Street Survival

Street Survival
© Copyright 2016, Tim Boehlert

If you want to step up your game, improve your security stance, and increase your chance of surviving a violent encounter, you owe it to yourself and your family to educate yourself. Reading ‘Street Survival: Tactics for Armed Encounters’ by Charles Remsberg would make a great start.

It was first published in 1980 for the Law Enforcement Community, and I am assuming that it was written after too many Police Officers had been killed in the line of duty. Studies had been conducted that found their mistakes and identified the source of many of those mistakes made.

This book also served to launch a travelling road-show called Street Survival, which sought to correct a lot of the common mistakes that officers had made in the field. To that end, the Street Survival series of books served for many years as required reading in many academies.

I was lucky enough about 6 years ago to come across more than one reference to these ‘lost’ books while doing my own research to keep myself safe. These books contain a lot of great information. In these books you will find much of what we study and take for granted today. The adage, “Study the Old, to Understand The New” applies here. We didn’t invent this stuff.

One of the biggest challenges of learning anything is that you need to look behind the curtain and question many aspects of it – why does it work, what makes it work, why is that knowledge perhaps more important than the knowledge itself? If you want to learn anything, take ownership for your own endeavors and effort. Ultimately, only you are responsible for you. Own that.

Much of what we train today is not new, or original as you may be led to believe. Exploring older books can lead you to some ‘new discoveries’, tactics, techniques, philosophies, and principles. This book is 36 years old, and yet there is a ton of relevant information in it that still applies and holds up today.

Below I’ve highlighted just a portion of what I think is still relevant and useful for self-defense, and I hope you do too!

Some of the many ideas found within the first volume of this series and which are worth reiterating here are:

  • The combination for survivability in the street is a combination of your abilities and what you have been taught. That is NOT a one-way street. You will be provided with only so much based on budgetary restrictions, the rest is on you. Too many professionals rely strictly on what they will be provided by their employer. In our world, that’s you. You may need to justify what you think is a reasonable amount of funding to keep yourself and your clan safe, but don’t sell that short.

Here’s an example: I work five days a week trying to keep myself safe, my company safe, and our clientele safe. I spend annually between $1k-$2k to achieve that goal. That money is mostly for training. That training consists of books, videos, and seminars primarily. This fits my needs, but does not maximize them necessarily. This will hold true for all of us. BUT, I am making the effort to keep my education moving forward, and ever expanding, and honing in on specific skill-sets that I require due to environmental needs. That leaves holes in my plan that you could drive a semi through, but that’s life. You can’t possibly plan for everything, but if you can narrow down your specific threats, you can assure that you will prevail under those sets of circumstances, and MAY be prepared for others based on your learning.

  • Just because it hasn’t happened doesn’t mean it won’t or that it won’t happen to you. Complacency affects all of us in some way. Don’t let it settle in. Don’t tell yourself a story that just because statistics say it’s likely to never happen that it won’t or that you aren’t the one it will happen to. Take a reality check and let that sink in. You, and only you are responsible for yourself.
  • Be prepared. Again, that falls into several categories, but in my opinion being prepared mentally is at the top of that list. This covers awareness, but it also covers physical and emotional realms as well. Don’t be that guy/gal.
  • You don’t get to decide what the BG (Bad Guy) is going to do, UNLESS you can. Violence is a very broad set of rules and you don’t get to know which ones are in effect, nor which ones will be on the table when the SHTF. Know what you don’t know, and be good with that. Make peace with that and move forward with your plan to shut it down.
  • Come to terms with your moral and psychological considerations BEFORE you get into it. Really spend some time examining yourself and your capabilities and responsibilities. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Just because you should, is it legally justifiable? Spend a lot of your time doing what-if scenarios in your head – where it’s safer to make mistakes.
  • Force is not the answer to everything – there are alternatives that you need to arm yourself with. Learn some basic verbal skills, de-escalation, tactical communications, verbal judo – it’s all about NOT having to use your physical abilities on another, and it’s legally your required first step of use-of-force when it’s applicable.
  • What you think about violence isn’t necessarily the reality of what it will be – for you. Many things happened during ‘an event’ that you haven’t even begun to consider. Add to that mixture the fact that you haven’t practiced much of what you know nearly enough to handle this situation. Throw in your reactions – chemical dump, emotional upheaval, environmental booby-traps, multiple goals, etc… it gets complicated in the blink of an eye, and a lot goes through your head or it doesn’t. Have you prepared yourself for any of that?
  • “Training to face reality takes extra time, extra energy, extra creativity.” A direct quote from Charles Remsberg. It’s not only important in formal training, but in what you do everyday. You need to make the effort to move yourself forward on your own time as well as when you’re ‘in play.’
  • Have you truly assessed your capabilities and your dependence or independence of deploying a weapon? Do you know your weapon intimately? Do you know your ability to use that weapon on another human being intimately? Do you understand the aftermath? Some very heady things to work on, now!
  • Hands. They are what will hurt you. Agreed, but there is a larger picture to consider as well – being blind-sided is one of those possibilities. You can’t always be ON, but you need to raise your level of awareness, and educate yourself on everything that MAY keep you safe. Whether it’s learning more about knives and knifers, or guns – handguns, long-guns, ammunition. Try to educate yourself to the extent that your friends will get a little uncomfortable about how much you know and the things that you find interesting. THEN you might be ahead of the game, just a little.
  • Educate yourself not just in Martial Arts, but also in Military Martial Arts, and Police Marital Arts. Learn about the OODA loop, about the Awareness Color Code. OODA alone will make you more capable IF you have digested it, and keep it in the forefront of your mind.
  • Practice is always good, and the more realistic it can be, within reason where injuries are uncommon, but not unexpected, but it’s not the same thing. Realize that it’s not real, but a pale substitute. It’s not like being there, and doing it. There are many, many aspects of being there and doing it that you’ll only get after you’ve been there and done that, that’s when all of the training starts to make sense, to make you go back and revisit or reassess.
  • You will find that one guy that is willing to die rather than to submit. Have you even considered that his goal is not your goal?
  • Don’t be afraid to criticize yourself. We’ve all done it. Try not to be your own worst critic, but take a healthy dose of ‘I told you so…’ and learn from it, move forward.
  • Keep moving. Don’t wait for reaction or results. MAKE results happen. Overwhelm and win.
  • Weapons – study them, get intimate. Learn as much as possible, for you may end up having one in your hands when you least expect it.
  • Study your adversary. Learn what makes him tick, try to put yourself in his/her shoes, and understand what their motivations may be. Study your enemy, for they’ve already studied you.
  • Learn your targeting. Understand as much as possible what the right target is and what the right weapon is for that target. The goal is usually to stop the violence as quickly as possible, but do you have a solid legal foundation for that goal? Is this social or asocial violence? The targets and tools will be different perhaps?
  • Train under stress, fear if possible. No one can really tell you what that is like – it’s different for everyone, and likely different under every circumstance.
  • ‘Practice at surviving.’ Don’t become complacent.
  • ‘Patterns of instruction’ should ‘match patterns of encounter’ – train for the most likely encounters?
  • Under the stress of combat, and that’s what fighting encompasses, you will ‘revert without thinking to the habits you have learned in training.’ Agreed, and one important thing to consider here – if it isn’t working, move on. Don’t be the guy that continues to repeat the same ‘move’ and expects different results.
  • Don’t fight like you train, and therein lies the rub. As an example, don’t spar. Sparring trains into you some very bad habits – pulling your strikes – only hitting at X% of power, stopping after scoring a point, and other ‘rules’ that will work against you. It may cost you dearly. This also includes – don’t WAIT for results – keep moving, keep doing damage until the threat stops.
  • Learn about spatial relationships – proximity. Test your variables; test your ability to work within certain distances and environmental constrictions. Rory Miller is a proponent of ‘In Fighting’ – I’d only heard that once before in my years of training, and it didn’t make sense the first time, until I explored the larger possibilities behind that simple phrase. Explore.
  • Most confrontations are over quickly – seconds at best. Work smartly within that time constraint. Work to that goal as well.
  • Reaction to recognition is key to victory. The quicker you can respond, the better your chances are. Get beyond the DENIAL hurdle and you’re over the first large hurdle in your way. This takes practice, practice, practice. It starts with excellent awareness, and anticipation. Don’t daydream when you’re ‘on.’
  • Don’t expect your assumed authority to work in your favor – bouncer, security, owner, etc… that may be the impetus to action and the fuel for the fire that is about to light you up.
  • Criminals train more than you do, most likely.
  • Don’t expect rationality or compassion from your opponent.
  • Their desperation and your constraints are not equal but are opposing forces internally.
  • Don’t hesitate to act based on what you think. Your gut feeling may be the only thing that saves you. For the uninitiated, read Gavin de Becker’s ‘THE GIFT.’
  • If you are to survive, you need to be aggressive, and take chances.
  • Don’t give up. It’s been proposed that many officers died in the line-of-duty because they ‘thought’ they were going to based on some subconscious ‘understanding.’ Being hurt is not the same as being out of the fight. It’s time for Plan B!
  • Never let your guard down. Even if you’ve overcome one or many opponents/ threats, don’t become blasé about your abilities to overcome. Always be vigilant. There is always someone that will surprise you and possibly defeat you. Be realistic, not complacent.
  • You should walk out of your house/business with survival as the most important thing on your mind.
  • ‘Let the circumstances dictate the tactics, not vice versa.’ That is so true!
  • Always be rehearsing mentally. It’s as important if not more-so than hitting the gym or the Dojo, in my opinion. As an example, I have personally watched a video on a specific technique, that I only mentally rehearsed before having to actually deploy it, on more than one occasion. In Japanese culture, I believe that that is referred to as Mushin – without mind. It works, and don’t let anyone persuade you otherwise. Your mind is your best tool – develop it. Survival instinct is strong, and your mind WILL take over when all else fails.
  • “Whenever possible, you want to cultivate tactics that are unexpected, to be ‘systematically unsystematic.'” HUH? Yeah, something more for you to explore! Have fun!
  • There will always be a clue, if you’re aware, that it’s about to go down. Learn those clues – body language, non-verbals, physiology. If you have a better understanding of your opponent, knowing them perhaps more intimately, you have your baseline to gauge by, otherwise… pay attention and look for the subtle, micro clues.
  • “Uneventful familiarity breeds complacency.” Just because it hasn’t happened, doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t. Keep your wall up!
  • Keep your head on a swivel and your ears on. Always be ‘scanning.’
  • Watch for the ‘grooming’ or ‘comfort’ touch – signs of nervousness. Grooming is done to comfort the person doing the grooming, perhaps to work up the courage to strike. A Comfort touch is to reassure the threat that his weapon is still there.
  • Always look for the most likely places that someone would carry a weapon when being approached. Do it to everyone to stay in practice and make it a part of what you do as your norm.
  • Keep a safety zone around you at all times. They have suggested 36″. I think it depends on you solely, and whom you face.
  • “Repetition of good tactics forms good tactical habits.” Amen, right?
  • Control what you can.
  • “Human nature is very predictable.” Maybe in context, or maybe if you have studied it in depth. I think otherwise mostly sometimes. Does that even make sense?
  • “You must be ready to execute it without hesitation.” In the context of use of force – you must commit fully once you have decided to act. Totally agree. I have done otherwise, and not gotten what should have been expected results. If you don’t fully commit, then you are holding back. If you hold back, you lose advantage. If you lose advantage, you also lose surprise. It’s a crapshoot after that. Good luck, you’ll need it!

tim@avinardia.com

Can We Tax or Legislate Away Intent?

Can We Tax or Legislate Away Intent?

I found this quote on Tony Blauer’s FaceBook wall this morning, that ties in directly with some thoughts that I’d had yesterday after addressing another quote that I also found on FaceBook and that I was compelled to respond to.:

“I don’t believe in Violence
               I don’t Worship Violence
               I just Practice it
Because I know others Live through Destruction
              And I want to be Prepared When Our Paths Cross.
              People will vilify us, we know who we are though,
and why we do what we do!”
              Unknown

With all of the nonsense that surrounds each active-shooter event, I feel I have to keep putting counter responses out there to defend my position and my thoughts on the subject – to try and push education on people that aren’t ‘getting it.’ I’m often correcting lies, countering anti-gun rhetoric, defending my views on violence, and explaining the realities from a more informed position.

Our world has changed. Very specifically here in America it has started to go off the rails. There are many signs to that end, and it is all driven by agendas, hidden or otherwise. In my opinion, the media has been the primary perpetrator in that it continues to push its political agendas about guns, gun laws and gun ownership. But, it’s now also pushing its anti-police agenda, hard and often. The events, although related through a common element – guns, have raised the level of fear, and in doing so, have also allowed and even encouraged stupidity and outright deceit.

The media is shaping a whole generation to push their agenda that will set us up for failure, and relieve us of our rights, the right to own and bear arms. Not everyone is buying into this, but the fight is on. The propaganda war is getting heated, and they seem to have more money and thus influence on their side.

This week the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre, was vilified as a terrorist on the front page of a major newspaper – alongside the images of several of the recent terrorists that were involved with mass-murders committed on U.S. soil. How has the media gone from responsible, professional reporting to pushing lies and deceit over the last 50 years?

This type of ‘reporting’ influences it’s readership, and is really nothing more than propaganda to push an agenda – outlaw guns and gun ownership. By using tragic events (read: highly emotionally charged) the media have over the last few years started a downward trend that seeks to strip Americans of their rights to bear firearms. Additionally they have gone after our law enforcement personnel – our Police agencies.

After a bank-robbery in Los Angeles, where the perpetrators wore full-body armor, and had prepared themselves with a lot of ammunition, automatic and semi-automatic weapons including long-guns, law enforcement assessed and evaluated the outcome and determined that they were outgunned, plain and simple. Two men were able to take on the Los Angeles Police Department and surrounding agencies and walk out of the bank and proceed to attempt to escape – even after thousands of rounds were expended to prevent them from doing so. Yes, they were outgunned, even though they had far superior numbers.

Since that time police agencies have geared up, trained up and prepared for events like that. Now with terrorism on our minds, the people have determined that maybe the police shouldn’t have access to militarized vehicles that the government kindly provided to them. Maybe ‘we’ should limit how much ammunition can be purchased, or the capacities of ammo magazines, and take back those vehicles that would protect our police – ‘we’ don’t want our police militarized!

I get some of that, but a lot of it makes my head spin. Understand that I am a lawful registered gun owner, but I don’t consider myself a gun nut at all. In fact, I seriously considered selling my firearm this year – after lawfully owning firearms for over 25 years! Recent events have convinced me otherwise. I am not overly pro-active, and don’t actively carry even though it’s within my right to do so when I’m off-duty. It makes me uncomfortable doing so – I have been swayed by public perception and opinion!

I allowed myself to be tempered by the opinions of others years ago when I was actively carrying. When some ‘friends’ found out, they’d go out of their way to draw attention to my weapon, or to the fact that I was armed. Not cool. Not cool at all. Instead of pushing back, I retired my sidearm to a closet. “Are you carrying?” “Got your gun on you tonight? in public, and in front of others to boot!

Well, times have changed, and the recent event in San Bernardino, California has gotten me to thinking once again. And I’m not alone. This week, the Sheriff of Ulster County, NY posted a ‘call to arms’ – he actually came out and asked gun owners to consider carrying their weapons in public. His rationale? If even one lawfully armed person is able to respond to an active-shooter before police can arrive, please do so.

[http://www.recordonline.com/article/20151203/NEWS/151209783]

Of course that raises a lot of red flags with the public! Suffice it to say that the floor is open, and the discussion is in full-swing! Others have followed suit.

I can see his point, and I can see the counter-points as well – it’s NOT easily solved.

I am not here to promote guns. I am here to promote smarter thinking though. Think about this for just a few minutes: would you allow a loved one to put themselves in harms way with no hope of survival? Well, you DO that every day. Someone you know, either directly or through your web of relationships will be THAT person: today, tomorrow if not next week, and very likely sometime this year. And you allow it to happen. Can you live with that? You have the ability to have your voice heard, the necessity to educate yourself further than what the media is providing you, and to change the outcome for many.

As the parent of a law enforcement officer, it’s hard to watch and not react. As one who is also responsible for the public-at-large, it’s mind-numbing how little security we can actually provide other than great customer service! We have almost no training, no real plan, and no pro-active stance. We are strictly in a reactive mode. That spells disaster If you ask me.

Why you may ask? There are many viewpoints. Consider this: guns make people uncomfortable, especially if it’s not in the holster of someone in uniform, but even then it makes you uncomfortable. Now consider this: how do you expect any of us to stop an armed assailant or multiple armed assailants without using equal or greater force?

Being responsible for the lives of thousands of people daily is becoming harder to do, and continuing to do the job is even harder to justify. My intent is to do whatever I am able to fulfill my commitment, but without the training, tools, and proper management structure and subsequent game-plans, you’re asking the impossible.

Let me share an incident in which I was placed just a few years ago. On our campus we had a possible active-shooter event. Someone had reported seeing a man outside one of our buildings, armed with what looked like a shotgun. Police were notified and responded. At least one officer was out on the grounds actively searching for the suspect – with his M5. The M5 is a tactical long-gun that our local PD was allocated for just-such events.

The campus was alerted via internal communications, we went into a very loose lockdown stance, and put a few of our officers out in harms way to actively search for this shooter. These men were not armed, nor trained to respond in this scenario, yet they did. I was asked to man a post in the area most likely for the shooter to target. I was ordered to sit in a lobby, near the front-door (mag locked), an all glass enclosure and instructed to watch four monitors that monitored the perimeter doors. Huh? Yeah, that was the stupidest thing I’d ever heard. ‘You want me to sit in front of a glass wall, and let you know when he’s AT the door?’ ‘How long do you think I will last?’ This was not a good idea by a very long stretch!

Of course, I did as I was told – that was the only thing I could do, morally.

So having been through that type of situation once, I can imagine more possible outcomes, and have had time to think about the whole event. I haven’t been able to better prepare, but maybe only mentally.

We can all imagine being a hero, but it’s not that at all. To me it’s about shutting down the violence, because that’s my vocation. It’s my duty. It’s the morally right thing to do. And I’m not alone. We do what we do for you, for your families, your friends, your neighbors.

If we’re willing to save your life, shouldn’t you at least allow us the tools necessary to do that? The training? And with a lot more understanding from you?

Yesterday, [12/03/2015], someone posted this quote on social media:

“We stopped cigarette advertising to prevent smoking, raised the cost of a pack
                 and taxed them to the sky perhaps the same can be done for guns… “

My two cents: Taxing or changing pricing will do nothing – if they’re desperate and resourceful enough, they will find a way, like smokers did and do, to use your analogy. Laws change nothing as well, in my opinion – only those willing to abide by them will adhere to them. My recollection of post-9/11 events: box cutters weren’t legislated out of existence. My proof is that I confiscate many each week from those individuals that try to bring them into our facility. It’s the INTENT and not the possession that is more of interest to me. Disarming US makes THEM more likely to use any means possible to do evil. I stand unarmed everyday to at least promote a vision of preparedness so that the public will feel a little more safe and at ease in a place that they SHOULD feel safe. Everyday I wonder – will it happen today? What will I do – with no training, no real support, no plan, and of course no ability to fight back that makes others feel comfortable. Guns makes people uncomfortable, but I see more knives everyday as a ‘norm’ – it’s part of our culture, and only recently has this become a social issue that raises alarm. The issue is too big for a few short ideas in a too-short forum such as this. Suffice it to say that I have to disagree based on my experience and knowledge. If we disarm ourselves, we surrender – which is what their goal has been since day one. Legislation will NOT change that. Propaganda – advertising or pre-legislation media blitzes are one and the same – selling an ideology for ‘our’ side. We’ve lost our morals, raised a generation of self-indulged children, and given EVERYONE the right to claim ‘I’m SPECIAL!” – without earning that and forget ever questioning that – that would be politically incorrect! I see bad behavior every – single – day. Entitlement ‘to do whatever I want, because….’ we need to change THAT. No laws will change someone unwilling to adhere to them, to respect them. It’s only their desire to do harm that gives them power over us while the rest of us line up like sheep… and strip away our rights and abilities to fight back, to defend, to live freely.

That’s how I responded to this particular post.

“I don’t believe in Violence

               I don’t Worship Violence
               I just Practice it
               Because I know others Live through Destruction
               And I want to be Prepared When Our Paths Cross.
               People will vilify us, we know who we are though, and why we do what we do!”

I do believe in violence – in the sense that it’s a real, and apparently a sustainable thing. I believe in it because I have taught myself to practice it, and to advance my understanding of it, to examine it as if it were a tangible object. Why you may ask? To me it is. It is like any other thing that we wish to study and understand. It’s always present. It’s always around us, and it always happens – every minute of the day. We don’t see or hear about all of it, nor even a great percentage of it, but it’s there, and it did happen.

When it does happen, and if it happens when and where I can affect an outcome, that is my job. That is my profession. Yes, it is a profession. And I do consider myself a professional whose specialty is violence. I am not alone.

I don’t worship violence. I don’t like it, and it makes me very uncomfortable thinking about it, let alone participating in it – willingly no less!

I do practice it.

I do consider myself a professional. It’s about acknowledging violence, and then addressing it. To address it means to study it, to then deploy it as a tool to overcome it, and then to learn from each and every use of force.

I reassess after each use of force, constantly questioning many aspects of what had occurred. Why? Did I respond professionally? Did I let emotion dictate the response? Was the response justifiable? Will I be able to defend my response? Do you see where I’m going with this?

In a nutshell, I am always more afraid of judgment and punishment for doing my job, than doing my job. I’m always more afraid of what others think than what I think. This world has changed us to the point that ‘politically-correctness’ has turned into the auto-correct for the millenniums. We attempt to fix things using man-made algorithms – i.e., if a gun was involved, it’s the GUN that is at fault, not the shooter. Does this make sense?

So, in my quest to be better at what I do, to understand more fully, and to explore alternatives, I have consumed untold dollars and hours trying to get my head around something as simple (complex?) as violence.

So what to do?

I’ve found myself a pool of like-minded people that GET what I’m trying to do, PRACTICE some of what I do, and EDUCATE others that do what we do – only better. And to do that, I had to embrace violence.

What have I found along the way? A whole lot of misunderstanding, untruths, vitriol and sadly separation from family and friends. No one wants to hear about what you do. Everyone seems to live in a fantasy world about the violence that occurs all around them daily as it if doesn’t exist if they pretend not to look, hear, see, smell it.

As an example, every day – without exception – someone will walk by my post and say ‘You’ve got a cushy job! Must be nice!’ You can’t make them understand what you actually do when ‘you’re sitting around’, that would only make them more uncomfortable. If you tell them that you’re actually the ‘spotter’ today, the guy who’s job it is to look for weapons, they’d pale. Weapons? Here? Really? ‘Yeah, I take knives away every shift, and only the one’s I can see.’

             “…Because I know others Live through Destruction
              And I want to be Prepared When Our Paths Cross.
              People will vilify us, we know who we are though, and why we do what we do!”

I want to be prepared. I want to be there when I’m needed. I don’t want recognition, but I do expect understanding on a higher level than what we are currently subjected to by too many. We are vilified – because we do ‘stand on those walls so that you can sleep at night.’ We do know who we are, and why we do what we do. It’s for you – the complacent, and perhaps unthankful masses that judge us everyday because you don’t understand us, you haven’t done our job, and you don’t understand violence like we do.

We do what we do for you.

Violence occurs for many reasons. It’s been said that it is a form of communication – think about that. When you toss in emotion, it’s like napalm on and seeks to snuff out the logical arguments. It makes a communication a spectacular event! Now add beliefs. Belief is another incendiary component to communication. Combined with emotion you get a longer burn – before, during and after the fact. Maybe a hotter flame, but definitely a longer burn. Because, even after the event has passed, your brain is cranking out thoughts based on your beliefs.

What we are witnessing today, are poets. Disbursing emotion and belief as truths. Nothing could be further from it. You can’t tax or legislate away emotion or belief either.

To stop violence and violent acts, we need to be better at it than they.

See the media-circus for what it is – entertainment. Entertainment relies on two principle ingredients: emotion and belief. Enhance the first one and suspend the other one. We see it every newscast that comes out surrounding an event. You see and hear very little truth based on so few actual facts initially, and the race is on to get the story – at any cost, and screw the actual facts.

As I’m writing this CNN is showing reporters roaming freely around what should be a crime-scene. That’s how bad it’s gotten – the authorities are so afraid of being accused of a cover-up that they’re willing to compromise a crime scene of a mass-murder investigation ONE DAY after the event!

© Copyright 2015 tim boehlert

Words As A Force Option – A TWO-PART Article – PART 2

Words As A Force Option: Part II

“People never forget verbal abuse. It sinks deeper and festers longer than any other
kind of abuse.” “Words cut deeper and their wounds fester longer than traumas of the sword.”
Dr. George J. Thompson, Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion
My favorite Doc admission was that he was his own best student. Doc used his background
and his training in rhetoric and martial arts to create a lasting legacy that we can all benefit
from – who hasn’t been baited and taken the hook for a personal criticism, and then lashed
out defensively without thinking? One of Doc’s great tools is learning how to deflect the
negativity – his samurai depiction of moving the head to avoid the spear. You truly CAN do
better. We all can.

“The choices you make while attempting clear communication can be the difference
between having an average/typical evening and one that ends in the arrest of a person
for taking umbrage with your message using less skillful methods.”  tb 082814

i.e. he pulled a knife after I asked him to leave!
Yes, it actually happened something like that.
‘On Ko Chi Shin’ = Study the old, understand the new. Something that Doc brought to the
fore when developing his Verbal Judo program. Doc referenced from his Martial Arts
training to Jigoro Kano, and Japanese Samurai wisdom to correlate what he was trying to
do with words with what the Martial Artists did with their physical force OR wisdom. Judo
was developed by Jigoro Kano after he learned more about body mechanics and physics –
to move the immovable more easily. Ju – Gentle, Do – way. Truly studying from the old to
understand the new – using words to move the unwilling to do what you want them to,
without use of physical force.
Doc’s inspiration to name his ‘system’ Verbal Judo was Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo.
Doc pulled many ideas from his Martial Arts experience to formulate his own maxims
based on his knowledge of Judo techniques and the maxims of Jigoro Kano. Doc cites many
references to this in his second book on Verbal Judo: Redirecting Behavior With Words.

“Doc has been very active over the last few weeks -nudging me in a few new directions!
I’ve been doing some spending and research based on things Doc wrote in his second VJ
book about the origins of VJ and the correlation between the verbal aspects and the
physical techniques of Jigoro Kano. To better understand Doc’s intentions, I have to
fully understand the connections to specific Jigoro Kano Maxims and techniques that
Doc names and describes in the book. Trying to run down Doc’s reference to Jigoro
Kano’s study at Oxford whereby he studied muscles and bones and determined that he
needed to change some of his techniques based on his newfound knowledge of physiology.”
tb 030215
“Using verbal commands to aid in getting a situation under control can’t be
underestimated – you have to tell them what you need in order for them to comply. One
person should be doing the communicating. It needs to be slow, concise, and
deliberate. Sometimes they fight back as their survival instinct has kicked in – they
may be fighting to ‘stay alive’ only, and not fighting ‘you.’ They may be fighting
your actions to control them – YOU need to make that distinction, it’s YOUR job to do
that. Don’t take the actions personally. Treat it as a negotiation. Put it in context
– it may be more than you counted on or outside your experience. It could be drugs,
mental health issues, MR or Autism that you are seeing and dealing with. Don’t assume
anything. Be the professional, and continually re-assess your actions. To get
compliance sometimes you just need to explain your actions while you’re engaging them
physically to get that. Your goal is to do so with minimal damage. Explaining yourself
to them may make ALL of the difference. Use your Verbal Judo knowledge and skills to
get that result – safely, and compassionately. Review often. Improve your skills
continually.”
tb 061815
Here are some sagely words to live by, as outlined in Doc’s 16 Maxims from his second
Verbal Judo book, ‘Verbal Judo: Redirecting Behavior With Words’:

MAXIM # 1 “Move confrontations away from conclusions back to the reasoning process.”
MAXIM # 2 “Help them seek new approaches rather than argue about the right answer.
Never debate any point that can be resolved by examining the facts.”
MAXIM # 3: “Motivate others by raising their expectations of themselves.”
MAXIM # 4: “Seek what they do well, help them define their own self-worth.”
MAXIM # 5: “Persuade others with their energy.”
MAXIM # 6: “Learn what is in their best interests. Persuade them through an appeal to that
interest.”
MAXIM # 7: “Direct others rather than control them.”
MAXIM # 8: “Recognize their need for independence. Assume responsibility for their doing
well, not for doing their job.”
MAXIM # 9: “Give way in order to control.”
MAXIM # 10: “Seek a middle position that will satisfy their needs and your limits. Insist on
discussing principles, not personal preferences.”
MAXIM # 11: “Embrace frustration with empathy.”
MAXIM # 12: “Always harmonize with their pain. Lead them though their distress with
reason.”
MAXIM # 13: “Overcome hard with soft.”
MAXIM # 14: “Ignore the impact of their insults. Enforce the authority of the institution,
not the power of your anger.”
MAXIM # 15: “Be disinterested when you punish.”
MAXIM # 16: “When you punish for clearly defined rules violations, set aside personal
indignation. Respect the authority that empowers you to discipline.”
There is a lot to be learnt from these Maxims! They are things to do, here are things not to
do: ’11 Things You Should Never Say’:

01) “Come Here!”
02) “You wouldn’t understand.”
03) “Because those are the rules.”
04) “It’s none of your business.”
05) “What do you want me to do about it?”
06) “Calm Down!”
07) “What’s YOUR problem?”
08) “You never…” or “You always…”
09) “I’m not going to say this again!”
10) “I’m doing this for your own good.”
11) “Why don’t you be reasonable?”
Finally I leave you with a quote from the father of Verbal Judo, they need no explanation in
a magazine like this where learning throughout life is valued so highly.

“The goal of education is to expand the mind. A person?s mind cannot be expanded
unless he or she is motivated. There are many ways to motivate a person, but there is
only one underlying principle: raise expectations.”
Dr. George J. Thompson
Other resources:
Corrections One
http:/ /www.correctionsone.com/writers/ columnists/George-Thompson/
Dr. George J. Thompson on FaceBook
https:/ /www.facebook.com/pages/Dr-George-J-Thompson/261812673873736

 

©Copyright 2015, tb

Words As A Force Option – A TWO-PART Article – PART 1

Words As A Force Option Part I

“After thirty-five years of using both physical karate and Verbal Karate
professionally, I can tell you the latter never once helped me. And I was an expert at
it. In fact, Verbal Karate burned more bridges, alienated more people, and lost more
opportunities for me than anything else I can think of.”

“In the professional realm, Verbal Karate is the unprofessional use of language,
because you?re using words to express your personal feelings.”

“Whenever you use in a harmful, destructive way those words that rise readily to your
lips, you have employed the easiest use of language: Verbal Karate.”
Dr. George J. Thompson, ‘Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion’

I’d like to introduce CRGI members and its readership to the late Dr.George Thompson,
aka ‘Doc Rhino’ via an obituary:

JUN, 2011
AUBURN, N.Y.  Dr. George Thompson, the English professor-turned-street-cop who
ultimately taught one million professionals the art of verbally redirecting negative
behavior, passed away June 7 at his home in Auburn, New York. He was 69.
Doc Thompson contributed columns for many years for both CorrectionsOne.com and
PoliceOne.com, beginning in 2005. He helped our community examine how conscious
communication impacts the job. He regularly contributed tactical tips, too, and had us
thinking about human interaction as a tool for police.

Dr. Thompson was affectionally called “Doc” by the professionals he trained in his
methodology of Verbal Judo. To develop his tactics, he would watch police officers
participate in real-time crisis situations and observe strategies for talking down
violence.

Using what he observed from the “salty old dogs,” as he liked to call the LEOs, he
assembled a legion of global trainers who brought the lessons to police forces. He
trained departments large and small, including the NYPD and LAPD. He also worked with
the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Private enterprises outside of law enforcement have been trained in his methodology,
too, in order to protect employees from verbal assault and physical violence. Verbal
conflict mitigation can be applied to harassment and bullying in general as well as
the issues that are more specific to police.

Dr. Thompson held a B.A. from Colgate University and a Master?s and Doctorate in
English from the University of Connecticut. He completed post-doctoral work at
Princeton University in Rhetoric and Persuasion and went on to author four books, also
publishing work that appears in magazines and periodicals. Major networks like 48
Hours and Inside Edition have reported on his training techniques.

Doc often called his communications strategy “martial art of the mind and mouth,” and
was a fan of martial arts himself. He achieved a 2nd Dan in Judo.

Doc Thompson survived throat cancer for many years, and staunchly committed himself to
a busy speaking and training schedule despite his condition, which reduced his ability
to speak for extended periods of time.

He had recently received treatment to enhance his breathing, and he passed away
unexpectedly. Doc?s family includes his wife, Pam, their nine-year-old son Tommy Rhyno
Thompson, two adult children, Kelley (Ronald) Monach and Taylor (Valerie) Thompson,
and five grandchildren.
source: correctionsone.com

 

Doc’s very first book in a series of four is titled: ‘Verbal Judo: Words As A Force Option.’
When Doc personalized my copy, he quipped “This started it all!” Doc loved rhetoric.

Rhetoric: Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the capability of
writers or speakers to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific
situations.
source: wikipedia
Indeed. It started a revolution in Police Tactical Training. Using words instead of or in
conjunction with using force. Doc didn’t invent this stuff – Police Officers have used this
stuff for years. Doc admits that his FTO/partner, Bruce Fair, was the one that got him to
thinking…

My first introduction to Doc’s calling was ‘Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion.’ In it,
I got to ‘know’ Doc. He had an easy style of writing, and didn’t want his work to just be
perceived as ‘cop stories.’ Indeed, they are good cop stories, but with a very imaginative
message ? to teach others how to talk to people in crisis.

The first image I recall seeing of Doc, is one where I was reminded of Telly Savalas, minus
the sucker ? bald, bold, and silent. Through his cop stories, I gleaned an insight into some
very interesting strategy. In the movie Fort Apache: The Bronx, Paul Newman portrays a
Police Officer. In one scene, the responds to a call ‘man with a knife’. He cocks his hat
askew, walks up to the confused man while acting ‘crazy.’ Mr. Newman’s performance stops
the actions of this man, who now has is trying to figure out what is going on. This is an
example of exactly what Mr. Fair does during one story. Mr. Fair used an very unusual tactic
to de-escalate two parties during a domestic disturbance call.

In his Chiron Training series, Rory Miller does something similar. He de-escalates an irate
inmate by using an unusual strategy. This strategy got me to thinking differently about a
career that I had been thrust into with no training.

During his research, and over the course of many years, Doc finely honed his ‘program’ and
took it to the streets for validation and correction. His Verbal Judo was then taken to the
seminar circuit, where again it was refined. It became incorporated into many local
academies. Why? Because it works. It’s fairly easy to pickup, and even makeup – it’s not
that regimented, and it does encourage personal growth. You can make VJ your very own
tool, as I have. Yes there can be a learning curve, but you have the opportunities before
you to use it – evert, single, day.

We get so caught up in being ‘me’ that we often forget that it’s not always about ‘me.’ If
you are trying to be a part of the solution, you need to let your ego go and really try to be
just that. Using words as a force option is also about using silence – yours.

“You can do better!” Dr. George J. Thompson

You CAN do better. It takes a lot of conscientious work to get there. And that means:
1) Jettison your own ego.
MAXIM # 15: “Be disinterested when you punish.”
2) Become a better listener.
“Here then is the powerful sentence that will allow you to interrupt anyone without
fear of bodily harm: ?Let me be sure I heard what you just said.?
Dr. George J. Thompson, ‘Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion’
3) Remove your emotion from the equation.
MAXIM # 16: “When you punish for clearly defined rules violations, set aside personal
indignation. Respect the authority that empowers you to discipline.”
4) Respond, don’t react.

“Verbal Judo will teach you to respond – not react – to situations.”

“When you react, you?re being controlled by the situation. When you respond, you?re
dealing with it.”
Dr. George J. Thompson, Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion
In Part II I’ll share some of Doc’s sagely advice – his 16 Maxims, and 11 Things You Should
Never Say!

 

© Copyright 2015, tb

 

Taking A Stab at Violence!

Violence. It’s all around us. Everyday. Everywhere we look. You may not see it, nor hear it, nor even experience it. But it’s there. In fact, we will never know of every instance, nor ever be able to stop it all. So, I ask, what will YOU do? Will you pretend it’s NOT your problem, of pretend it doesn’t exist. That’s alright, and it may be the norm. It likely is the norm. You can walk away, or walk by it, but you won’t be able to do that forever either.

I too turned a blind eye to it for a long time. It’s not that I chose to do nothing, or ignore it, I just wasn’t aware of what IT is. Simply put, I had no idea what it looked like – at least on so many other levels that I was never subjected to – up close and personal.

Violence is woven into the thread of our lives. Most of us are lucky enough to not have to deal with some of it, for long, long periods. Some of us may only have to deal with small parts of it, and then only now and again. Some of us choose to welcome it into our lives, via our lifestyle. Some of us choose to invite it in to better understand it. it’s strange to me that violence has so many faces that I have either been unaware of, OR, not been exposed to. Being white, middle-class, I’ve been buffered for much of my life.

Who’d of thought that you could go into a bookstore and BUY a book about violence? Who’d of thought that not only that would be possible, but that it would have it’s own ‘section?’ Who would even KNOW enough about it to WRITE about it? Who’d of thought that any one man could not only write several books about it, but earn a living teaching others about it – through seminars, on-line blogging, e-books and in dojo training. Or several men? Or all over the world?

Yes, violence IS that big. It’s a money-maker now. In the same breath, it’s also a treasure trove of great information, and maybe NOT so great information. I guess it all depends on how familiar you are with the subject matter. Of course it’s also susceptible to the same problems that many subjects are subject to – opinions.

There’s some great information in the marketplace, and there’s also some very poor information out there. The problem here is HOW do you determine what’s good, and what’s not? I think that like many other subjects, context is important. Familiarity with the subject can be key, but how do you find the RIGHT answers? And again, it’s dependent on context. There are no right answers, because context is always changing, evolving. There are NO RIGHT ANSWERS. Maybe, maybe not. It’s debatable, like everything that involves opinions. Simply that.

Violence is something that I now pursue. For a living. As a course of what my job requires. To quote a very good source, “The only way to deal with violence, is to be better at it than THEY are.” Wow! That quote changed my life. Unfortunately, those that NEED to hear this, and to understand it, don’t and can’t – they don’t do what we do. Asking someone to watch you while you do your job makes them uncomfortable. And since you can’t schedule when someone chooses to use violence, you can’t ask them to watch, and maybe either comment or critique what just happened. One thing about it is that THEY will probably think you are LOOKING for violent outcomes. Yeah, it’s like that. They don’t understand, so they won’t understand. Simple. If they do happen to ‘see’ it, likely on a video (sans audio, as is most often the case), they can play monday-morning quarterback to affect their analysis, and justifications. They weren’t there, so they’ll never really know: what, why, how.

To experience physical violence, you usually have to be involved. You HAVE to be there. To understand it is a whole different thing. there are many factors and facets to a violent act. There are underlying issues, underlying emotions, and unknowns – those things that makes us who we are. Violence can never really been quantified or quantized. It’s a fluid thing, with no outline, no boundaries, and maybe no real beginning – or ending. It’s a slice of life. Complex doesn’t even cover it.

Violence does do one thing well – it sends a message. It conveys meaning, it defines an action, it makes progress happen – for one side or the other, or maybe even both. I’ve spent five years studying to deal with it. Scared? Yes. Indecisive? Yes. Reluctant? Yes. Willing to go there? Again, yes. Someone HAS to go there. It’s our way of being a stop-gap for those that would use this tool for their benefit, to your detriment. I’m an unlikely candidate to be here, now, but if I don’t, who will? And will they do it the way I’d do it? Not likely. Too many go there for the wrong reasons. It’s NOT about being a bigger man, but it is about being a better man. To stand up for what’s right, and to stand for those that can’t or won’t stand on their own. Because, they don’t feel they can, or should perhaps.

Too many ‘people’ use violence as a tool against us or those that we love, care for, care about, or are responsible for. That’s not to say it’s always on purpose, or willingly with bad intent. It’s a tool – and can be misused, used for the wrong purpose or for the right purpose, but wrong circumstance I suppose. Many know what they’re doing, many don’t, or may have underlying issues that change their perspective. Drugs, alcohol, mental health issues, emotional distress.

Violence as a tool – what a concept. It was hard for me to wrap my head around this one! But it now makes ‘perfect sense.’ Odd how five years of constant reading, viewing, and discussing this subject has changed my outlook, my mindset, and my humanity. I’m often sad about it, but also proud that I now possess some of the things I need to deal with violence. I have many sources that ALL have contributed in many special ways to getting me ‘here.’

Martial Arts has provided me with new insights and a different perspective on violence. I first tried MA when I was in my early teen years. Karate was what was available, so Karate it was. I got my White Belt, and that seemed like a lot of work to get there! The stretching required alone about broke me!  What finalized my first brush with MA was not the work necessary, but the ability to get to it. Suffice to say that I and MA parted ways, too early for me. It was not until late in life that I re-discovered MA – this time with a purpose. I now had what I felt was a real need. In fact, it was a requirement as far as I was concerned, no two ways about it.

Five years in and I don’t consider myself a Martial Artist – I’m a believer in positive MA, and try to avoid all of the negative associated with it, and sadly there’s way too much negativity flowing through the arts – mostly due to ego, in my opinion. I’m not sure what I’d consider myself – I do practice, but not enough in a dojo, and certainly not with a partner most of the time. I do spend a lot of my income on educational materials – books, DVD’s, seminars however. I’m also of the belief that you CAN do some of it, even without practice, as I have clearly proven to myself. I don’t need to prove it to anyone else, despite their claims to the other viewpoint. I have experienced MUSHIN, once specifically that I can clearly recall, and likely many other times when I was too busy trying to effect a positive outcome to a violent outburst.

What I do consider myself is a voice to promote the positive in a new era of MA awareness. I specifically refer to my co-writing and experiences with my Sensei, Avi Nardia and my good friend, Hanshi Patrick McCarthy. The short story is this: in 2008, I took on a job that I had no idea about – well, not a very good understanding of, shall we agree on that? At that time I enrolled in a MA Dojo, Karate again, as that is what I ‘knew’, or thought of at that time, and with what I thought would be a good solution to an immediate problem. It wasn’t the right solution, but it did give me some grounding, and a lot of self-confidence – something I was lacking in, and will likely always fully acquire.

Before obtaining my Purple Belt, I’d determined that the training wasn’t what I needed. I didn’t know what I needed, but I knew this wasn’t it. That’s not to knock the style at all, as I did take away some very important pieces to MY puzzle. It’s just that I didn’t feel this was going to get me to where I needed, and specifically FAST enough! In doing some background searching, and after learning one joint lock combination, THEN I started to look for THAT! That piece fit my understanding of what I thought I needed – it made sense, and seemed to fit my needs. In doing Kata, which I love for the traditional aspects as well as the reasoning behind doing so, I was lost – the steps weren’t clear as to WHY they were performed. What was I doing making a series of moves, in a rough circle – who was the opponent, and HOW was he moving? I think if that had been explained UP FRONT, better, it would have made more sense, but that’s how I interpreted it. Motion without understanding, pointless to me at that point.

I checked out another school, and was determined NOT to start out from scratch again – I was determined NOT to be a cash cow for another school, simply so that they could make more money, and not really care about where I had been or gotten to. It seemed like I was just another income stream, with little to no interest in what I felt I needed even being considered. You were expected to follow THEIR program because that’s how THEY did it. Period. I call Bu Shido! McDojo reality, again.

I decided to try the DVD route – buy into some training materials that I found on the internet. I bought a ‘complete’ system that seemed to display MORE elements of what I thought fit my needs. Through that ‘set’, I found my Sensei, so it was worth the investment. Kapap is HIS art, and now mine art of choice. Through Sensei Avi, and his circle of influence and friends, I have come to appreciate what MA can offer to a ‘student’ – positive growth, family values, compassion for other cultures – things I find lacking in what I know of some of the MA arena. Ego seems to rule the day, and with the rise of MMA, which I found brutal when I was first introduced to get, now has a different feeling. As does violence – I don’t view it the same, but I do view it as an opportunity. Kapap has introduced me to many new things, but mostly new ways to view my world, with an opportunity that many miss – to MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

© Copyright tb 2013