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Old 04-14-2008, 08:00 PM   #26
Buck
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Re: What is "combat"?

Kit,

Great information and input, I got a question. Would you agree that a person who has a mind set of not wanting to be killed or injured-unwillingly- when caught in a fight would be combat? And that the levels of duress are based on situation. Including those being attacked have experience vs. those not experienced at all in high stressful situations? For example, like the girl beat up by 8 others, thinking she was going to die then and there before she was K.O. She may have felt the same level of duress prior and during that point of when she got K.O. The same duress and intensity that a trained solider might feel for the first time while being in a fire fight. Wouldn't both these people feel high levels of duress even though their situations aren't the same? Isn't each an example of a real combat situation?

What do you say about when 2 MMA fighters enter a ring, they both know that there is a ref to stop the fight and protect a fighter. There are medics, trainers, and doctors at ring side to aid them. Both know each will have to comply to a list of rules, i.e. no eye gouging, face stomping, and the list goes on. Is that combat or is it a tournament competition? Are the mind set same as the solider and the girl? What am getting at is, isn't part of real combat not knowing there is someone who will step in and stop it. Not having rules, or being matched up against someone who is your same weight and height. Not having all the other things that go into competition that make a safety net? Physiologically know you have a safety net does play a role in changing the mind set. The purpose of having a safety net is so the fighters don't suffer serious or life threatening injury, like having a eye gouged out, so they can make the next fight.

What do you think? Just curious what your take is.
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Old 04-14-2008, 08:20 PM   #27
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: What is "combat"?

Bill wrote:

Quote:
The mentalities are what's especially interesting to me. I have observed that in a low intensity conflict (let's say, the aggressive drunk in a bar scenario) you are in a state of mind where you're operating on some instinct and yet you still have some cognitive influence. You decide how to handle the situation, but the execution of your actions are dictated by your training and habits.

In a situation where your survival might be threatened or you are extremely angry, an interesting thing seems to happen- you revert to what I call "observer mode" where you are acting purely on instinct and are almost watching from behind. It's almost like, "Oh, look what I'm doing. How interesting." Your thoughts have no influence on your actions and probably you have to reconstruct the event later just to know what you did.

I have heard from people who've been there, that in extremely high stress combat (desperate, hand-to-hand combat) there is often yet another state of mind. This is the "last stand" mentality I referred to earlier. Your animal instincts are directing your actions and even though you have characteristically given up your hope of survival and a future, you will do anything just to keep fighting. Time slows down. Nonessential functions are shut down and a strange sense of calm is described by people who've experienced this.

The "anything" you'll do to keep fighting here, plus the actions your instincts direct in the first two scenarios are what I'm getting at. I'm suggesting that if you train distinctly for each of them you'll have clear and appropriate responses and your actions will be optimal, as long as you correctly discern the situation you're in.

What do you guys think?
I don't know if I follow you too well on this line of thought or if I completely understand your thought process or catagorization of things.

Not saying you are necessarily wrong here, but I don't really know how to answer this directly.

I suppose I don't delineate things quite that far. I don't get in bar fights, so I can't say I would know what mentality would occur there.

Also, I don't fight violently over domestic issues where emotions run high and anger comes in to play.

As a soldier though we apply the same emotion and skill I suppose through low intensity conflict (LIC) all the way up to High Intensity conflict (HIC). You simply condition and train to respond appropriately based on what is presented to you and what the ROE call for.

Sure the level of fear and andrenaline may increase, yes things may slow down or may seem sureal to you. It is why you must train and condition yourself physically and mentally to respond in training.

If you don't do something in training, you probably won't do it in battle when there is not time to think about it. Training becomes habits, habits become automatic.

well trained habits are not instincts.

On "doing anything to survive":

That has not been my observation Watch some of the knife attack videos, most people seem to be in a state of denial and still processing what is happening, they never fight back they join the "fetal fight club" or watch themselves get stabbed as they sprawl their hands out to stop the attack.

Watch the early UFCs for another good example. Several fighters joined the FFC. Once their basic game plan was broken, they had nothing but instincts left, and they curled up on the floor in a tight ball to protect themselves.

I had a lady a few years ago get her arm caught in a subway, passengers stood around looking at her still processing it. Sheep....instincts.

You can have all the cognitive processing and rationalization you want too, but it may not matter if your enemy is controlling you. You will always be processing it one step behind him.

So, it boils down to habits and things that are ingrained at the muscle memory level. Train as you fight.

It is about increasing the intensity and stress level as far as you can and maintain acceptable levels of safety (or acceptable levels of risk) replicating the conditions you will face. You then work on the things you need to do in those situations conditioning the responses until they are ingrained. You can then call them "skills".

Skills may be "instinctual" but they are not "instincts". Some of the skills will be like riding a bike..you never forget. Others are perishable and you must train them over and over again in order to retain or improve them.

Anyway, that is my experiences. I don't know much about the Mentalities etc. Some people or mentally and physically tough, and some chose not to be. From my experiences "giving up" is a decision that you make on your on accord with free will. Either you do or you don't.

Physical stamina is gained through working out, that is all I can say about that. EIther you have it or you don't. there are varying degrees, of course.

Their is a linkage between being mentally and physically tough as well.

So, you have skills and habits, you choose to be mentally tough, and you develop/condition your body to be able to bring yourself to the fight....everything else is the situation presented.

That is how I see it basically.

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Old 04-14-2008, 08:28 PM   #28
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Re: What is "combat"?

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Michael Fooks wrote: View Post
Are you suggesting that MMA doesn't have good options for simply controlling someone?
Nope, not at all.
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Old 04-14-2008, 09:50 PM   #29
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Re: What is "combat"?

It sounds like many of the members have a background in law enforcement or the military? Most seasoned cops (and combat vets) have probably had a scene go bad and have at least seen the second state.

Maybe the usual cuff-and-stuff tactics aren't working and the perp begins to turn the tables a little. I am thinking you've got to have another level of game worked out ahead of time, and maybe one more after that, in case things really don't turn out.

What makes the difference? What we're willing to resort to? Aikidoka are somewhat unique because we train to decide how hard we're going to do a technique each time. So there's a built in sense of ethics.

Shihan put you down light as a feather because they can. But you know they could separate your upper and lower torso along the way if they chose to.

Last edited by Bill Danosky : 04-14-2008 at 09:58 PM.
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Old 04-14-2008, 10:25 PM   #30
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Re: What is "combat"?

Phil

Perhaps not surprisingly, I strongly follow Kevin in his thinking. We are both trainers of guys who face "combat" situations, typically in very different environments, but because he teaches close combat, probably more alike than not.

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Kit,

...Would you agree that a person who has a mind set of not wanting to be killed or injured-unwillingly- when caught in a fight would be combat? And that the levels of duress are based on situation.
In general, yes. They are often based on the person as well. Some people will overreact to a situation that would not necessarily be combative, and their psychological and physiological reaction might be the same as a much more trained and experienced person would undergo in a much more "combative" situation. Some people get completely overwhelmed in Simunition scenarios - which aren't even real, though the stress they produce can be for some people.

Quote:
Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
Including those being attacked have experience vs. those not experienced at all in high stressful situations? For example, like the girl beat up by 8 others, thinking she was going to die then and there before she was K.O. She may have felt the same level of duress prior and during that point of when she got K.O. The same duress and intensity that a trained solider might feel for the first time while being in a fire fight. Wouldn't both these people feel high levels of duress even though their situations aren't the same? Isn't each an example of a real combat situation?
To my thinking, yes. Eight on one in a committed attack, even unarmed, is a lethal threat situation. I would shoot people who were doing that to me. Understand, too, that there is a certain level of default to experience - that soldier who might have been shot at repeatedly from guys fifty or a hundred yards away, and might be a crack shot, might freak out and lose all composure when attacked by eight guys at close range who intend to stomp him to death.

- RE: MMA - snip -

Quote:
Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
Physiologically know you have a safety net does play a role in changing the mind set. The purpose of having a safety net is so the fighters don't suffer serious or life threatening injury, like having a eye gouged out, so they can make the next fight.

What do you think? Just curious what your take is.
Hmmm, let me see if I can address this and how I think about it without causing too much of a stir.

Physiologically, actually, the results will be very similar, and I think there is some research to show that this is the case.

Though I've trained it, I've never fought MMA, but I have to tell you, Judo shiai has been next to my closest experience to real, "combative" physical encounters (in other words not "resisting arrest" but situations where people have bitten me, eye gouged me, groin grabbed me, attacked me once we went to the ground, etc.). The speed, dynamics, and heart pounding intensity have been very close.

I can only imagine that MMA, with far less rules, would be closer still. There is a safety net for obvious reasons, but while the brain intellectually understands that, which will lessen the stress, the body really doesn't know the difference.

The closest experience to the real thing has been intense, close quarters, combined Simunition with hand to hand combat drills - where the other guy is actively trying to shoot you from a few feet away to contact distance.

Once again, not the real thing, but the dynamics and speed closely mirror reality.

Some people will decry MMA as rules bound and not like real fighting, and yet hold up Simunition force on force training as tantamount to real gunfighting, though it is just as rules bound and "unrealistic" in a completely different way...

And others will do Sim drills as if it is "paintball with real guns" and lose much of the training value in it.

Still others will "nut up" as if it was the real thing and they actually think they are going to die - as Kevin talks about people go fetal, I've seen them throw their guns down and run out of the room, I've seen them simply give up, completely go "out of scenario" and raise their hand and go "my gun's not working!!!"

The point is its TRAINING. No training perfectly mirrors reality because the MINDSET is different. Even if the dynamics are relatively the same. Some folks don't even have the mindset to handle the simulated reality, let alone the reality.

Force on Force Simunition drills and scenarios, and MMA, are the next best thing to real combat. The difference is in how we approach both in our minds.

Now, as Kevin says - as you train, so shall you do. Don't for a second mistake me as saying that I think that MMA is "all you need." I have seen MMA fighters who are also officers completely ignore that guns are involved in a situation in favor of MMA moves that get their guns taken away. I've also had them tell me "I never thought of that" when I show them combative applications of standard MMA moves but applied to gun or knife - I don't tell them the dirty little secret that I stole much of my thinking on that from traditional martial arts, especially armed jujutsu.

You have to integrate that in your training - mentally and physically. I try to discipline myself when doing Judo or BJJ to think how I would access a weapon in certain situations. Or I will place my hand on a partner's face momentarily, and say to myself "eye gouge" or the like, just to make sure I pattern that thinking in my training. I also have other training outlets where I can much more directly incorporate those things - without actually eye gouging, etc. though - and deal with weapons based stuff - there is simply no substitute than having a blue or purple belt level, or higher, BJJ guy who is also a cop, familiar with guns, and familiar with your holster, actually trying to take your gun and use it against you in a freestyle "gun grappling" fight. Add striking and dirty tactic "benchmarks" (since you aren't actually doing it to each other) and that is about the closest you can come to reality.

In the end, no matter what you are training, if you are not training with combatively realistic dynamics in addition to a combatively realistic awareness, you aren't training as realistically as you can be. This is admittedly less important for the martial artist than it is for the armed professional, by and large.
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Old 04-14-2008, 10:29 PM   #31
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Re: What is "combat"?

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Aikidoka are somewhat unique because we train to decide how hard we're going to do a technique each time. So there's a built in sense of ethics.
Not unique at all, its part and parcel of how Judo is applied as well. Many standard Judo throws even in their sportive version will seriously hurt an untrained person, especially on concrete.
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Old 04-14-2008, 10:30 PM   #32
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Re: What is "combat"?

Not sure about cops...but soldiers don't have "scenes that go bad". They have battles and fights, in which they fight, die, win, and survive (hopefully). Might be semantics, but I think it is important to look at it in the proper light. It's not like we are trying to avoid the situations.

I don't think aikidoka are unique at all, or have a corner on the market of choice concerning how hard they get to do a technique. I think the way we train lends us to think that way, which I think is dangerous thought. Certainly training and skill can expand they choices you "might" have, but aikidoka don't own it by any stretch of the imagination.

Ethics are on the person, not in the techniques...techniques are not ethical, only the choices we make to take action. Again, aikidoka study to be ethical I think, but that does not mean we have more or less skill in what we do when acting in a martial capacity. Ethics I think are a mental thing or a state of mind.

Maybe Shihans can or can't do this. Certainly in a dojo in a controlled environment they can demonstrate the range and skill that is possible...I don't think though it directly transmit to reality. They may or may not be able to demonstrate the same level of skill or proficiency in a combat environment over anyone else....too many variables!

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Old 04-14-2008, 10:31 PM   #33
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Re: What is "combat"?

Quote:
Bill Danosky wrote: View Post
What makes the difference? What we're willing to resort to? Aikidoka are somewhat unique because we train to decide how hard we're going to do a technique each time. So there's a built in sense of ethics.

Shihan put you down light as a feather because they can. But you know they could separate your upper and lower torso along the way if they chose to.
This as they say... is a whole other ball of wax and I don't think Aikido is unique in this regard at all.... Every Martial Art I have ever seen or practiced has a "built in sense of ethics."

Ethics don't mean squat if you don't practice them under all conditions Combat or otherwise and my heart goes out to those currently in harms way who have to act outside of those ethics because they don't have time to think about ethics before they pull the trigger or lase the "suspected terrorist safe house" or drop the "surgically precise" JADAM on same safe house only to spend the rest of thier lives dealing with the "minimal collateral damage"

Some of the most ethical people I know Men I would follow into the gates of hell get to spend the rest of thier lives haunted by what they had to do in War.

My God Bless them and ease thier suffering.

To compare Aikido's "ethical structure" as unique in the light of this kind of reality is rediculous

"War is HELL and cannot be refined least men grow too fond of it!"

Rant Over

William Hazen

Last edited by Aikibu : 04-14-2008 at 10:35 PM.
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Old 04-14-2008, 10:36 PM   #34
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Re: What is "combat"?

an example of ethics:

I am a vegetarian because I believe it wrong to uneccessarily take life when it is not required. I value all life equally, and think killing is wrong.

That is my ethics and values.

However, it does not mean there are not conditions that exist in which I will not kill.

In the situation that Kit mentions, 8 on 1 with presumed intent, I am not going to ponder my personal ethics against killing at that point in time.

Did I fail in an AIki sense? Did I fail to follow an ethical life or path?

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Old 04-14-2008, 11:43 PM   #35
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Re: What is "combat"?

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However, it does not mean there are not conditions that exist in which I will not kill.
Ah, but it would still be wrong, no? A big thing I wrestle with, in flirting with Buddhism but embracing a life that has as part of its calling the possibility of having to kill others.

Interesting piece on Thich Nhat Hahn on NPR last night - on how one can be a "Bodhisattva with a Gun."

http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.o...anscript.shtml

While I won't be hugging anyone while wearing a gunbelt (had a suicidal gal try that on me once, after asking me if I would shoot her if she tried to take my gun...), the question is an interesting one.

Have Gun, Be Mindful.

Even taking the Buddhism out of it, ethics and professionalism drive us toward NOT overreacting, but at the same time addressing the potential that any person we arrest could be the "one" that gives us the fight of our lives. That is a precarious balance that calls for a lot of self-possession. Studies are showing that cops who regularly train in force on force scenarios tend to make more appropriate use of force decisions.
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Old 04-15-2008, 03:19 AM   #36
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Re: What is "combat"?

Kit, well you've hit upon the main issue I struggle with constantly. Anyway, I like to think I am on the path of the bodhisattva. I will have to listen to the link you sent today.

I think for us, it is important to be mindful. I came to grips with it when I realized that I should not seek violence, but need to do my best to ensure that I and the soldiers that I represent are as best trained as possible to receive violence. The better trained they are, the better more choices they have to engage in acts of combat skillfully. In doing so, hopefully I can engage mindfully with compassion, which should (hopefully) lessen the amount of conflict and harm in the world.

It definitely is a tricky area wrought with two sides of the coin. That is, it is easy to see how one also might see me as a enabler of violence. For another, staying away from my profession might be the best spiritual path. Both would be right, I believe.

Anyway,

Ironically, I think it has strengthened me as a warrior in many ways.

You see things like Abu Grahab happening, and you want to make sure that you train people to be strong and compassionate, and to make the right choices. That is what shows me that there is room in the military for people with a strong spiritual base to help others alleviate suffering, not create more!

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Old 04-15-2008, 06:29 AM   #37
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Re: What is "combat"?

Quote:
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Do anything to keep fighting - absolutely! This is the default mindset and MUST be so ingrained that it is almost instinctive.
This is one of the greatest skills combat sports develop. It is developed to the point that you see people who are knocked out still 'defending' themselves or swinging as they go down. I quickly figured out there are two types of people in boxing. The guys with experience who will hardly blink as you punch them in the face and will just instead use that as a chance to hit you. And the guys who close their eyes and turn their head away when you punch them in the face, and they get knocked out. I strive to (well actually I strive to not get hit) be the first type of guy.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 04-15-2008, 10:12 AM   #38
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Re: What is "combat"?

I heard it said somewhere that no one has the right to intitiate force. I can't remember the source anymore but I always thought that was a good ethical basis.

"Budo is love" is a great Zen koan, for those with sitting practices. The dichotomy of violence and compassion seems like it's always been a struggle for warriors seeking enlightenment. I think it's a mark of good character that you guys are wrestling with this.
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Old 04-15-2008, 11:09 AM   #39
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Re: What is "combat"?

Quote:
Bill Danosky wrote: View Post
The dichotomy of violence and compassion seems like it's always been a struggle for warriors seeking enlightenment.
IMHO, no dichotomy. I deeply love the people I stand watch over. If it requires violence to keep them safe. Then it is violence born out of love and compassion. No struggle. Statement of fact. But make that decision before you walk into battle.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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Old 04-15-2008, 12:55 PM   #40
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Re: What is "combat"?

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IMHO, no dichotomy. I deeply love the people I stand watch over. If it requires violence to keep them safe. Then it is violence born out of love and compassion. No struggle. Statement of fact. But make that decision before you walk into battle.
Concur 100% I am a long time follower of the way myself and it brings to mind a Koan/Parable taught to me not long ago...

The Master and his Student were traveling to a village when they came upon a large stream with a ford. At the ford they found a beautiful but delicate woman who seemed to be quite anxious about making the crossing...She saw them and asked the Master if he could carry her across as the stream was swift and she did not know how to swim. With a chuckle the Master picked her up and all of them crossed the stream. After setting her gently down, in gratitude the beautiful woman kissed him on the cheek and bid him thanks and farewell....

A few miles up the road The Master noticed his Student has a puzzled look on his face...They made eye contact and the Student asked, " Master is it not true that we are forbidden to touch a woman?" "Yes it is true" The Master Replied..."Our vows do not allow for us to touch them in any way." "But Master" The Student pleaded "You carried that beautiful woman across the stream!"

"Why are you still carrying her?" The Master replied.

William Hazen
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Old 04-15-2008, 02:41 PM   #41
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Re: What is "combat"?

Another serendipitous turn of the conversation. O Sensei seemed to become more powerful the more compassionate he became. (And personally, I believe the Shihans I've trained with are as good in real life as they are on the tatami, by the way.)

I know this is really twisting the thread, but do you suppose that's the real meaning of "Budo is love"? O Sensei could deal death and destruction on an unparalleled level, but was it because he chose not to, or in spite of it?

Or maybe once you've realized that you can do whatever you want with an attacker, why not cut them a break?
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Old 04-15-2008, 03:38 PM   #42
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Re: What is "combat"?

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Bill Danosky wrote: View Post
Or maybe once you've realized that you can do whatever you want with an attacker, why not cut them a break?
IMHO, now you are learning. First you have to have the ability and intent, then you can choose not to use it. If you really don't have it, then you can't choose not to use what you don't have.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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Old 04-17-2008, 12:39 PM   #43
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Re: What is "combat"?

The only thing I can add to this topic is my own experiences. As a Soldier and Correctional Officer, when faced with life and death situations (fire fights, an inmate with a shank hell bent on killing you), everything seems to just STOP. For me, I'm not thinking of what technique to use. I'm not standing there racking my brain. It's almost like you blank out at the time of engagement. My mind is totally clear, I'm just not thinking of anything. After things have settled down, I always ask what did I do? An outsider not involved tends to have a clearer picture than the person in the "storm". To me, my experiences would define combat. Kinda hard to explain.
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Old 04-17-2008, 07:18 PM   #44
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Re: What is "combat"?

A serious subject, but what the heck....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rqla4Y8gWq8

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Old 05-05-2008, 02:48 PM   #45
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Re: What is "combat"?

I'm now on the verge of saying that combat involves more than two opponents. Not that there's no such thing as 'single combat'- But in Aikido and Krav Maga training, for instance, multiple opponents are frequent enough that it's given you don't want to ground fight.
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Old 05-05-2008, 03:02 PM   #46
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Re: What is "combat"?

Heh...combat is any time the guy(s) say(s)

Quote:
see this stick?? I'm gonna put your head on it!
B,
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Old 05-05-2008, 04:30 PM   #47
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Re: What is "combat"?

No one in their right mind "wants" to ground fight.

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Old 05-05-2008, 10:10 PM   #48
Bill Danosky
 
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Re: What is "combat"?

I have heard in combat you have to do some things you don't want to do. Some things you want to avoid at all costs, like grounding an opponent and submitting them when there are an unknown number of other opponents on the field.

Better to gamble on tactics vs. several foes and be wrong than the other way?
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Old 05-06-2008, 03:11 AM   #49
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: What is "combat"?

I always insist that they submit by a triangle choke, it is my signature move.

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Old 05-06-2008, 10:51 AM   #50
KIT
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Re: What is "combat"?

Direct link doesn't work:

Journal of Non-lethal Combatives, Jan 2007
Going to the Ground: Lessons from Law Enforcement
By Chris Leblanc
Copyright Chris Leblanc 2007. All rights reserved.


Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) go “hands on” in both armed and unarmed physical confrontations more often than perhaps any other armed professionals. Within the self-defense and martial arts communities, this naturally has led to a great deal of interest in the experiences of officers in physical encounters. And no other information coming from the law enforcement community has received as much attention as an elusive set of statistics that purportedly show that 90% (or more) of physical altercations “go to the ground.”
The responsibility for the popularizing of this statistic is most often laid at the feet of the famous Gracie family, proponents of the art of Brazilian jujitsu, and dismissed as a shameless attempt at marketing themselves and their family fighting system which, not coincidentally, emphasizes fighting on the ground.

Unfortunately, I have yet to see a single source within the martial arts community -- affiliated with the Gracies or otherwise -- that accurately cites the actual study, or that does not either accept the statistics (or repudiate them) almost wholesale. If the constantly repeated Internet forum discussions and “letters to the editor” to various trade magazines are any indication, the topic has actually become an emotional argument for some. That argument usually finds those who practice Brazilian jujitsu or a similar system with a strong ground fighting component supporting the stats, and those who practice an art with minimal or no ground grappling denying their relevance. After personally posting the information below on several Internet forums with a wide dissemination, I still see the statistics often misquoted, misunderstood, and misapplied. I have seen them dismissed as pertaining “only to law enforcement,” and explained away as not offering lessons for self-defense.

The statistics provided here are quoted directly from the ASLET (American Society of Law Enforcement Training) pamphlet for their July 1997 Use of Force Training Seminar. The training was presented in Los Angeles by Sergeant Greg Dossey, Sergeant John Sommers, and Officer Steve Uhrig of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). It includes a description of the study and methodology used in investigating Use of Force incidents by LAPD.

In 1991, Sergeant Dossey, an exercise physiologist with the LAPD, completed a comparative study of use of force incidents reported by LAPD for the year 1988. Sergeant Dossey looked at all 5,617 use of force incident narratives written by officers in 1988, and devised a method for codifying the information contained and analyzing it for what they identified as dominant altercation patterns. The study was replicated in 1992 by LAPD’s Training Review committee.

Below, I will provide direct quotes (in italics) from the 1997 ASLET report along with some analysis and commentary which should help shed more light on what lessons law enforcement and the concerned citizen can glean from the study. After that, I will do the same with information taken from a 2003 survey of attendees at a Calibre Press Street Survival Seminar.




1997 ASLET “Use of Force Training Seminar: Future of Non-Lethal Force Training--Reality Based and Integrating Techniques for Non-Lethal Force Training”

For the purposes of this article, the significant findings of the 1997 ASLET study are: [EN1]

1. During 1988, there were 316,525 arrests made by LAPD.

5,617 (1.7%) of these arrests required the completion of a use of force report.

2,031 (0.6%) altercations developed from these arrests. “Of the 5,617 reports examined, only 2,031 incidents contained a sufficient level of aggressive resistance by the suspect toward the officer to qualify as an altercation.”

Thus, the study confirms what every police officer knows: most arrest situations involve little or no use of force, and minor resistance does not qualify as a “fight” (or in this case, altercation). Semi-compliant persons are often stopped by a mere order to comply or with a firm control of an arm or wrist for handcuffing. Nonetheless, even these low level uses of force may require use of force reports in many agencies, as does the pointing of a firearm at a subject who may not resist physically in any way. This study has accounted for these facts.

2. During 1988, there were an average of 867 arrests and 5.6 altercations per day. Eight hundred fifty six officers reported injuries from such altercations. These 856 officers missed a total of 2,095 days from work due to injuries sustained in altercations.

3. Altercations were most likely to develop from the following field activities: disturbances of the peace (33.8%), traffic stops (18.5%), and observed narcotics activity (14.8%).

4. Over 90% of the subjects involved in altercations were male; only about 9.5% were female.

5. Five scenario patterns accounted for 95% of the altercations: “Within each of these five patterns, a description of the most frequent first, second, and final combative action was generated by the computer… Four combative actions by suspects accounted for almost two thirds (65.8%) of these I.O.D. injuries; the officer was kicked 23.4 percent, punched 16 percent, thrown/tripped 15 percent, or was bitten 11.4 percent. In 1988 the average officer in uniform and assigned to the field was in less than 3 altercations.” The thrown/tripped statistic includes injuries sustained from wrestling on the ground.

As for the five patterns, they were:

Subject pulls away from an officer’s attempt to control the subject’s arm. “33.7% Officer grabbed the subject by the arm and the subject pulled his arm away; the most frequent second act was the officer applying a joint lock (32%) and the most frequent final subduing act was the officer taking the subject down to the ground (46%)”

Subject attempts to punch or kick the officer. “25.4% Subject ran at the officer and swung punches and kicks; the most frequent second act was the officer evading the subject and striking him with the baton (26%; a close second was taking the subject to the ground 22%) and the most frequent final subduing act was taking the subject to the ground (35%).”

Subject refuses to assume a searching position. “19.3% Subject refused to assume a searching position as verbally ordered by the officer; the most frequent second act was the officer applying a joint lock (35.5%) and the most frequent final subduing act was taking the subject to the ground (36.5%).”

Subject flees and officer pursues. “10.5% Subject ran from the officer, officer chased the subject; the most frequent second act was the officer taking the subject to the ground (40%) and the most frequent final subduing act was also taking the subject to the ground (39.5%).”

Subject takes a combative posture, but does not attempt to strike the officer. “6.8% Subject assumed a fighting, martial arts, or boxing stance but did not attack the officer; the most frequent second act was the officer striking the subject with the baton (38%) and this was also the most frequent final act (41%).”

The study also included the percentages of injuries based on targeting of the attacks. For example: kicking resulted in injuries to the legs (36%), the head (27%), the rib cage (22.5%), and the groin (14%). Although several fractures occurred, the most common injury was a bruise to the legs, head, ribs, or groin. The most common injury suffered in ground fighting was a strained lower back.

6. The report concluded: “Nearly two thirds of the 1988 altercations (62%) ended with the officer and subject on the ground with the officer applying a joint lock and handcuffing the subject.” Given this, it is better put that the LAPD data says when officers physically fought with suspects (versus simply encountering minor resistance or non-compliance which required a minor use of force, but did not escalate into an altercation), 95% of the time those fights took one of five patterns, and 62% of those five types of altercations ended up with the officer and subject on the ground with the officer locking and handcuffing the suspect.

After this report was published, LAPD instituted a program that included training in ground control skills, which in turn were based on modern judo and jujutsu grappling skills specially adapted for law enforcement. A follow-up study presented the following conclusions:

Use of force incidents and use of force percentages were reduced. The average 5.6 altercations per day in 1988 reduced to 1.7 altercations per day in 1991. Certainly, other factors were involved, [EN2] but Sergeant Dossey has been quoted (at Defend University, www.defendu.com) as saying he believes this was in part due to increased confidence in handling altercations.

Injuries were reduced. Suspect injuries were down 34.6% and officer injuries were down 17.7% in 1991.

The same 5 patterns still accounted for 90% of altercations. Although the same basic patterns applied, the chance of officers receiving a punch or kick attempt increased from a 2-11% chance (depending on scenario) to a 25-71% chance (depending on scenario). Officer involved in shootings increased by 6.3% as well. Thus, it appears that even as officers became better trained, suspects were becoming more violent.




Calibre Press Survival Seminar, 2003

In its April 2003 online newsletter, Calibre Press published results of a research project completed along with PPCT Management Systems. This project measured the other side of the equation, namely the frequency in which police officers were forced to the ground by attackers. About 1,400 cases were reported by officers attending the Calibre Press Street Survival Seminar. [EN3]

Respondents were asked whether an attacker had ever attempted to force them to the ground. More than half (52%) reported this had occurred. Of that number, 60% reported that their attackers had been successful in taking them down. Of the 60% taken down, 52% reported receiving ground control training prior to the event, and 40% after.

At the time of the assault, most of the assailants were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Most of the takedown incidents occurred during domestic and other disturbance calls, or during traffic stops. These are the same situations in which the majority of officers are assaulted and killed each year (31% during disturbances, accounting for 15.6% of officer deaths, followed by traffic stops, accounting for 15.1% of officer deaths).

45% of the attempts to take the officer down occurred during interviews

40% occurred at handcuffing

10% at escort

5% during booking

Standard assault patterns took the following forms:

Pulling the officer to the ground (33%)

Pushing the officer to the ground (28%)

Tackling the officer to the ground (24%)

Kicking or punching the officer to the ground (15%)

Once the officer was down:

The subject continued to assault the officer once the officer was down (64%)

The subject fled (31%)

The subject waited for the officer to get back up to continue the fight (5%)

Of the ground fights, suspects generally continued with grappling and pinning techniques (77%), or used punches, kicks, and strikes (66%). However, in 21% of the cases, the subjects attempted to disarm the officer, with 5% being successful. As a side note, the FBI states that of 594 law enforcement officers killed between 1992 and 2001, 46 were killed with their own weapon.

On the ground, the officers tended to use weapons other than firearms:

Pepper spray (OC) was used 29% of the time

Impact weapons (sticks, batons, flashlights, handcuffs, etc.) were used 26% of the time

Hands, feet, holds, etc., were used 24% of the time

Officers used firearms in just 13 cases (less than 1% of attacks). However, during these 13 uses of firearms, three resulted in suspect fatalities.

Final Comment

Statistics should be viewed more as guidelines than as specifics. The varied situational, environmental, physical, and psychological intersections that occur within confrontations make each and every one different. However, if similar patterns occur time and again, the patterns should not be ignored.

The LAPD study does not show that “90% of fights go to the ground.” Instead, the LAPD study shows that 95% of altercations took on one of five familiar patterns (with which any street cop will be intimately familiar). It also shows that of that 95%, 62% ended up with both the officer and the suspect grappling on the ground.

Obviously, being professionally charged with restraining someone versus being primarily focused on escaping an attack will change the dynamic of a confrontation after the initial engagement. This is why I believe police in an arrest situation are more likely than a citizen in a self-defense situation to stay on the ground during a physical encounter.

Nonetheless, it is interesting to note that more than half the officers surveyed by Calibre Press reported that suspects had attempted to take them down, and that the suspects accomplished this 60% of the time. Of that number, the overwhelming majority stayed on the ground grappling with the officer (77%). When considering these patterns of assault, they are of the same nature as criminal assaults on citizens. In other words, the mechanics of an assault (versus the mechanics of arrest) do not change simply because one of the people involved is a police officer. [EN4]

To conclude, one can quibble with the exact percentages, but being on the ground happens frequently during serious altercations. Could a person’s being taken down and not having an effective means to deal with the situation increase odds of death or serious injury, either to him/herself or to the assailant? My personal view is that this is the case.

About the Author

The author is a law enforcement officer and use of force instructor in the Pacific Northwest.

Sources

Dorsey, Greg, John Sommers, and Steve Uhrig. (July 1997). “Future of Non-lethal Force Training-Reality Based & Integrating Techniques for Non-Lethal Force Training.” ASLET Use-of-Force Training Seminar, originally presented at the Los Angeles Airport Hilton and Towers, Los Angeles, California, July 10-12, 1997

Dunston, Mark S. (April 2003). “Instructor’s Corner: Ground Fighting -- Assaults on Police Officers,” Calibre Press Street Survival Newsline #630

Endnotes

EN1. The 1997 ASLET study also goes into liability concerns such as excessive force complaints, lawsuits, and settlement amounts paid out, but these are beyond the scope of this article.

EN2. During this period, TASER use increased by 76.7%. This factor should not be ignored when evaluating the reduction of altercations and suspect/officer injuries.

EN3. These seminars take place yearly throughout the United States and include officers from all walks of the law enforcement profession, from federal agents to patrol and tactical officers, detectives and corrections personnel, and any other type of sworn law enforcer.

EN4. In the cases involving violence that I have seen in which neither of the involved parties was an LEO, most had a significant portion (or at least a significant moment) during which one or both of the participants was on the ground, or fighting under conditions that were similar to ground fighting (e.g., on a bed, on a couch, etc.).

Last edited by KIT : 05-06-2008 at 10:54 AM.
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