Wednesday, August 15, 2012


David S has been pushing me to say something nice about the "Facing Violence" video.  He directed it, and I think he does a lot of YMAA's video marketing, too.

But I'm feeling nostalgic and kind of want to do a life recap.  Like everything on the blog, this is for me.  It might read like a CCA (Crass Commercial Announcement) so feel free to skip it.

My first published works were articles to Black Belt Magazine (on jujutsu striking, I was starting to get tired of JJ being characterized as a pure grappling art with the advent of GJJ) and American Survival Guide (an article on some nifty rappelling and climbing tricks with limited equipment).  That was about 1997 and almost as soon as I sent them in I got promoted to sergeant.  Which turns your life around.  I dabbled, but didn't think about publishing again for ten years.

Meditations on Violence
Coming off of an ugly year, I started writing.  About the same time, Kris Wilder invited me to teach at a seminar.  I hadn't been in a room with pure, shiny martial artists for a long time... and it seemed that none of them had a clue to what I was talking about. Fights are different than assaults?  Adrenaline?  Environment?  Aftermath?  You mean some of this stuff is illegal?  And some won't work?
So I started writing things down, partially to explain, partially to get some stuff out of my head.  'Meditations' is a core dump.  Sort of a psychic vomit.  And originally intended as something for my senior students when I got older.

I sent it to Kris, of course, since he was a friend and a big reason the book was written. He sent it to the publisher.

Facing Violence
MoV was a core dump, Facing Violence is a plan.  MoV addressed what too many martial artists didn't know.  FV was my list of what they need to know.  It grew out of a class at the very last Martial University (that seminar that Kris used to host) before I went to Iraq.  Thought about it for a couple of years and wrote the first draft in less than a month.  It organized information, particularly the categories of violence, in a way that I'm really proud of.

Force Decision
I wrote this entirely in Baghdad and Sulaymaniyah.  And I'd decided not to publish it.  There are huge battles in perception going on right now.  One of the ones I've been closest to is how some people hate and fear the police...and how many police expect that they will simply be punished for doing their job no matter how well they do it.  That there is no level of gentleness, even all the way up to letting criminals run free plus constant ass-kissing that won't leave some of our citizens calling us thugs and Nazis.  It was frustrating.  K is the product of a 'worker's paradise' and damn well knows what 'police state' really means.  I was in Baghdad, trying to teach leadership to a generation that had learned that any glimmer of initiative was answered with summary execution.  I wanted to write something so that the people who cared could have the facts.  But I know perfectly well that the people deepest in the controversy don't give a damn about the facts.  They want to be vindicated and the other side to be evil.  Reason is not welcome here.

And I really, really didn't want to step into the middle of that.  Not because of fear (since, realistically, the scariest thing in my world right now are live TV interviews) but because there is no gain in trying.
But Tiff read the book and disagreed.  And so have a few other people.  I'm not hopeful, not yet.  Maybe.

Campfire Tales from Hell
A certain person was getting in trouble with some extreme medical bills, and a group of us decided to do something more permanent than donations.  I volunteered to edit and some very cool people shared stories.  And it was a blast.  And, for all the horror stories I had heard about editing ("What's the difference between herding cats and editing an anthology?  Cats aren't neurotic and insecure.") it was painless and fun.  And the book is awesome.  Smashwords link.

The E-Books
Amazon Author Page

The Blog Compilations
Currently five of them, they cover all the blog posts from 2005-2009.  I didn't feel I had the right to the comments, so comments are excluded, but I also wanted to add value, so there is a little extra information in all of them.

I wanted to experiment with the e-book platform and I wanted a writing challenge.  Every year, K does Nanowrimo, the National Novel Writer's Month.  Essentially a challenge to complete a full book in 30 days.  Sounded cool.  I asked for suggestions on the Blog and Maija suggested a book of drills.  Done.  And fun.  YMAA plans on doing an illustrated print version in 2013, with some new chapters.

Talking the Through
With a little pressure from Tim Boelhert, I finally got this one done.  It's essentially a write-up of the course I designed and taught for the Mental Health Team at my old agency.  Good reviews.  The people in the trenches seem to like it.

Working With a Translator
Actually an article I'd been toying with for awhile.  Wanted to see how it went.  Lessons from the best of the best, and some of the worst interpreters.

And now, for David, the video:

Facing Violence
I don't watch videos.  For whatever reason, with books non-fiction engages me and fiction annoys but with video, it's the opposite.  I like shoot-em-ups and westerns and noir and some comedy and... but the best directed, cast, narrated non-fiction bores the absolute crap out of me.  And, personally, I think that any sort of combatives is much easier to learn by touch than by sight.

So, hmmmmm.  I think it's good.  I'm not an actor.  Alain was being kind when he said I'm not a polished speaker.  I said some bad words. Never really got the knack of looking at the camera like it was a person.  But the information is solid and there are some things that were easier to show than to explain in a book.  Everything else aside, if you are interested in self-defense the example of "Articulation Wars" is incredibly important.  The story you tell will compete with the threat's and it is another form of battle you must practice.

Upcoming Stuff

Book- Scaling Force, a collaboration with Lawrence Kane should be coming out in a month or so.  It includes the best stuff I've written on presence and verbal skills.  And interacting with Lawrence got me to put somethings in words that were important.  You know, the stuff that everyone knows but you don't realize it until it's phrased just right?

Book- Drills, an expansion of the e-book early next year.

Book- Working slowly on the Conflict Communications Manual revision.

E-Book- It will be under a pseudonym (since I'm not thrilled about broadcasting the actual names of my children) but I've been collecting some of the horrible stories I used to tell my kids.  At one point, they believed we got them from the Kid Pound.  And the time I convinced them my mother-in-law was a cannibal.  Stuff like that.

Videos- Two for next year release are in the can.  Or in post.  Or whatever magic David does after we've packed up our toys and gone home.

Logic of Violence: It's been killing me to figure out how to write this as a book. David suggested we just film a class.  It's a lot of talking, and I'm afraid it might be boring, but the information and the process are both cool.  Get a room full of smart people and have them solve the problems a crook solves.  On their own, they create and understand a raft of common street-crime tactics.  It's cool.

Joint Locks: No idea what this will actually be titled.  It will be about an hour and will cover everything you need to know about locks.  For instructors, I want you to look at the method for breaking down the information.  For everyone else, pay attention and do the drill.  IMO locks, like a lot of things in MA are simply taught wrong.  They aren't complicated, they aren't hard.  But most martial arts who specialize in locks can train for years and still not be able to apply them.  I was able to get officer to improvise locks under stress consistently with 90 minutes or less of training.  It's not hard.


Wayne said...

I for one am glad you share your thoughts and ideas. MoV was the first thing I read by you and have enjoyed everything else do date. Mainly because I learn something, it makes me thinks, or both.

Look forward to more works from you.

Dave Akell said...

Everything you need to know about joint locks in an hour?? That really would be something. Not sure if that is even possible, but I've always wanted to try something like that, looking forward to your take on the subject.

Anonymous said...

I, too, am very glad for the time you've taken to share what you've learned with the rest of us.

MoV was recommended to me by a friend in the martial arts community a while back. I learned some good information from it, but more importantly: it confirmed enough of my own experiences with violence that I stopped second guessing myself. Being the less-experienced martial artist in the room, the nerdy soccer mom among far more formidable men, I had written off what I had seen and done and felt as not expert enough to be trusted. MoV made me stop doing that, and take a hard look at what I was doing right and wrong in my training.

Ernie said...

Looking at getting Facing Violence on DVD soon, but I sure wish there were a digital download option through Amazon or something. Any chance of that happening in the near future?

David Kafri said...

I've been reading you since (the late) Ciberkwoon and enjoying every word. Very, very glad to have read your stuff. The writers workshop was great, and I'm now reading Facing Violence and have the Campfires to get to.

Even gladder (is that a word?) to have met you and attended one of your seminars. Even though "it was all in the blog" and there was "nothing new", it was ALL new and it was all an eye opener. I realy hope you can come round here again next year.

Steven M. Johnson said...

I got Facing Violence the book and the DVD for my birthday.

Absolutely fantastic material. It confirmed some things I already thought, and it allowed me to look at other things in a completely different way.

Do you ever train people out in Southern California?

malcolm said...

I would be interested in a Joint Locks book.

Tiff said...

And I still (respectfully) disagree. Sorry the publisher mangled your perspective a bit. I'm still grateful you were brave enough to put it out there into the cosmos, and I still think it's a critical step in the right direction. God help me, but I've decided to dig deeper into the subject and churn my MS thesis into a book. Expect me to pester you more about the subject at a later date. :)

Unknown said...

Looking forward to all the new material, especially the DVDs!