TRADECRAFT/OUTLAW SKILLS Feed

There is something called "a fighter's understanding". The many variables, tempos, intervals of time and distance, and nuances of the fight can take a lifetime to understand fully. Those who have been involved in combative disciplines for a lifetime know all about these. But as a teacher, I have to spend time putting these understandings and these nuances into words so to pass along the knowledge. And as I was working with the Junior Staff on his epee work recently I found myself having to verbalize these, as Sir Richard Burton called them, "sentiments of the sword". The fencing school we attend has not come to terms with the differences of classical execution, and fighting, or in this case, competitive applications. The footwork is different, the parries are different and many of the methods of setting up the attack are different as well. I have seen it all before, in Karate, and in the world of the gun. To see this dynamic again, in a totally different world, makes me think that there is some sort of developmental gap that... Read more →


Undoubtedly an extremely controversial topic, we used to work it routinely. It involves the concept of shooting an adversary directly through an interior wall. As I recall, and this is back I think early 1990s...a SWAT guy was shot by a bad guy through the wall, which brought up the discusion. In police, and sadly I suspect in your world as well, a great deal of learning takes place once something bad happens. In any case...it was as if nobody had ever thought of that back then so of course, the experimentation was on. The hard part is that urban dwellings may as well be made of paper for all the protection they offer. In fact, if one was to look at it that way it would lead to clearer thinking with tactics. Some guys use that as an indictment of the "stack" tactic, but that is wrong in my opinion. the constraints of the interior environment do place certain limits on how one can move, and specially on how a team can move. Problem = How to keep a... Read more →


All fighting men recall Bruce Lee's famous line in Enter The Dragon. "Like a finger pointing at the moon". And then Lao gets a Di Nozzo right across the back of the head for focusing on the finger and missing the point. The American gun community is like Lao, Bruce Lee's wayward student. Some one told them to be wary of placing the finger on the trigger at the wrong time and like Lao, they missed to point and grew into a trigger-fearing mob of liability freaks wanting 20 pound trigger pulls. If only we could give them all the old Di Nozzo (see the show NCIS) across the melon. By fearing the trigger, they develop a fear of shooting, and then a fear of everything. One wonders if the look under the bed for errant triggers before they go to bed. I want to examine this finger-trigger fear and shed light on the matter. My focus is simple…to win my gunfight and to help my good guys win their gunfights. A department’s liability averse policy is not even of... Read more →


Short Circuiting The OODA Loop An illustrative story: The call had come in of a trespasser using the laundry at an apartment building. It was the sort of call we all rolled our eyes and cursed the ever liberal city council of Santa Monica for drawing all the stinking bums from Los Angeles county. Regardless, patterns of movement established through years or knowledge tended to keep you safe so bullshit call or not, I parked my war wagon a few doors down and walked up to the laundry room adjacent to the alley. He was standing there washing his clothes. A typical LA street dweller…but something about him was different. I could not put it into words if you had frozen the frame and asked me to describe it. It was the way he moved maybe…or his build – not overly muscled, but not malnourished. Something told me at the instant he turned to look at me that I was in serious danger. The transient was in his mid thirties, and walked over to me, hand out stretched as if... Read more →


We have all felt it at some point, as we turn to see what it is we have felt. It is difficult to explain as it tends to drift into areas that western science cannot fully explain. The eyes of another upon us. Surveillance guys know the phenomena and try to not look at their subject directly, using glass reflections or some other manner of indirect observation rather than a direct gaze at close range. A direct gaze is not usual in western society so when someone is looking “right at you”, you take note. Why is that person focused on me, you ask. To look at a stranger intently causes alarm and concern. Not a problem most of the time, but there are times when doing that may not be wise. The African White Hunter Capstick wrote about the phenomena in his books and tried to cultivate an indirect observation method so as not to spook large animals. I bring this up for discussion as one of those specialized points that has nothing at all to apply in a... Read more →


In a visionary article in 2004, William S. Lind wrote Distance from Disorder, an article about Fourth Generation Warfare. He noted about the modern war against "terrorism", and about the rise of world tribalism - The loss of the state’s monopoly on war and on the first loyalty of its citizens and the rise of non-state entities that command people’s primary loyalty and that wage war. These entities may be gangs, religions, races and ethnic groups within races, localities, tribes, business enterprises, ideologies—the variety is almost limitless; A return to a world of cultures, not merely states, in conflict; and The manifestation of both developments—the decline of the state and the rise of alternate, often cultural, primary loyalties—not only “over there,” but in America itself. I think that twelve years later, we see that rather than limiting the scope to "warfare", the things Lind noted are applied to life itself in what may be called the post-nationalist world. The concept of "tribe" is human nature. Most people want to be a part of a like minded larger group. That has... Read more →


I am sometimes astounded at the fools that are charged with running the most powerful countries on earth. Well...OK...more than sometimes. They keep making the same assumptions and the same mistakes. The issue of the moment of course, is ISIS. The "Jay-Vee" team as the ridiculous president so foolishly called them. One wonders if the USA had acted otherwise, and followed a more "distance from disorder" mode, if ISIS would have ever come to be, but that is for debate another time. The debate is now about the ISIS/Islamic Jihad threat to the western world. Here is what we know. 1). The existence of Europe and the USA is always going to be the motivation for the terrorist to conduct terrorism. They see the world in two distinct sections. Ours incidentally is the world of the infidels and its their job...if they believe what they are told by their leaders...to make war upon us. Whether for political reasons, religious reasons, or a combination of the two, it is clear and has been since the fifth century - we can't get... Read more →


Clausewitz wrote about it as "The Fog Of War". SunTzu wrote about it as "not knowing yourself or the enemy". It is a lack of certainty. It comes from a lack of information about what is actually at hand. Without information, accurate decisions are very difficult to make. What happens is you get a bunch of educated guesses and then a tentative decision based on those guesses. That is why military planners spend more on gathering intell than on the weapons to exploit that intell. How does that play out for the individual operator? Quite simply, if one is denied the suitable intelligence to make a decision, no decision will tend to be made. And at such a time, unless there is an ingrained, and trained default response, the subject will likely freeze in place...as if he is on pause waiting for more information. One example is the shooting at the nightclub in Orlando by Mateen. Put aside the 4S issues of a midnight drink in a questionable hood for a moment and follow the discussion. Think of the circumstances... Read more →


In a recent intelligence paper, I read that it is common for terrorists to stake out and study a target before committing to action. And if such surveillance is not detected, their plans continue unabated. So in the hope of keeping you more alert, and safer, lets look at this topic to detect and then evade the surveillance team. There are two parts to this discussion. One is identifying a tail, the second is eluding them. A big part of this is daily preparation to make yourself difficult to track and to facilitate eluding any tracker. First consider equipping yourself in a way that you do not stand out in a crowd. There is a great scene in the movie "The Thomas Crown Affair" where every "suspect" is dressed the same way, facilitating Pierce Brosnan's character to elude the police. Obviously you can't cause 1000 guys to dress just like you, but you can dress in a way that you look like everyone else. Your vehicle should be fairly common if this is a concern. Keeping track of the red... Read more →