about “self-defense” against an unarmed man using a knife. (I’d say that cancels out the “defensive” in the title. I’m sure that’ll go over super-swell with the above-mentioned demographic. (and entirely counter-acting his comments in #1, by the way…)
4. EVERY WEEK 3-4 people show up at his door stating they’ve been recently robbed or attacked with a knife?! Where the hell is he living?! I live in Central America and I can’t claim a small percentage of that. Sounds hyperbolic but whatta’ I know, maybe he lives or works in an absolute dive.
5. “Some immediately hang-up the phone, some tell me they don’t want to kill anyone, and others think I’m crazy.” That tells me a lot. I’d imagine these would often be “stable people”, avoiding people that exacerbate and sensationalize the actual problems they face daily. (And when they don’t partake, he mocks them because they reject his Kool-Aid…damn unicorns, snowflakes, cotton-candy eaters.
6. In the “Legal Issues” paragraph, he openly advocates for breaking the law and explains why everything he said previous was hyperbole. They’re illegal. Prosecution just for carrying one (let alone using it) is strict and enforced in his area. (Why wouldn’t he advocated heavy improvised-weapon, daily-tool, innocuous-item usage, why the one that’ll guaranteed get you in trouble legally regardless of context? Digressing. I guess I’m just not in love with a tool the way some are. Nobody will change the stigma a knife brings, it’s sexual/psychological in-nature and brings awful results, and the public knows it.
7. In “Important Considerations”, he’d rather you sent it ahead to your destination or gift-wrap it or mark it as a gift?? The least alarming way to bring it is exactly in that checked luggage. It can be removed without incident upon arrival and you’re not likely to be attacked in a national airport. Equally valid, buy a throw-away piece-of-shit from the local grocery store wherever you’re travelling. There’s no record if paying in cash. It’s not a big expense. It can be discarded prior to exiting the country again and, while in, used for a number of actual daily uses…peeling wonderful Caribbean fruit, for instance. (Or use the above innocuous weapons mentioned)
8. His “When Can You Claim Self-Defense”? Wildly context-dependent and not at all a general-scope. Always a case-by-case study. What is “an attack?” Even a push from a martial artist or pro fighter will justify lethal-force by blade?? Can you deploy from the position the attempted-rape is starting from, and with prior knowledge the known trusted entity perpetrating it will give sufficient time, motor skill, acknowledgement that now’s the correct-time for deployment?? And so-on-and-so-forth with likely 17 other questions I left out…
9. Again “Leaving the Scene of a Crime”, he’s openly advocating that you do something against the law and worry about it later. (precedence/negligence: negligence as a teacher should one of his students be in a bind legally, and definitely fodder should he actually need to use one-precedence…)
10. He owns 100 knives. That’ll look great for the defense attorney should he ever actually need one as well. There are knife-collectors that sincerely partake in that hobby legitimately, let’s keep perspective. However, when you like to announce it on social-media like that in the same breath as an offensive-knife-defense article, more than a little curious to any potential lawyers, jury members, judges, or police officers. Remember, they’re building a profile of you in their mind should you have used a blade in a self-defense environment…
11. “There seems to be a preference for some students to purchase expensive knives for their collection and to use a cheap knife for EDC. That’s beyond stupid, don’t be cheap, you need a dependable high quality knife – your life may depend on it.” (There’s a very specific reason for this, serious people who are actually authentically “in-the-shit” know why that is. He also just stated above that he’s now at the point that “but now, any knife that’s pointy and sharp is fine with me, in the end it’s just a tool”…so which one is it…I’m confused…
12. “Anytime you post your thumb or forefinger on top or on the side of the blade, you have already diminished your grip strength on the knife by more than 70%.” Well, actually that’s not true. Modern knives are actually made with grooves for this in-mind. The Filipinos (thumb on spine) and Argentineans (thumb on flat, and both with palm-reinforcement (even on long handles) to stabilize grip) use different grips and have traditionally come from knife cultures that utilize these as they reinforce cutting power/trajectory/accuracy of targeting and solidify grip for striking. I’ve test-cutted tons using both of these and have never, ever dropped a live blade while doing so. There are tons of documented prison/historical knife fights that reinforce this method in both countries, remembering that both originated from Spanish swordsmanship/fencing, whose dueling culture goes back centuries. (But, hey, right….)
13. His link to grip-research is broken/doesn’t exist so seemingly nothing to back his points there…
14. “however some individuals need knife skills NOW and neither have the time nor interest in learning the stick.” Why? Whom? Not the military, they so rarely need knife-fighting that it’s hardly mentionable outside of triviality. The new martial-arts belt program from Matt Larsen doesn’t even have knife in the curriculum, to my knowledge. Cops? Heavy legal liability. Bouncers? I wonder what their employers would say regarding that liability issue. Civilians? Why do they need these skills NOW? You really think government agents/private-security/bodyguards will use a knife as a go-to weapon wshtff? Really? I’d think there are tons of lower-key, publically-innocuous, attention-deficient (and more immediately-effective) tools they’d sooner carry so as not to draw public/legal/professional scrutiny. Maybe just me. (And then there’s your statement about, if you end up in that situation in these professions, you’re probably shit at your job) Also, see my above #2 for shutdown-potential issue.
15. “Many criminals have openly admitted that they prefer not to target someone who seems to be aware of their surroundings.” (Yup. Many have also admitted they don’t give a fuck if the person’s aware of their surroundings. They pick a target and commit to it. Small sheepish women can be aware of their surroundings. Disabled and aged folk as well. Slumping, seemingly-weak, undeveloped men as well. So what.) My recent event also could be added here.
16. “The only way to recognize an attack is to maintain constant vigilance and awareness…” Really. So he recommends being hyper-vigilant. Jacked and tuned-in 24/7. First of all, that’s simply not at all achievable physiologically. And here’s betting he dies of heart-problems and stress-related body shutdown long before that fucking knifer ever decides to come around. Be tranquilo, normal, unnoticeable…until it’s time not to be. I believe that being hyper-vigilant also draws far more unneeded attention than being attentive to pertinent information when it arises. I’m not tuned-in all day, until I notice something important and contextually-odd that I need to be tuned-in about.
17. In his “Stances” commentary, he mocks the WW2 knife-hand back methodology. They were at war. The knife-hand back was to protect the blade and make sure it entered into an unarmed or attacking opponent and control distance while doing so. They weren’t fucking dueling. And a kill in that environment was somewhat more justified than civilian training that he’s discussing.
18. His #1 point in stances, sounds like potential murder to me. Jus’ sayin’. Legal thing again and all.
19. Regarding “stab vs. slash”, he should read Darren Laur’s articles on this from ER doctors actually authenticated and legitimized. (not anecdotal or mentioned in passing) They say something quite different, including regarding the throat. The book from Michael Janich on contemporary knife-targeting as well has some documented information in this regard. Medically-viable information and backed, might I add…
20. I think he means “biomechanical” (cutting muscles/tendons/ligaments) cutting. “Biometric” is the use of statistical data to identify a person based on specific personal traits.
21. “The fighter ran away as fast as he could – as he should have” (This was in #6 down page 2, but above that a few paragraphs he said you shouldn’t run away at top-speed, you should jog because top-speed pools blood to the torso and causing fumbling and tripping. Weird. Wonder regardless of jogging/running flat-out, if you’re disabled, infirm, injured, slow, out-of-shape, aged, less-fast-than-Johnny-Knifeattacker, with family….what then…)
Anyways, listen, as mentioned, he does actually have some good advice to be found in here, some of which I agree with, to be sure. It’s certainly not all bad and he’s at least thought some of it through instead of the usual die-in-Valhalla-kill-‘em-all garbage we so often see. But, to be honest, I hate “how-to” articles like this. Bloody-well hate them. Context is predominantly invisible here, as it is in so many others. Vacant. Experience(s) is(are) different. Circumstances change rapidly. What works for one doesn’t do so for others. And how-to editorials get people killed, I find. Often quite efficiently.
I also refuse (at least anymore, if I ever actually did) to write articles on knife-fighting or knife-culture or knife-training. I don’t want any of it down on paper, should that event ever occur for real, and it’s not entirely out-of-the-realm of possibility for me, if we’re being honest. Maybe I’m subtle that way but I don’t talk shit online for very specific purpose. These articles are actually a prototype for what I’ve long was tried to explain on content from RBSD folk recently. I refuse to call what I do RBSD anymore. I simply do not want to be affiliated with stuff like this.
Taking all this into consideration, I’d like you, the reader, to see these articles as a point/counter-point investment. Think hard and analyze deeply on all elements of carrying a knife for self-defense purposes. Note that I am not against doing so by any stretch (as many know about me) but I DO think that some deep assessment – far more than most give it and definitely more than is present here – is a prerequisite for doing so. Compare perspectives and make an advised decision on what’s best for you and your family. These will be long reads but you may get an education on knife-carry and your decision(s) to do so.
I’m going to leave this in its original form for posterity-sake. It was written very shortly after it happened, when back at home, when everything was still fresh. Part 2 the day after. Part 3 today, 2 days post-event. I haven’t altered anything so as to keep first-assessment as-is without any foggy post-event opinions or buffed-up hyperbole we all tend to add to build our credibility or capability.
So this legitimately happened today. We were marked. I held my regular Sunday morning class, my wife and son picked me up and we went to the park/market in San Jose. We were walking the streets for about 30 minutes and had just finished stopping for a quick coffee break. I had been talking with my wife, joking with my son, and sporadically interacting with Mr. Kovacs via Messenger about “shop”. Returning from where we came, we passed a guy who immediately jumped out and off the page to me. He looked at me, I acknowledged but something DID NOT sit right. I looked over my shoulder and he was still stopped and staring. We kept walking and I subtly turned around again about 50 meters up the road. Still staring. After that he started following us, I was sure of it.
So, I stopped at various points using counter-surveillance techniques. Utilizing apertures and angles and the crowd to get a clear view and confirm my inner-feeling. I caught sight of him and he froze, not thinking he’d be caught. He then turned around and started walking back from the direction he came, constantly looking over his shoulder. Here’s where the details drew immediate alarm-bells. He was “well”-dressed, by which I mean his hair was slicked-back with gel, he had a sport-t on, revealing a well-framed and muscular torso, had a well-coiffured goatee that had been well-maintained, dark clean pants….and he was carrying a plastic-bag “at the handle.”
Now, the first part of that paragraph tells me he’s not some low-level bum on the street looking for a quick robbery or mugging…it tells me there’s something more. The fact he turned around when busted tells me he’s not looking for a fight. The plastic-bag tells me something more ominous. I told my wife in a low, calm voice “It’s time to go. Now.” Now, my wife is pretty damn calm herself in these situations, surprisingly so. She looked at me, grabbed my son’s hand and we started down the street as he continued to follow as I coached her along the way. Stopping near LE whenever we saw them at corners…subtly but in direct vicinity. (They won’t do shit here but most hard-criminals don’t want witnesses of that variety) We meshed in to crowds where visibility would be difficult….in front of a group of women, a rather large/overweight guy and his equally overweight wife, into a group of people watching a small kids’ Spiderman dress-up, around corners where sight-out from pillars and angles made it hard to see back.
As we made our way back to the car, he appeared again, having circled-back around from a few blocks down. I caught sight him again before he caught us. I crossed the street with the 2 within vision of 2 street-cops standing kitty-corner. He paused again, seemingly a little confused, before turning a corner with a fence. Looking through the fence, I saw him digging around in the plastic-bag. By then I already had the blade I was carrying out quickly and my wife immediately grabbed my son’s hand and started making her way to the car. I palmed and he looked at me directly as I faced him, with people walking in-between us in both directions.
At this point, I felt like ice. I was fully-adrenalized and blank emotionally, I remember it clearly. But super-, super-calm. Very on-top-of my physiological response and intimately familiar with each change or additional trait. No emotion, no reflexive panic-breathing, truly entirely void. He crossed the street and started moving away from us. I made my way back to my family and we moved toward where the car was parked down the street. I told my wife and son to get in the car and start it up. Meanwhile, I found a subtle vantage-point to see if had re-engaged. Seemingly that was not the case. I did very clearly sense that there was an acknowledgement from him that this was not going to be an easy target. I made that very clear in a number of intentional ways without confrontation or engagement. (subliminal-messaging, calm, palming, some clear counter-surveillance ability, self-control, deceiving/misleading tactics)
I knew this predator immediately when I saw him. I was NOT drawing unnecessary attention to myself and my family but, when you know what to look for… I do not know what his actual intent was, but it wasn’t good and it wasn’t innocuous or low-level. This was a high-order guy. It was a rather stark reminder that, contrary to many who live in a self-defense dome where no real danger ever really threatens their day-to-day, I’m still a Canadian living in Central America and there are simply some realistic threats that are present here that there aren’t back North-America side. Anywho, we’re all fine and back home. Charged and a little high from the post-kick but all’s well. Wanted to get it down while the details were fresh and clear and not made foggy over by worn-away adrenaline, time, and my own hyperbole or self-aggrandizing bullshit.
*I’m also leaving this documentation for any potential criminal, legal, or self-defense issues that may arise from this or future incident pertaining to this. But not the least to protect my wife and son from continual exposure and re-hashing negative memories by seeing incessant talk on the event. By password-protecting, it also allows me to keep tabs on who’s reading the content.
As mentioned, I believe there are 3 possibilities as to motive here:
A serial-predator looking for a mark. Violence for the sake of violence, mental-issues, violent-robbery, murder, rape, foreigner-resentment, process-predator…who knows. These are the 2 highest-percentage, most logical possibilities. The one I’m having trouble getting out of my mind to this point:
Something else, something even worse.
Now, after brainstorming with Mr. Kipp about the rarity of this whole situation and joining heads, I think there’s a 4th option here a well. This had the signs of both predation and territorialism. (which is seemingly rare out in public-forum, in broad daylight, with tons of other people around. It is possible and a theory that hold some merit that he saw another “predator” (maybe) that acknowledged him and he didn’t like being spotted for fear of exposure. That one has crossed my mind, maybe it’s a leap, but it’s worth exploring. It might explain both the reason/place he stopped pursuit and his seeming lack-of-will to engage directly or aggressively.
Some final post-event analysis before this becomes an old wives’ tale and forever-glorified game of telephone:
*My senses super-heightened since, extremely tuned-in and noticing things instinctively without effort. Amazingly-clear and cognitive. Absolute flow and without effort. In-the-zone. It’s also the reason I’m exhausted as it continues 24/7 and I have not slept since with any consistency. I’m attuned to the slightest sounds, movements, oddities. A mistake was also not doing something intensely-physical immediately afterward to burn-off the lats of the day’s adrenaline, but it was late, we were tired, and had guests arriving. I was aware of this at the time. It’s Wednesday now and exhausted.
*I’ve noticed distinct adrenaline phases, post-event. The immediate one that allowed fantasically-enhanced ability to act, react, decide, adapt, and strategize on-the-fly…..and do so correctly. The secondary evening one that got me jacked-up and hypervigilant and needed calming and controlling. (breathing, meditation, a cigarette and a beer) Remembering micro-details and play-out that had been discarded or ignored during the event. And the one the following day upon acknowledgement of the seriouness and dangerousness of the threat itself. Each dump was harder to contain and manage the further away from the threat, which was curious. All together have resulted in a roughly 24-30 period of exhaustion. Lethargy. Perpetual tiredness. (of course, coupled with sleeplessness and anxiety) I’m only now getting back into the normal rhythm of things.
*What I call “satelliting.” Covering any peripheral occurrances in our lives leading-up. People who’ve come into any recent money in our peripheral day-to-day. Recently seen people of importance or negativity or animosity. Clothing worn the day-of. Reviewing of any pictures we took of the day. If anyone was told prior to our day’s events in-advance. People in our periphery acting different the following days. Not to judge, assume, or accuse but just to ensure there are no connecting-dots or make note of strange coincidences. To file-away for future-reference should future events happen. Covering bases.
*Considering our type of work, hours, and places-frequented, it’s not hard to change patterns, routes, and routines. The key is knowing which to change, when, why, how, and what to look for when done. We’ve also alerted appropriate people in our day-to-day about what happened and what to change themselves in the coming days. There are strategies to utilize here for monitoring potential tails (forced “intersections” of choice for followers /mnemonics for remembering order of cars-colors behind you/detours/speed alterations, etc.), counter-surveillance, and altering daily patterns and habit but, another article or refer to some on these topics from past articles.
*My instincts were deadly-accurate throughout. Calm, complex-motor skills entirely intact (knife-deployment, holding coffee as but 2 examples and noting that this was a slow-burn adrenal-release), heavy-adrenaline but very controlled physiology, no or minimal shakes. To all my previous theories on innate-survival skill and appropriate-response and heightened capability….this would all seem to be a testament to that, as I’ve experienced in multiple episodes here through the years. I’ve been stalked/followed twice previously, been marked by a mentally-disturbed man on the train, physically-attacked outright multiple times at previous SD/MA seminars, had an attempted robbery at the house in broad-daylight while at home, aggressive/violence-threatening guests…and another major event I won’t be mentioning here due to legal repercussions. All held true in those instances as well. We seem to respond accordingly to the level-of-threat presented. This is also why so many people look so dreadfully-awful in bar fights or confrontations over pride, ego, or machismo. Maybe our body simply knows when to “crank-it-up.”
*It’s truly hard to tell how much of my response was training-based, how much was conditioning-based, how much was intinctive-survival-based. I think after a point it’s irrelevant. I can honestly acknowledge all 3 being present if breaking it down. After a time it’s simply an “us” response. A “Darren” or “Richard” or “George” response. An accummulated response based on instinct, experience/experiences, conditioning, environment, training, exposure, etc. Thus, forever and again, bringing us further and further away from any relevance in particular style, system, art, or method – though some methods certainly have validity than others, coupled with instructor.
*These are the times in my life where I can honestly say I feel somewhat like an SME with all this shit, without being the least bit cocky. In-control of my own toolbox. A cumulative of knowledge and ability working in-unison to keep my family safe under major duress, all coming-together when needed. Not in the dojo, during seminars, online, talking shop. Maybe a it should be and the only place it holds sway. If we always succeed in #2 but “fail” every time #1 creeps up…
Now I’m putting this to bed discussion-wise, for mental well-being and psychological-health purposes.
On adrenaline, note that some memories come back that are foggy or blanked-out due to the adrenal-stress. They do help dissect the event and give clarity to what happened, aiding us in data-collection and decision-making for future reference and incidents. They also can aid in solving motivation, tactics, and methods.
It’s important, for those following and learning that aren’t exposed to adrenal-stress with any regularity as well, that some reactions we do under duress are unexplainable at the time. We don’t know why we do them…but they’re done for very specific reasons due to our innate survival skills and we only acknowledge them later on. They come from training, exposure/experience, nature/nurture, environment or combinations thereof. We remember and assess them post-event. I’ll discuss those that were present in this event below.
It’s normal to forget some things, which is why it’s important to process and analyze later as the adrenaline wear-off what those things were and whether they were successful or not.
When another person is involved, that added benefit of cross-referencing and comparing and mixing-and-matching is invaluable in remembering minutiae that one alone might not.
After cross-referencing and deep-memory accessing when the adrenaline started to wear-off, some other details were brought back to the surface:
-a clown was pressuring us to buy his balloons earlier, then as we were in-motion away from the threat, started pressuring to buy again, but more intensely. I remember clearly telling him to “fuck-off” and telling my wife to keep moving, as any distraction while moving I take as a potential affiliate and will act accordingly. It may have been entirely coincidental…but it was a detail nonetheless and something to make note of in hindsight
-I remember seeing a tall, thin guy with shades and a similar black t-shirt pop-up 3 times during the departure, again…maybe coincidental…maybe not. I know he was omnipresent in my mind as anybody who I remember multiple times that catches my eye is avoided and made note of, whether threat or not. Shades also hide intent and attention so it’s hard to tell if he was focusing on us, but his repeated visual was peculiar
-I cannot say whether I saw the plastic bag with the guy upon earlier visuals or if he may have picked it up along the way. I can remember now that right before the last time we saw him, he had his right-hand in the bag (right-handed), the other holding his “bag-wrist”…so it had some weight to it
-Whether he saw me deploy weapon or not, I was not entirely subtle with my draw, very likely for a reason. The presentation, void-look, and my serious intent was probably unconsciously-designed to intimidate and de-motivate – it worked as he departed and that was the last time we saw him. He was 30-35 years old and, as mentioned, his clothing, facial hair, and build stood-out immediately as being an alarm in this particular area. He was well-defined, black hair and goatee, both well-coiffued and maintained, all in black
son listened intently, which is neither easy nor regular at his age. He clearly
knew something was amiss and acted obediently, full marks and I plan on
discussing this with him tomorrow.
-If I’m assured that there’s a weapon present, I don’t pay much attention to calloused hands or signs of fight-experience, if being honest. I simply pay attention to hand-movement and location. I’m weapon-aware more than fight-experience-aware and once a weapon is identified as even a potential entry into any violent conflict, that should take precedence over any assessments on fight capability.
-I remember not wanting to tell any of the omnipresent LE (law-enforcement) about this, even though they were omnipresent as a) it may motivate the person more intensely after we’re again on our own and b) I was unconsciously concerned that some area-LE might be involved in some way. I wanted the heat – my family, who better to protect them than me.
had just gotten coffee and it was lidded and extremely-hot. I remember my wife
telling me to take off the lid in case we needed a projectile but coffee cools
super-quick without the lid and in open-areas with a breeze. I told her no as
he wasn’t in-proximity and I wanted the coffee steaming-hot.
-My wife remembers
telling my son immediately before the event that if anyone tried to take him
that he needed to fight and scream. Such an interesting tidbit on reflection,
that she said it at that very moment. Intuition? Irony? Who’s to say..
Yes, it was high-order and extremely-dangerous….this guy had committed violence and victimized before, I knew it innately. Through and through. Abductions and hits are both not uncommon here. I do know he was a serial-predator who was “misplaced” there and this was definitely his hunting ground.
I am documenting
this as a post-incident reference-point for accuracy, for a potential legal
document, for posterity, and for learning/studying purposes of others’
survival-plan. I believe there are 3 possibilities as to motive here:
A serial-predator looking for a mark. Violence for the sake of violence, mental-issues, violent-robbery, murder, rape, foreigner-resentment, process-predator…who knows. These are the 2 highest-percentage, most logical possibilities. The one I’m having trouble getting out of my mind to this point:
A hit from people who would like to see bad things happen to us, of which there are some we’re aware of.
What’s something we both agree on is that this was an attempt on one or more of our lives and was treated as such.
This’ll be relatively short as it’s Friday and I’m on-the-clock. We hear with regularity that “training can’t replicate reality”….and “what happens in the dojo isn’t like the street”….and “you can’t duplicate the physiological responses that real confrontation/violence produces.” And the street. And the street. And the street. Etc. etc. etc. Ad infinitum. On-and-on. Forever and a day. Blah, blah, bl….I know what happens on “the street”….I’ve been there, as have others.
Yes, this is 100% true…but have you ever assessed the perspective of these remarks? They’re almost always in a condescending, demeaning, negative light. As in, the people that would, could, might, may attack you will have this as their benefit and advantage. That everything changes dynamically because “they” dictate the playing field. Yet….if we’re trying to empower and embolden our students, do we not do them some kind of psychological, emotional, mental, spiritual disservice by constantly planting this little unhelpful seed in the back of their subconscious?
Those above remarks may well be true…but that means they are also true for us, not just those we may potentially face in scaling and varying consequences. Why is it perpetually “them”?
Here’s the truth of the matter. It’s not. We ALL have 2-3 extra gears when we leave the comforts of our training. All of us. We can all learn to turn it up on command. We can all crank-up the aggression and intensity. And we all have innately another level of violence within our internal animal when it’s needed. This bears itself out in countless survival stories. I know it first-hand from both reality and intensive training/conditioning. There’s an internal restraint button when the fire is partially friendly. It’s inevitable. The people we train with are generally people we like, are there to aid our improvement, and are most often respected cohorts. If not, we won’t be training with them for long.
On the anecdotal side, I once was challenged by 2 friends….both well-trained. To let go and release to really test my intensity levels during training. Both had 20-25 years martial experience and sufficient street experience. The caveats were that it was regarding groundfighting (I had ample experience, they did not) but I could let loose. They had protection so the element of restraint was lifted with their safety. What happened change my training forever.
The truth is, I can be extremely violent. Uncontainably so. An animal none of you will EVER see in training. The thing you see in front of you on the floor is simply not the thing you’ll see if you attack my wife or hurt my child or think of taking me away from my family. It’s another monster entirely. As it is for every. Single. One. Of. Us. We are not our training. Nor our training identity. Many of this sometimes confuse this….that if tap someone out repeatedly, or outbox them, or get more points consistently in the stick/knife-fight that this somehow represents when shit-hits-the-fan. Don’t buy it. It’s a fallacy. The truth is that much training out there actually inhibits this mental-cultivation, takes it away in the name of dogma, systemics, and
Anyways, back to the anecdote. I let loose. Growling, snarling, biting, tearing, clawing, eyes rolled back in head, aggression let loose. They were fully-engaged and resistant, trying maximally to pin me, restrain me, contain me. I tapped both out 3 times each. Each. Without being stopped. And I’ve replicated that result when pushed to do so from others wanting legitimacy and reaffirmation. Now, I realize this sounds like showing my plumage….but if I have it, really don’t we all? The only question is whether we have it hidden way deep down, how it’s accessible, and how we cultivate it when accessed. When developing fighting-intensity and survival-mindset for 20 years, it’s been explored on some level, at minimum so the consciousness that it’s THERE is present. But it’s there in all of us. We ALL have 2-3 gears higher when push-comes-to-shove and our very survival is in the balance. From conditioning. Nature. Usage. Environment. Any number of ways or combination of way. It’s there. So stop allowing the “experts” to tell you it’s always the other guy/girl that’s got it and you need to plan accordingly. I worry about me. My state. My mind. My capability. My terms. If I’m on top of “me” and “my game”, I don’t need to be constantly paranoid of “them.” I control my destiny.
"Un-Hammering Nails: a cerebral approach to personal preservation, self-defense, combatives, and martial arts.