13 July 2007
The Camera Never Lies?

Fascinating account from the Force Science Research Centre. What seems especially interesting is the importance of instinctive reactions in the multiple shots - the decision to shoot had been taken and the three shots landed in around 1.8 seconds. Also, the inability of the officer, an experienced and capable-sounding guy to give accurate commands under pressure. This is especially important when we consider the need for similar commands when managing unknown contacts.

Brief, dark, and grainy, the video image is a punch to the gut.

A California sheriff's deputy trying to detain a subject who's on the ground after a high-speed chase says to him, "Get up! Get up!" The man says, "Ok, I'm gonna get up," and starts to rise. Without another word, the deputy shoots him, 3 times in quick succession.

With millions of others, you probably became a vicarious eye-witness when the scene was telecast over and over world-wide. Be honest. The man complied with an officer's command, and the shooting was not an unintentional discharge. Didn't it look like a slam-dunk case of egregious abuse of force?

Late last month [6/28/07], after less than 4 hours' deliberation following a trial that lasted over a month, a jury acquitted the deputy, Ivory Webb Jr., of attempted voluntary manslaughter and firearms assault. The charges could have sent him to prison for 18 years. For people who knew nothing more about the case than what they'd seen on TV or the Internet, the verdict seemed a puzzlement, if not an outrageous miscarriage of justice.

But jurors said the tale of the video took on a whole different flavor when considered in context with circumstances that were little known publicly until Webb's trial.

Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Research Center at Minnesota State University-Mankato, was part of the defense team. He was brought into the case "to explain the human factors behind the shooting," based on his expertise as a behavioral scientist and on FSRC's unique studies of lethal-force dynamics.

In a recent interview with Force Science News, Lewinski reprised his courtroom testimony and his insider's knowledge of the pressure-cooker confrontation that embroiled Ivory Webb and resulted in his becoming the first LEO ever charged criminally for an on-duty shooting in the history of San Bernardino County.

"It was important to paint a picture of what happened from Webb's perspective," Lewinski says. "The video was so vivid, so seemingly clear-cut, that people didn't properly factor in what led up to the shooting."

The Players. Ivory Webb was 46 years old at the time of the shooting, a former college football player (Rose Bowl '82), the son of a retired California police chief, and a veteran of nearly 10 years with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. Most of his career had been spent as a jail officer. Although he'd been on the street for over 4 years, "he had never been the primary officer on a felony vehicle stop," Lewinski says. "He performed pretty much as a backup officer."

The subjects he confronted at the shooting scene were Luis Escobedo, 22, who had a rap sheet from previous run-ins with police and would later be arrested for CCW, and Elio Carrion, 21, an Air Force senior airman and security officer.

The Chase. On the last weekend night in January, 2006, Luis Escobedo and Elio Carrion were at a late-night barbeque in Montclair, east of Los Angeles, celebrating Carrion's recent return from a 6-month stint in Iraq. They'd been "heavily" consuming beer and tequila when they decided to take a fellow partygoer's Corvette for a spin. Both had blood alcohol levels of more than double the state's legal limit.

Escobedo took the wheel (although he had no driver's license) and on a "lightly trafficked industrial road" near some railroad tracks, he opened up the sleek muscle car to see how fast it would go. Soon they passed a San Bernardino deputy who gave pursuit but couldn't keep up.

Webb, returning to patrol from another call, heard radio traffic about the chase and moments later saw the Corvette "coming directly at me. If I hadn't swerved into the other lane, they would have smashed right into me."

Webb barreled after them and soon was driving over 100 mph to keep up. The Corvette screeched around a corner, caromed off curbs, and at one point "spun around and came directly at me a second time." Before colliding, it suddenly smoked into a U-turn and wove wildly from one side of the street to another, then crashed into a cinder block wall facing opposing traffic and "hung up there." The chase had ended in the municipality of Chino.

When Webb pulled up, the vehicle was shaking as the occupants tried to force the doors open, he said. The trunk lid had popped up from the impact, blocking the view from behind. He nosed in slightly toward the right rear of the Corvette and stepped out of his patrol car.

The Confrontation. "Considering that they'd played chicken with him twice and had shown no regard for human safety with their reckless speeding, Webb reasonably assessed the car's occupants as really dangerous," Lewinski says. "He had his full uniform on, his overheads were flashing, and he had his gun and flashlight out, so there was no mistaking his authority.

"Carrion began to exit the vehicle and took a step in the direction of Webb's patrol car. Webb ordered him to show his hands clearly. Carrion didn't. Webb ordered him to get down. Carrion didn't. Inside the vehicle, Escobedo kept reaching his hands into areas Webb could not see." The deputy's commands to both subjects were repeated in a stream, with no compliance. In his frustration and concern, Webb ratcheted up his language with liberal infusions of profanity.

At trial a retired LASD lieutenant testified as a tactical expert for the prosecution and condemned Webb for not remaining "calm and assertive," as officers are trained to do. But Lewinski took Webb's words out of the context of antiseptic Monday morning quarterbacking and put them in the context of his on-the-spot fears.

The chase had led the deputy into an unfamiliar section of Chino and, essentially, "he was lost," Lewinski says. He knew the street he was on but in the blur of the pursuit he'd had a hard time tracking the cross streets. Several times he named the nearest intersection incorrectly when radioing for help. Deputies trying to reach him sometimes cited directions and their own locations erroneously, too.

The two suspects could overhear the radio jabber. "Webb knew that they knew his back up couldn't find him and that he was all alone with two drunken young men who were not complying with any of his orders," Lewinski says.

The pair was physically separated, so Webb constantly had to shift his focus and his flashlight from one to the other to keep tabs on their actions. And they kept trying verbally to intimidate him, Lewinski explains. "Carrion at one point told the deputy, 'I've spent more time than you in the fuckin' police, in the fuckin' military.'

"Webb recognized all this from his jail experience as a common tactic among gangbangers: separate, keep up a barrage of chatter to distract, then attack. Webb ordered them to shut up, but they didn't."

At a point when Carrion had gotten within his reactionary gap, Webb kicked him to take him to the ground. (The prosecution's expert would claim later that police are not trained to kick suspects because it puts them off-balance. But Lewinski points out that in fact kicks and leg strikes are common staples in contemporary defensive tactics.) On the ground, Carrion was propped up on his arms, "controlled to some degree" but not proned out like Webb wanted.

The grinding crash of the speeding Corvette against the wall and the flashing lights and all the yelling that followed had alerted a used car salesman living across the street that something worth filming was going down. He grabbed his Sony digital zoom camera and started recording after Carrion climbed out of the car.

This man, a Cuban refugee, was wanted on old felony warrants for aggravated assault in Florida. His past would surface after his sensational footage saturated the airwaves.

But for now, his camera was about to capture what photographers call "the money shot."

The Shooting. When the video was first reviewed and broadcast, the figures of Webb and Carrion could be grossly seen on the darkened street, the deputy with his gun out standing over the semi-grounded suspect. But subtleties were hard to distinguish. The audio track, too, was tough to make out, although what could be heard sounded discouragingly incriminating.
Carrion: We're here on your side. We mean you no harm.
Webb: OK, get up! (inaudible) Get up!
Carrion: OK, I'm just gonna get up.

Carrion starts to move up. Three shots ring out from Webb's .45. Carrion is hit in the left shoulder, the left thigh, and the left ribs. He's critically wounded but survives.

The digital recording was "enhanced" by an FBI laboratory to reveal more visual detail. Through ultra-sophisticated technology of David Notowitz, a video expert engaged by Webb's attorneys, it was then enhanced even further, to the point that images were recovered from a section of the recording that seemingly had been completely whited out by the amateur cameraman ineptly fiddling with the controls.

Webb had experienced difficulty articulating precisely what happened just before he started shooting. In Lewinski's opinion, he suffered memory problems that are not uncommon after high-intensity officer-involved shootings. "But when the enhanced footage was slowed down and time coded so we could study the action fragment by fragment, I became convinced he was reacting instinctively to a legitimate perceived threat."

As Carrion braces on his hands, resistant to going fully to the ground, he first can be seen jabbing a hand up toward Webb's gun. The weapon is well within his grasp, but he quickly lowers his hand without attempting a grab.

Then the video confirms that he twice reaches his hand inside his black Raiders jacket. Carrion would claim on the witness stand that he was just pointing to his chest. "But the enhanced image shows his hand buried in the jacket up to the knuckles," Lewinski says. "It was definitely inside."

Less than a second later, Webb jerks his gun barrel up slightly as if motioning with it as he commands, "Get up! Get up!"

"He's talking to the hand, focusing on it," Lewinski says. "What I sincerely believe he was thinking was, 'Get your hand up,' meaning get it away from where you may have a weapon hidden and out where I can see it. But the words came out different than his thought.

"Some of our studies have shown that when officers feel they are in control of a situation, they tend to give clear and relevant commands. But when they feel out of control, their commands often deteriorate. For Ivory Webb, that was an enormously stressful situation and there was nothing he felt in control of.

"Under stress and time compression, people commonly experience slips between thought and speech." En Route to the trial, for example, Lewinski asked a harried airline ticket agent for directions to a travelers' lounge. "Down there," she said-and pointed up. Even the prosecutor while cross-examining Lewinski misspoke in referencing something, and apologized for it. "It's easy to do, isn't it?" Lewinski softly replied.

Lewinski cited a case of an officer who, facing a suspect with a knife, repeatedly shouted "Show me your hands!" even though both hands were visible. The officer was trying to say "Drop the knife" but "resorted to familiar commands from his training under stress," Lewinski explained.

In the uncertain and rapidly evolving circumstances on the street in Chino, Carrion reaching into his jacket had "extremely threatening implications," Lewinski says. "He turned out not to be armed, but Webb couldn't know that. For the first time in the encounter, Carrion obeyed the command he heard. He began to rise up and a little forward, like starting to lunge. Webb had already made the decision to fire, thinking his life was in jeopardy, and pulled the trigger."

A tactics expert who volunteered for the defense, Sgt. Kenton Ferrin of Inglewood (CA) PD, said he would have shot under the same circumstances. Webb "thought he was going to die," Ferrin testified.

The prosecutor's expert, however, asserted that each of Webb's shots was a deliberate decision, bolstering the contention that the deputy in effect had committed a cold, calculating execution. But Lewinski pointed out that the time-coded video enhancement showed there was just 6/10 of a second between each round. He explained that FSRC's time-and-motion studies had proven that in that tight sequencing, with both the officer and the subject moving slightly, there's no possibility of conscious decision-making prompting each shot. "At that point, after the first round, it was just an instinctive process."

"The purpose of Dr. Lewinski's testimony," says Webb's attorney Michael Schwartz of the Santa Monica law firm Silver, Hadden, Silver, Wexler and Levine, "was to help the jury see that behavior the prosecution considered grounds for suspicion and criminal action could, in fact, be understood as common human behavior in circumstances of extreme stress."

The Outcome. The first poll inside the jury room was 11 for acquittal, 1 for conviction. The dissenter soon changed his mind. When the verdict was announced, Ivory Webb burst into tears and praised God.

That was just the first of the legal challenges he faces. Elio Carrion and his family have asked federal authorities to bring criminal charges against Webb, and a civil suit has of course been filed.

Meanwhile, with cell phone cameras and camcorders proliferating, a profusion of controversial police actions seems destined in days ahead to be seen and judged by millions who understand little about them.

After the Webb verdict, a reporter for the Associated Press interviewed Eugene O'Donnell, a former cop and prosecutor who now teaches police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.

"Videos are drenched with caveats," O'Donnell cautioned. "One thing we've learned about videos is that there are often missing pieces."

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04 July 2007
A Quiet Mugging

From a link on TPI, I came across the following posted in theAikido Journal.

About a year ago, I was mugged (this article was mostly written at that time) on a BART train while returning from visiting a friend on the Eastern Bay of Northern California. I had been sensing sketchy vibes on the train right from the beginning: it was packed full of unsavory, creepy characters, wannabe gang members, or otherwise hardened, indifferent looking people who clearly had high mental barriers erected all around them. After the incident, I later wondered to myself: in attempting to retain a calm and relaxed mindset in the context of an unfamiliar and potentially threatening environment, perhaps the crudeness of atemi is sometimes the most sensible move.
I was sitting innocuously in my seat, when a thuggish looking African American man, age 25-30, came up and sat down next to me. I graciously offered the seat and even moved over for him! Imagine that. This action tied in directly to emotions and philosophies I had been grappling with during this time period related to sensing others’ energy around me and the openness (or lack thereof) of people to one another in the context of a public environment.
The previous day, while in San Francisco, I had been feeling particularly open, and the energy I observed and felt from people was almost overwhelming—I was exhausted by the end of the day. The trick to the best kind of empathy is to feel others’ emotions without letting them stay inside you; you have to let them flow through you or else you’ll going to be rendered helpless—or be taken advantage of, in this case. In the past day I had offered lychee fruit to three total strangers, feeling happy with myself for breaking down typical social barriers, thinking of all the times poor people in alleyways and trains in Morocco and China offered me food…
But then, this is America. I forgot. I forgot that we live in the most violent first-world society on the planet, even eclipsing quite a few less developed countries in our rates of homicide and levels of social and economic equality—largely relics of slavery, I am sure, considering the majority of both victims and perpetrators of violent crime in this country are young, black males.
This guy reeked of cigarette smoke. His teeth were yellow and silver. He leaned over and whispered, speaking softly to me. At first I thought he was just selling something. The second he started talking I knew I shouldn’t have let him sit down, but I was trapped by then; I allowed him entry in trying to blend in and not show fear or surprise in response to his swagger. I first thought he was trying to sell me drugs, as he had said something about “10 dollars.” Months of practice dodging scammers and potentially hazardous situations across alleyways and bus stations through unfamiliar places during travel experiences started flushing back to me. In a well-rehearsed monotone, I said, “Sorry, I’m not interested,” and turned away.
It was then that he said, very softly in a slight drawl (and it was this calm indifference that was the most frightening part), “No nigga, give *me* ten dollars…I got a piece.” He gently opened his jacket to show a slight bulge in his side pocket.
I stopped here and I realized how wrong and foolish I had been and I struggled to retain my composure. I suddenly realized that, for starters, I had no money in my wallet in the first place —and a very strong, warm rushing feeling of blood swept through my whole chest and spine. I began to recall stories about robbers killing their victims in a fit of rage when it turned out they didn’t have any money.
I said calmly, “I don’t have any money, I only have change.” He lowered his demand slightly, “Give me three dollars.” Pretty laughable, in retrospect. I realize all along he could have been bluffing, but was it worth dying over? As much as I was later outraged that this was allowed to transpire at 7:30 PM on public transportation surrounded by other people, at the time, I was not so much worried that he would truly be stupid enough to shoot me on board; I was more afraid of he and his friends following me out of the station after I got off.
All the same, I was wondering what was best to do. Should I call out? Just say no? My mom told me I should have gotten mad and said something like, “What!? Are you out of your ****ing mind?! Get the **** out of my ****ing face. This is a tactic that might work well for my mom, a 45-year old 5’4 woman, because people don’t expect a small white woman to be so aggressive and it throws them off guard. It’s part of why she’s such a fearsome lawyer, and I also know that she successfully warded off would-be attackers in the past. However, I felt that such a tactic was a little risky for myself.
I pulled out all the change from my pockets. “Gimme the money, yeah, give me all the money,” he repeated; it just so happened that I happened to have just about exactly three dollars in quarters.
As I was handing them to him, I said, “Will this help you get somewhere?”
“Do you need this, will this help you get where you need to go?”
“Ok, then take it, if you need it, I hope it helps you.”
It seems absurd in retrospect, but I think this was part of how I dealt with the situation to make it less scary; ho ho ho! Certainly this gentlemen isn’t threatening me bodily harm; I’m voluntarily giving money to someone who needs it! I think this rationalization just helped me get through these moments and allowed me to continue to act as calm and normal as possible.
Thankfully, he then left the seat and I quickly changed cars. He and his friends got off at the next stop. I got off two stops later.
I was relieved but shook up. I later felt sad and upset, not so much that this had happened to me, but that this could happen in such a veil of normalcy within a small radius of one of the wealthiest areas in the world.

I must admit I'm really not sure what to make of this.

The victim (and make no mistake, that's what he was, claims of voluntay charity aside) survived a potentially lethal encounter. It cost him a few bucks and he got home safe. However there is more to it than that.

" I had been sensing sketchy vibes on the train right from the beginning". There's the first fucking clue. If that is the case then MOVE. Get off the train and wait for another. Move to a different carriage. Don't just sit there iwth your head down and hope it will all be OK. Why is he sitting down in that situation? Sitting reduces your mobility and makes it very easy for a guy to corner you - as happened here.

I can't help but feel that the talk of energy and sadness at the inequalities of the world mask a lack of understanding about the realities of self protection, off the mat. perhaps less time handing out fruit to passers-by and more time in the real world?

I do like the comment made by J. Sorrentino:

However, given that the robbers chose YOU, rather than any of the other “hardened, indifferent looking people who clearly had high mental barriers erected all around them,” perhaps it is time for you to develop those skills. At the very least, it will give you the psychological tools to use when empathy and grace are not appropriate.

Any thoughts?

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28 June 2007

Phil Matthews, one of the Liverpool Gutterfighters has written a new article titled CQB Services » W.E. FAIRBAIRN- THE LEGENDARY INSTRUCTOR.

Phil has a good understanding and excellent knowledge of Fairbairn and his contemporaries and this article has some useful facts for the student of modern combatives. Whilst his writing is not of the usual academic standard he is to commended for getting this information out there.

One issue though is Phil's constant reference to people who criticise his work or 'steal' his information. I really don't know who these people are but I'm not sure that refusing to list your sources is the way forward. To me this detracts from the authority of the article. If people are plagiarising Phil's work then he can point this out to the relevant audience. If they are quoting him then that is normal order of things. Ones cademic research works build on those of ones peers. Trying to control access to information you have published on the net is an exercise in futility.

Anyway - enjoy the article, and well done Phil.

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31 May 2007
Greek Fire, Noxious Vapours and Medieval Tear Gas

Despite not understanding what constitutes a WMD, Jonathan Wicken has a nice little article on the use of chemical weapons in the ancient and medieval world.

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16 May 2007
More Vigny Goodness

Craig Gemeiner has just had a nice little article published in Black Belt magazine*. Way to go Craig.

Here it is below:

Craig's BB Article.pdf

*The World's Leading Magazine Of Self Defence. Apparently. Looking at some of the crap it seems to be peddling you may be better off rolling it up and using it to stab someone.

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17 April 2007
Outlaw arms and you arm outlaws

So says... The Telegraph?


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Virginia Tech

I'm deeply saddened by the news of so many murders at Virginia Tech. A profoundly tragic and potentially preventable event.

Pommygranate has some very interesting thoughts on the matter.

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05 March 2007
When God Sanctions Killing

Interesting article on the relationship between religion and violence, courtesy of Matt Bonobo at the Schola G Forum.

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02 March 2007
Reason Magazine - Guns Don't Kill People, Gun Control Kills People

Reason Magazine - Guns Don't Kill People, Gun Control Kills People
The country of Uganda plans to send about 1,500 troops to Somalia as part of an African Union peace-keeping force. The goal is to stabilize the weak government of Somalia, with the hope that the warlords will voluntarily disarm. Hopefully, Ugandan troops will be more successful in Somalia than they have in their own country.

For months now, Ugandan army troops have been garrisoned in the northeast part of the country under orders to disarm the local populace—pastoral, cattle-herding tribes known as the Karamojong. The army is attempting, and failing, to quash an uprising which was caused by a prior attempt to disarm the same tribes.

But in its effort to "disarm," the Ugandan army, supported by tanks and helicopter gunships, is burning down villages, sexually torturing men, raping women, and plundering what few possessions the tribespeople own. Tens of thousands of victims have been turned into refugees. Human rights scholar Ben Knighton has used the term “ethnocide” to describe the army's campaign.

This is not the first time the central government in Kampala, Uganda, has persecuted the Karamojong. During the Idi Amin regime, the Karamojong were selected as special targets for genocide. Against Amin's armies, their traditional bows and arrows were futile. So it's understandable why they'd be reluctant to voluntarily lay down their weapons.

This time, the pretext for the "disarmament" of the Karamojong is United Nations gun control. The Ugandan military is trying to round up every last firearm in Karamoja, supposedly for the Karamojong's own good.

The procedure is euphemistically called “forcible disarmament.” It works something like this: The misnamed Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) will torture and rape Karamajong, after which some Karamojong might then disclose the location of some hidden guns. Or the army will burn down a village, after which it might find some guns in the ash left behind.

If the pastoral tribespeople's bloody history with Amin weren't enough, they don't much have reason to trust the current government of Uganda, either. The current government has repeatedly broken its promises of goods, services, and personal protection for tribespeople who voluntarily disarmed.

According to David Pulkol, the former Director of External Security Organisation (part of the Ugandan government’s intelligence agency), the disarmament process is a tactic to facilitate robbing the Karamojong of their resources. The Daily Monitor newspaper, for example, reports that the Ugandan government has announced plans to confiscate “about 1,903 sq km out of the total area of 2,304 sq km of the Pian Upe game reserve” for private investment purposes.

This government predation has naturally sparked resistance. More and more Karamojong are wearing traditional ethnic garb—not only as a symbol of solidarity, but also because the loose clothing makes it so easy to conceal weapons. The tribes are also uniting and improving their tactical skills. The weapons that had been taken by the government have been replaced by better ones from the ubiquitous black market. The helicopters that have been bombing the populace and burning their villages are now at risk from high-powered rifles. The Karamojong women aren't remaining passive while their families suffer, starve, and die, either. Some Karamojong widows have taken their husband’s firearms and are actively defending themselves, their families, and their cattle.

Last summer, the Ugandan army's atrocities led the United Nations Development Programme to cut off its disarmament aid to Uganda. But the outrage didn't last long. This year, the aid was restored. Although the United Nations does not fund the Ugandan army, the UN does provide a public relations sanction for the disarmament. In November, Louise Arbour, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated: “The actions of the UPDF do not comply with international human rights law and domestic law.” But, she also stipulated, “the decision of the Government to undertake renewed efforts to eradicate illegal weapons in Karamoja is essential….” Never mind that the disarmament campaign also eradicates people.

If the Karamojong didn’t have to worry about the central government targeting them for genocide, or stealing their land, one could possibly make an argument that they would be better off without guns. The various tribes have a long tradition of inter-tribal cattle rustling, and the cattle-raiding would undoubtedly be less dangerous if perpetrated with stone-age weapons instead of AK-47s. But as a practical matter, there have been numerous instances of civilians who have voluntarily disarmed, and were then—despite government promises of protection—robbed by the competing tribes who remained armed. And the loss of even a small number of cattle can place a subsistence level family at risk of starvation. Of course, cattle-rustling never led to the deliberate destruction of entire villages, turning thousands of people into refugees. Nor has it ever paved the way for government theft of the land the tribespeople need to survive.

The number of illegally possessed firearms prior to the disarmament campaign had been estimated at between 50,000 and 150,000. On November 10, New Vision reported that “since this year began, they have recovered 4,500 guns.” So the Ugandan government is wiping out the very people the government ostensibly claims to protect, and that "protection" amounts to just 3-9 percent of unauthorized weapons. And all the while, the Ugandan government is using its own guns to destroy Karamoja, burn villages, slaughter the defenseless, and perpetrate ethnocide.

Seems like the kind of "protection" the Karamojong could live without.

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26 February 2007
And Another Cool Old School Gun Article

This time Bruce Nelson is discussing the quick draw. Ignore the wacky late 70s 'tache and there is some gold info there.

It's a shame we don't have that section on how to become a paid federal informant though...

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23 February 2007
Holster Analysis Article

The fine chaps at TPI provided this article which I have turned into a PDF. Interesting reading.

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21 February 2007
Penny Arcade! - Now With Aromax

I do enjoy the wat the guys at Penny Arcade write, especially when I see them doing what they do best and mocking the foolish and credulous. Below is a prime example:

You might have seen this story on CNN about the teens that murdered a homeless guy and then equated it to the sort of thrill one might get from a “violent video game”. There will be plenty of articles focusing on these kids and their crime. I’d like to take a second and talk about the parents of these teenagers instead. It is the job of a parent to teach their children certain rules. Obviously the rules themselves and the emphasis each family places on them will vary, but there are certain universal constants that these parents obviously failed to pass on.

Things the parents of these kids failed to teach them(in order of their severity):

1. Don’t drink until you’re 21.

Now this is a tough one. The 15 year old boys have admitted they were sharing beers with the homeless man. This is a difficult rule to enforce with many kids and that’s why I’ve listed first.

2. Don’t do drugs.

In addition to their beers these lads told investigators they had just finished rolling some phat doobie blunts, or whatever it is they do these days. This is an important one but also very difficult to enforce. I’d say it’s a notch above drinking but we’re still dealing with pretty common teenager issues.

3. Don’t murder people.

Ah here’s a big one. I wonder, did the parents simply avoid the “don’t murder people” talk the way other parents might avoid the “sex” talk? Maybe one day as the father was running off to work the mother called behind him,” Don’t forget, you promised to talk to Chris about not murdering people today!” The husband already half way out the door would holler back “Yeah yeah, I’ll do it when I get home tonight.”

4. Don’t take shit out of your butt and rub it on the hobo you just killed.

To me this seems like the easiest lesson of all. My son is only two and already he’s coming to understand that “poops” belong in the potty. How did this kid get to the age of fifteen years old without learning this? Here’s how easy this one is:

Hey son, come here real quick.

Yeah Dad?

Don’t take shit out of your butt.

Sure thing Dad.

Done! How hard was that? What kind of crazy fuck takes poop from his butt and rubs it on someone? I’ll tell you right now I’ve never seen that in Grand Theft Auto. These kids were twelve kinds of nuts and that’s a fact. Their parents either made them nuts or weren’t paying attention while they went nuts on their own. I don’t know which scenario is worse.

-Gabe out

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13 February 2007
A few interesting WMA Articles

Ignoring the slightly cringey dressing up, there a few interestng articles on the Cateran Society site.

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12 February 2007
Urban Preparation Kit by Schwert

Two interesting little articles on Urban Preparedness I and II.

The basic premise is of a layered protective system, with a basic on-body-kit supplemented by a coat kit, a bag kit, a desk kit, a car kit and a home kit. It is also interesting that these kits are deisigned to be used every day, not just sealed up and left for when hell finally fills up.

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29 January 2007
Fighting the Trained Wolf Pack

Via a link on TPI, this excellent article from Darren Laur.

Fighting multiples is a nightmare scenario. When thay have trained to act cohesively then you have a real problem.

It is interesting that the same principles which are key for more standard situations become even more important here - awareness, movement and violence of action.

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02 January 2007
Layers of Response

Excellent post by James Yeager on Layered Responses.

Often the Self Protection community pays lip service to the idea of awarenss and avoidance. It is described as the most important thing, but never actually trained or drilled. After all it is much easier to hit the pads or BOB than work through the mechanics of something as nebulous as awareness.

Whilst James' post doesn't give drills as such, it does offer an excellent paradigm for considering the "protective lifestyle".

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25 October 2006
A Training Plan for the "Prepared Citizen"

The concept of the prepared citizen is an important one. For me, being prepared is a moral, as well as practical duty. I refuse to abdicate responsibility for my safety to the authorities, especially when they do such a poor job of it.

Preparation covers many, many areas from self-protection ability, first aid and knowing how to swim through to knowing how to store and prepare food. Simply put being prepared is knowing how to be a fully functional human animal.

Loudernhel at TPI has written the following article which gives a good idea of what is involved. Of course he writes for the US citizen but most of principles will apply equally in the UK.

This article had its genesis in a previous essay called “KSA’s for the Everyday Warrior.” I’ve decided to both revisit the topic and change the name. Unfortunately, the term “warrior,” much like its close cousin “hero,” has become so overused it is in jeopardy of having its meaning diluted. Therefore I’ve settled on the word “Prepared Citizen,” as I think this best describes the type of person I’m talking about here.

Please note that this list is merely an attempt to start a conversation, with the hopes that people who know more than me, and have a different perspective, will weigh in. It is a first draft and very malleable. I’m actively seeking comment and if you have constructive criticisms or additions, I would be honored to listen to them.

I have two goals:

The primary goal is to design a general training regimen that would prepare an ordinary citizen to survive acute emergencies such as a violent attack or "SHTF" type situation of short duration such as earthquake aftermath, hurricanes, civil unrest and etc. Survivalist, "end of the world as we know it" scenarios are beyond the scope of this, although there is certainly overlap in skills.

A secondary goal is research for a book that a friend of mine and I have talked about writing.

I’ve attempted to list a core set of skills. I’ve broken them down into “basic, intermediate and advanced” levels, because I think it is important to keep an overall perspective in our training. It makes little sense to me to spend the time, effort and money to become an “advanced” carbine shooter but pay absolutely no attention to empty hand skills, for example.

First a definition:

Prepared Citizen: Your ordinary, average person who is realizes that from time to time, life threatening emergencies may arise where the “proper authorities” may not be around to help. The Prepared Citizen is willing to step up and accept the responsibility for the safety of his or her self, his family, and perhaps his neighbors. The Prepared Citizen also enjoys side benefits of self confidence and advanced problem solving skills that come with training.

He is "Joe or Suzy Homemaker." He or she is a "civilian" not an "operator." Most of the "missions" he or she goes on involve getting a gallon of milk or taking the kids to swim practice. This is good and bad. Exposure to violence is much less likely. However, "professionals" whose job description includes dealing with violence, go forth expecting it and are generally paid to spend a certain amount of time training for it.

Any time he or she spends training is time that has to be squeezed into the demands of family, work and other expectations. Some families are comprised of warriors and may train together but most likely, he or she is the only one with an interest.

Any money that is spent has to be balanced against the mortgage, saving for the kid’s college, and orthodontist bills.

1) The Ability to unplug your ego.

You recognize the importance of self control in avoiding confrontation. You recognize that you may have some skills already, but learning is a never ending path. You do not fall victim to “The Rapture of The Shallows” and realize no matter how good you get at something, you can always improve.

The only thing worth fighting about is survival. The guy who cut you off in traffic is not worth fighting about. The guy who stood across the street and made the lewd comment about your wife is not worth fighting about.

When it comes to training, you have an open mind. For example, even if you have trained doing a tactical reload one way for years, if someone presents another, you will happily try it to see if it is better.

When it comes to the street, you are unflappable. When it comes to training, you absorb what is useful, regardless of source or preconception.

2) The Ability to blend in.
You recognize that one of the fundamentals of avoidance is to not attract special notice. You have political, religious and other beliefs but feel no particular need to advertise.

In dress, appearance and manner, you are not terribly remarkable, yet you also do not present a “victim” image.

You are the gray man.

3) The Knowledge of Use of Force Laws civil liability.

You recognize the importance of knowing your jurisdiction’s black letter and case law regarding use of force. You recognize that the moment you become involved with the criminal justice system or a civil suit, you loose, it is just a question of how much.

You had solid training in use of force and liability issues for the layman. You have a business card for both a criminal and civil attorney. If you were to become involved in a use of force incident, you would make decisions in accordance with the law, and be able to clearly articulate why you did so.


4) The Ability to be aware of your surroundings.

You recognize that the fundamental first step of avoidance of conflict is awareness of the potential. You focus on your surroundings as you go about your business.

You notice subtle clues in human behavior that are potential precursors to violence or unpleasantness in time to leave, or at least in time to brace yourself.

Little escapes your notice. You can remember descriptions of people, vehicles and events that at the time seemed unremarkable.

5) The Ability to Verbalize and Social Engineer

You recognize that your ability to talk to people is a useful defensive tool. You have perhaps read “Verbal Judo” or a similar book.

You are comfortable talking to people of all backgrounds, mental states and degrees of intoxication. You are able to firmly establish boundaries verbally without egging on conflict.


6) Skill at Strength and Conditioning

You recognize that you are fire more likely to die from heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure than a criminal assault. You recognize that fighting is a dynamic, physical activity and that no training, weapon or tool will make up for being out of shape. You formulate a fitness plan that includes diet and working on basic flexibility and cardio-vascular training.

You are at or within a few percent of an ideal weight for your body. Your cardiovascular fitness, flexibility and strength are adequate to survive a short violent encounter or emergency situation.

You are as fit as many professional athletes. You will probably out live all of us.

7) Skill at empty hand defensive techniques

You recognize that use of force happens on a continuum, and the basis for all other skills is good, solid, simple empty hand techniques. You seek formal training and begin to learn basic blocks, strikes, choke escapes, ground fighting and etc.

Instead of learning more complicated “fancy” techniques, you focus on delivering the basics with more speed, precision and power. You start integrating your empty hand with other use of force options.

You have developed speed, precision, and power in simple, direct, combat proven skills. Your transition between one type of use of force and another is seamless.

8) Skill at using OC spray.

You recognize the importance of intermediate weapons. You receive formal training in the use of OC spray.

9) Skill at using impact weapons, both designed and improvised.

You recognize the importance of intermediate weapons. You adopt some of your basic empty hand techniques (hammer fists, etc) to include a striking object such as a Kubaton, small flashlight etc.

You have formal short term training with impact weapons, such as a Kubaton class or ASP baton class. You begin long term training in one of the stick fighting disciplines. You start to integrate these techniques with your other skills.

You continue formal training. Your transition from one type of use of force to another is seamless. You could pick up just about anything vaguely stick shaped and defend yourself with it.

10) Skill at using a knife, and defending against knives.

You recognize the deadly threat that even a small edged weapon poses, and also realize that in many situations, the knife may be a better defensive tool than a gun. You can adopt some of your basic empty hand techniques to include a knife.
You attend formal training at a knife seminar and begin to integrate knives into your defensive repertoire. You may begin long term training in one of the knife based arts.


You continue training with the knife. Your integration is seamless.

11) Skill at using a handgun.

You recognize that while it is a valuable tool, a handgun does not make up for a lack of training in other areas, nor is it a guaranteed “fight stopper.” You have received formal training and can manipulate and handle a handgun without being a safety hazard to yourself and others. You are able to safely draw from a holster and shoot in a static “square range” environment.

You have received formal training on shooting and movement together. You have achieved speed with drawing, shooting, reloading and other gun related tactical skills. You are integrating your firearms skills with other use of force skills.

You continue to develop skills and integrate them.

12) Skill at using a short range long arm.

Note: The term “Short Range Long Arm” is somewhat clunky, but I wanted to differentiate between to different skill sets. “Short Range Long Arm” skills are from contact range out to perhaps 30 yards (for buckshot loaded shotguns) to 100 or 150 yards (for rifles/carbines and maybe shotgun slugs).

You recognize that if you are going to participate in a gunfight, it is best to have some sort of long gun around. You have received formal training and are able to safely manipulate and handle a long gun without being a safety hazard to yourself or others. You practice combat shooting skills in a “square range” static environment.

You have received formal training in shooting and movement together. You can transition from long gun to handgun or other use of force option.


13) Skill at using a long range long arm.

Note: Again “Long Range Long Arm” is clunky. This skill set is for shooting at ranges over 150 yards or so, out to the limit of the equipment and shooter.

You have received formal training and can safely manipulate a long gun without being a safety hazard to your self and others. You have a basic understanding of exterior ballistics and can zero your weapon for a specific range. You can reliably achieve good hits within the point blank zero of the weapon, and in calm wind conditions. You know what shots not to take.

You are developing skills for estimating range and the effects of wind, and are able to compensate for them. At this point you may actually begin to shoot at the mechanical limits of your equipment and have to upgrade.

If you can see it, you can hit it.

14) Skill at driving a vehicle

You practice basic safe driving skills, awareness and maintain your vehicle in good condition. You always leave yourself a path of escape. You recognize that the front bumper of a Geo Metro has more “stopping power” than any firearm.

You have some skill at driving off road. You take a class in evasive driving. You know the limits of your vehicle, how high a curb it can clear, how it handles on wet grass and etc.

You have received training in offensive driving and can PIT and perform similar techniques.

15) Skill at moving tactically

You recognize that there may be little call for the ordinary citizen to clear a building going INTO harm’s way, you may have to clear your way OUT of harm’s way. You have received formal training and understand concepts such as cover, concealment, slicing the pie. You have received training in low light techniques and tactical use of a flashlight.

Tactical movement, weapons skills and flashlight skills are becoming integrated with all your other skills.

16) Skill at providing emergency medical treatment

You have taken a Red Cross (or similar) Basic First aid and CPR class. You carry basic medical supplies such as a gloves and a CPR mask at all times.

You have taken advanced First Aid, First Responder, or (ideally) Wilderness First Responder training. You carry basic medical supplies such as gloves, a CPR mask and a blow out kit at all times and have ready access to a trauma kit.

You are an EMT, Paramedic, Nurse, M.D. or similar healthcare professional. You carry basic medical supplies such as gloves, a CPR mask and a blow out kit at all times and have ready access to a trauma kit and other drugs and tools appropriate to your level of training.

17) Environment survival skills

You have a basic understanding of the pricipals of survival and either formal training or some experience in back country living. You could keep your self alive by finding shelter if out alone in moderate conditions. You can reasonably expect not to get lost with a map and a GPS or compass. You can fabricate crude shelters and build a fire in moderate conditions.

If out in moderate conditions, you could actually survive in comfort for quite some time. You could survive extreme conditions for a short period of time. You can easily fabricate shelter and can make a fire in less than ideal conditions. You can reliably navigate with map and compass.

You can survive with minimal equipment for an extended period of time, fabricating your own shelter and foraging for safe food and water. You can navigate by stars and dead reckoning with survivable accuracy. You are tempted to live on a mountain with a pet bear and a cantankerous prospector as your only friends.

That’s where I’m at right now. What would you add, take away, change or move? And most importantly, why?

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The Neural Based Operator

Very interesting article by Marcus Wynne.

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The Default

I'm a big fan of default defences. A diagnostic defense or block as seen in most traditional martial arts (TMAs) is just too slow to deal with a sudden assault, especially when the attacker has verbaled his way under your guard. Lee Morrison has put together a very comprehensive article on the matter which can be found here.

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Article on Unknown Contact Management

The following is from an aticle published by the Force Science News, posted by Southnarc at TPI.


Are there similarities between a driver on a cell phone and an officer in a

You bet! claims Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science
Research Center at Minnesota State University-Mankato. And 2 independent
studies offer fresh insights into the parallels, which may help officers
defend themselves in controversial force encounters.

Lewinski has long maintained that in any life-threatening confrontation an
officer's perceptions and memories are influenced more by what his
attention is focused on during the conflict than by what actually passes
before his eyes. Investigators, review boards, prosecutors and others
assessing the officer's decision making and later recollections need to
take this into account, Lewinski insists, rather than expect infallible
judgment and comprehensive recall and then suspect criminal culpability
when shortcomings emerge.

Research findings reported recently at a meeting of the American
Psychological Assn. in New Orleans support this position. "The fact that
the studies involve drivers using cell phones is not what's important
here," Lewinski stresses. "What matters most are the principles involved,
and those can reasonably be applied to officers in shooting situations."

One study involves a series of experiments conducted by psychologist David
Strayer and others at the University of Utah, who sought to learn more
about the relationship between cell phone conversations and the phenomenon
called "inattention blindness"--not seeing things you look at because your
brain is more intensely focused on something else.

Strayer and teammates monitored male and females subjects in a
sophisticated driving simulator and recorded how their performance while
engaged in conversation on a cell phone compared to their "driving" without
any cell-phone distraction.

First let's look at the findings, then we'll relate them to a shooting

Among other things, Strayer's research confirms:

--Drivers are much more likely to rear-end the car in front of them when
talking or listening on a cell phone in heavy-traffic situations. This is
because their perception of and reaction to vehicles braking in front of
them are slowed when they're on the phone. Drivers in the study tended
"sluggishly" to hit the brakes later and, if a collision was avoided, to
hold the brake pedal longer than they did when not occupied with a cell
conversation. Indeed, a twenty-something's reactions when engaged with the
phone equated to what would normally be expected of a 70 year old.

--Cell phone use significantly impairs memory. As the subjects "drove,"
digital billboards appeared beside the simulated roadway. In a surprise
quiz afterwards, drivers were able to recall more thoroughly and accurately
those signs they had passed while they were not having a phone
conversation. As the researchers put it, cell phone chatting induced
"failures of visual attention"--that is, inattention blindness--to objects
encountered in the driving scene.

--This is true not only for what passed in the subjects' peripheral vision.
Cell phone conversations "reduce attention to objects even when drivers
look directly at them," the researchers found. Billboards seen when the
subjects were engaged in phone conversation were less than half as likely
to be remembered than those that appeared when the drivers were not on the

Because the cell phone involved in the Strayer experiments was a hands-free
model, the documented interference with perception and memory could not
have been caused by manual manipulation of the phone itself.

Instead, the researchers concluded, the significant "disruptive effects of
cell phone conversations...are due...to the diversion of attention from
driving to the phone." That is, the brain makes a shift away from an
external, visual focus related to driving to an internal cognitive
concentration required for the phone conversation, with the result that
much of what was "seen" did not actually register.

The brain has a limited capacity for attention, Strayer explained, so
whatever is siphoned off by the cell phone is subtracted from attention to
driving. He says that being engaged on the phone cuts in half a driver's
measurable brain activity in a key area of the brain needed for tracking
traffic conditions.

While on a cell phone, drivers can be "as blind to a child running across
the street as to a Dumpster beside the road," Strayer says.

If a cell phone conversation is distracting enough to induce significant
inattention-blindness, Lewinski observes, "imagine the distraction
potential of suddenly being confronted with a situation in which your life
is in jeopardy, as an officer in a shooting would be. If you are in that
kind of emotionally driven scenario, focused on the threat and on saving
your life, you will necessarily have a diminished capacity to take in and
remember other details about the scene."

Psychologist Paul Atchley of the University of Kansas, coauthor of the
second study, agrees.

Atchley's team is conducting a series of experiments designed to gauge how
the emotional content of cell phone messages impacts on attention. In an
early phase of this research, reported in New Orleans, subjects heard and
responded to sets of words with positive connotations ("joy," for example)
as well as those with negative associations ("cancer" and "terrorist," for

Both word-sets caused distraction and a decrease in attention, Atchley told
Force Science News, but a decidedly greater impact was caused by the
negative words. He plans next to test the effect of full emotion-laden
conversations. But his findings to date suggest that "threatening
associations" take the most pronounced toll on perception and memory.

"If mere exposure to negative words produce this effect," Atchley says,
"without question law enforcement officers in a life-threatening situation
will find their ability to attend to peripheral information to be
significantly reduced.

"Officers have a tough situation in trying to grasp and retain everything
that is happening" in a shooting situation because "when something doesn't
grab your attention you won't have a memory for it. It simply is not in
your brain at all.

"People think that when you have your eyes open, you see the whole world
around you. But in fact the brain has the capacity to process only a
limited amount of information from the environment." In stress situations,
the "window of attention" may be only about the size of your fist, or less.

Lewinski cites a case he was involved in as an expert witness in which an
officer was struggling on the ground to control the hand of an offender
that was digging into his waistband--going for a gun, in the officer's snap
judgment. A videotape of the incident revealed later that the officer's
partner at that moment seemed to be beating the suspect with a flashlight.

The first officer claimed he was unaware of this, and was fired for
"lying." From interviewing the officer, Lewinski contends that in reality
he experienced inattention-blindness and legitimately could not report on
his partner's actions because he was so intensely riveted on controlling
the perceived threat to his own life that his brain screened out whatever
else was occurring.

"This issue of what officers are able to report on and testify to keeps
surfacing over and over," Lewinski says. "People are astounded by what
officers insist they can't recall.

"Investigators need to do everything they can to properly mine an officer's
memory after a high-intensity encounter. But they also need to realize that
human memory has its shortcomings. It is unconscionable to hold officers
accountable without taking science into consideration.

"Yet the disturbing truth is that cops are being charged, sued and fired
because they can't 'see' things their attention is not focused on. In other
words, because they can't do the impossible."

The studies by Strayer and Atchley, he hopes, will help skeptics see the

[For more information on the cell phone experiments, consult the paper
"Cell Phone-Induced Failures of Visual Attention During Simulated Driving"
by David Strayer, Frank Drews and William Johnston, available at:


Atchley's study has not yet been published.

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