Thursday, February 09, 2006


Nothing works 100% of the time. That's one of the things that is so true to the initiates as to be not worth mentioning...and so incomprehensible to the theorists as to be invisible.

"A .45 acp with FMJ...." A neighboring jurisdiction had a guy take five and still try to crawl after the officer. A local here was shot between the eyes from less than five feet and it bounced off his skull and lodged in the ceiling.

"It's shot placement- if you know how to hit what you're aiming at..." We use a training tape called "Ultimate Survivors" which describes a bad day in Baton Rouge. By the end of it one officer, Linda Lawrence, was dead and her partner had almost been beaten to death. The assailant had ten bullets in his chest and head from duty revolvers- .38 special or .357. After a contact shot to the solar plexus, the threat grunted, "That was a good one," and threw the officer across the room. He'd also taken an armpit to armpit perforation. The officer placed his revolver against the threat's forehead and testified that he saw the carpet through the hole he blew in the back of the threat's skull... and the threat got up and tried to attack again.

"A good shot to the knee will take anyone out." I had my ACL snapped in a judo class, and still did two more randoris. I didn't like it and I didn't do well, but I was far from done.

There are thousands of these incidents from the twilight zone of combat. Stuff that shouldn't work does. Stuff that can't work, might. Stuff that is perfectly reliable isn't.

The action/reaction gap? Beaten it, and so has nearly everyone else who has survived a close-range ambush with a knife.

Gravity always works.... except for that one time, and that was in my favor so that's cool. And Newton's First Law of Motion has only failed me once- it's creepy for a guy you're throwing to change direction in mid air. And there we get to the edge of acceptance for the initiates.


Matt Withers said...

Just finished reading MEDITATIONS ON VIOLENCE and am now back tracking through your old blog posts. Great stuff, though that's coming from the filter of one of the uninitiated. My experiences with violence are like your experiences with knife fights. They don't necessarily mesh with what violence is supposed to look like. Anyway, I've no doubt that so called impossible things do happen, but I also wonder if some the experience of impossible things happening is a result of the perceptive difference in the midst of a high stress event. In the book you talk about a training where you got to see officers have a far different view of what happened vs. what you as observer saw. I guess I'm left wondering (theorizing?) about how much of the miracle is a trick in perception.

Rory said...

It's a good question, Matt and it may be not be possible to be sure. Like tachypsychia-- how could you tell the difference between seeing things in slow motion and remembering in slow motion?