I had responded to the call of suspicious circumstances. It was dark and cold and the sort of night that you wanted to spend in your cruiser writing reports with a cup of Starbucks on top of some parking structure and not walking around somebody’s backyard. The call had been of a fight in progress by the I-10 freeway. This was an area frequented by the Santa Monica subculture of stree people. Unlike the images of the media, we did not find many widows and orphans in their ranks, but rather dopers, parolees at large, and thugs on the run. In that part of town it may have been anything from a common domestic to gang fight in progress…or both. On arrival I was greeted by the victim with a huge gash across his face. The paramedics had arrived before me (something I had never seen before nor since…probably a mistake in dispatching). I recall the bloodied victim’s response when I asked him “Que paso hombre?”. “Machete!” I moved through the freeway underbrush quietly without even a flashlight hunting the... Read more →

Last year I wrote about The Value of Kata, and cultivating Mindlessness. And implied in the articles were how repeating patterns of combat related movements lead to the ability to execute movements without the need for any analytical thought, or as I said, mindlessly. Rather than the so-called "dead patterns", this type of training teaches the body how to move reflexively, and in doing so, allow a creativity of application that would not have been possible otherwise. In the firearms world we drill all the weapon presentation and manipulations in "dry fire" which is in itself, a form of kata training. This is done again, for the purpose of repeating the prefect movement pattern so many times that it can be executed without the need for analytical thought. The mind, having been freed for the "how" of executing the move or technique, is free to apply actions or reactions to the situation at hand. Recently I was host to our group from Italy and Switzerland here in Arizona. One of the visitors, Andrea Micheli, wanted to use the visit to... Read more →

It has almost become a cliche hasn't it? Bruce Lee's ethos of Jeet Kune Do (that is what Lee called his collective system of fighting). "Absorb What Is Useful". Sadly it has become an excuse for superficial dabbling and scanning rather than learning. After all...absorbing something only takes like what...fifteen minutes? Contrast that with the man the phrase is credited to. Lee did not give birth to himself as a martial arts icon, nor an actor. He studied a great deal. His main system - Wing Chun was a beginning, but Bruce did not dabble in that once a week. He immersed himself in it for years - longer than most casual western students would. It was the same for western fencing and bodybuilding and all the other aspects of building a combatant's body and mind that Lee studied. Contrast that with the superficial student, dabbling in something on a temporary basis, or worse, relying on a youtube clip for his training...and then exclaiming with a Lee-esque swagger that he has "absorbed" what was useful. Sorry kids...a superficial scanning of... Read more →


So Barnetmill asked about this on Warriortalk. The concept of Kata is universal. You see it in many martial disciplines (I hate the word "art"). Here is the concept applied in a very simple and basic manner...by US Soldiers... Its a way to codify, memorize, and repeat movement patterns extensively in a memorable and dynamic manner. Doing five kicks, while moving in a kata has more application and is more interesting than simply standing there and doing five kicks. Moving on. As I said in the video...just as dry practice is not an end to itself and is training for live fire, kata are for fighting. The modern understanding of kata by the martial gymnasts is that kata is an end onto itself and exists as a gymnastic demonstration of artistic and athletic prowess. Nope...wrong. The kata as we know them today all originated in Okinawa. Anything originally taught in Okinawa, then to Japan, and then to Korea, has roots in Chinese fighting systems. I studied Kyokushin Karate, and then a couple of other systems...then a non-Taekwondo Korean system...and with... Read more →

It had been a very long couple of days. My strained trapezius had been reminding me all day that I was no longer 25. And the humid Texas heat was a far cry from our dry Arizona heat. We walked into the Sushi place and downed a glass of water each before ordering the various Japanese sushi and sashimi delicacies. One member of our party had never enjoyed sushi before and images of the Terry Bradshaw commercial flashed through my mind. But after the thirst had been quenched and the first layers of raw fish had been eaten, I shook my head and asked the guys at the table - two long time staff instructors, a Navy Special Warfare operator, and a Surgeon this question. "How is it possible that men forget how to move?" I have been a fighter most of my life. Early on I was a Kyokushin Full Contact guy, a life long weight lifter, and a police officer in high risk assignments for 15 years. And since 2001, a professional trainer. Strength and the ability to... Read more →

First...the why...of course. A martial system is based on concepts, strategies, tactics. and techniques. One does not just "go fight", or "go shoot" as much as the simpletons of the American gun scene would have you believe. Fighting - whether hand or gun - is learned. Fighting must be mindless and automatic to bring victory. And for that to happen...it must be based on a series of accepted concepts that lead to a strategy of combat. And the tactics and techniques that are developed around such things must be physically memorized and trained until they can be done without analytical or conscious thought. For example, lets take our system of gunfighting. Not a theoretical matter at all, nor one based in sports. I have killed men with the things I teach you thus the system has not been diluted from the actual experience, nor been through as many clean hands as say...karate or kendo has. We define fighting by the assignment of initiative. Either you have it, and thus you begin and end the fight with nothing but timing and... Read more →

Novices concentrate on the "how" of something - Masters concentrate on the "why". You see it martial arts training all the time. Students in lines executing one movement or another, emulating the instructor. The same thing is seen in the firearms world. Lots of guys know "how" to - for example - reload the handgun, and they are spitting images of their instructor. But unless they understand "why" it is important to do it that way, they don't really know anything other than to mimic what somebody else has taught them. And it gets worse when that instructor didn't know either. Just as Karate's moves have applications that must be learned and understood, the same must be said about the far simpler martial science of pistol fighting. Often we will see somebody emulating a competition technique, or a technique that is workable only when you are a member of a team. The reasons for this usually end up with - "it looks cool". If that is the sum total of your goal in training - looking cool - or winning... Read more →


One other aspect of why we are against the often seen "shooting while yelling PC commands" is that it prevents you from shooting well. Gunfighting is a martial art and rather than minimize the study, we go the other way. Like athletic performance, we want to do everything possible to insure the surgical shooting we want to accomplish. Any visual study of top athletes reveals that they keep mouths closed when exerting. Either explosions of power, speed, or strength are made easier with a closed mouth. Moreover, watching Olympic archers, or athletes that require exactness, position their jaws and mouths the same way. Partly it has to do with clearing the airway, and partly has to do with optimizing muscular-skeletal positioning. Here is a great article on Charles Poliquin's blog - Strength Sensei Keep Your Mouth Shut to Improve Your Performance Read more →

Any field of study is based upon the traditions of its founders. The world of the gun is no different. And the generation of men who founded the art of American Gunfighting, did not hold physical fitness in high esteem. It is not to castigate them, but simply to point out that we are a product of our parents and they of their grandparents. Nobody gives birth to themselves. All that said, we certainly do not live in the world of our parents and grandparents. And we are also not limited to the information of their day. We have far more data than they did, and thus after the head start we received, we can now drive the art forward into the future. And that is true as we are making far better technical shooters today than was possible in the 1930s, or 1960s. And while men like Jordan and Bryce may have had much more experience at killing, I doubt they were better shots than the students we produce today. As well, I suspect, if Fairbairn and Applegate, and... Read more →