Wednesday, November 22, 2006


An officer approached me today. He'd taken a DT class from me last week and wanted me to know how disturbed and uncomfortable he was with the material. At the end of class we'd gone over (slowly, deliberately, safely, yet thoroughly) how to break a neck. It's a lethal technique for a situation where lethal force is required. It made him uncomfortable- that we would teach it, that it would work and most of all the feel of putting it on me and slowly applying power to the point of no return.

(There is a technique that I have used extensively in judo and seen in wrestling and MMA that is relatively quick, simple and reliable. It leads to a choke hold. However, it bypasses two neck breaks that are easier, faster and simpler to get to than that 'winning' choke. The first of the bypassed neck breaks is what we taught.)

In his day-to-day job, this man is surrounded by criminals. He works where they have access to tools and weapons. He says that he has no problem doing "anything it takes to survive" but he makes a pistol with his fingers as he says it. Part of doing "anything it takes" involves training. Part of doing "anything it takes" involves getting used to discomfort.

Shooting, I think, is easier to fantasize about because it is more visual than tactile. The feelings of shooting are a hard object in your hand, a little resistance at your finger and a sharp jerk of recoil. There's not a lot of sweat and fear smell and slipperiness and stretching or popping. The sounds of shooting are loud but sharp (but at twenty five yards with a .45 I have heard the separate slap of the bullet hitting the target and that would be a terrible sound in flesh.) The sounds of fighting and hurting at close range are quieter but more enotional- the melon thump of head on concrete, the bell tone of head into a steel counter, the rip/crunch of a body slammed into drywall, the gasping and sometimes screaming or gurgling, the tears, snaps and rips of tissues parting. And let's not get into smells, I like the smell of shooting.

I know that this officer isn't one of our "meat eaters". He's not the guy to call if you have a riot brewing or a PCP freak going bad- but I'm disturbed. Disturbed that he can believe that doing something will be easy, but that training to do it is hard and uncomfortable. That he believes he will have an easier time doing something in a fraction of a second when he is terrified that he can barely force himself to do with coaching and in safety.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there is a certain percentage of people who can be squeamish, hesitant and inattentive in training and turn into technically superb tigers in combat. But I doubt it.

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