February 21, 2019

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The Ninja Art of Invisibility -

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Throwing Stars -

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Everything is a Weapon- Part One of Three -

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Vanishing into Mist -

Friday, May 11, 2018

Escaping a Sealed Choke -

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Ninja Invisibility -

Monday, April 9, 2018

Ninja Media

Hock Hochheim Interview!

Hock knife takeaway

 

Dr. Michel Farivar, author of the book Ninja Tools and Weapons interviewed Hock Hochheim and we wanted to share the interview with our readers prior to the magazines publication.  Mr. Hochheim is one of the  most highly acclaimed close combat instructors in the world.  His unique blend of military, police and rich martial arts training make him uniquely qualified in his field.  His near total immersion in the close combat martial arts are legendary as exemplified by the resounding successes of his international training seminars.  Additionally he makes available his teachings in what we here consider the best tactical training videos on the topic at Close Quarter Combat Shopping.

We think the question and answer approach between Dr. Farivar and Mr. Hochheim reveals why the world renowned Close Quarter Combat Instructor is in such demand.

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1.  From reading your biography on-line I see that you have trained in a number of martial arts, among them Arnis, Kajukenbo, Aikijujutsu, Kenpo and various others figure prominently, and you teach a great deal of material. Did you seek out these specific martial arts for a reason, or like a lot of people do, access what is local and or get lucky and run into a teacher who really seems to have solid insights into combat?

When I started back in the 1970s it seemed that everything was called Karate or Judo. And there were no real handy options back then like we see a school in every other strip center. And no seminars available. As with so many people, accessibility is important and I did what I could, wherever I could for the scarce times. In the mid-1980s though, I decided this was too limited and I really needed to travel. I pursued some pretty proven sources and that was helpful. But I never really found one system or person who had the big picture. Looking back some of my best sources were veteran soldiers and vet cops I met in the military and in police work. But having the big picture, the hand, stick, knife, gun picture in moving, standing, kneeling, sitting and on-the-ground world, all in the rural, suburban and urban environments of crime and war – whew – you know that is a lot of stuff. And no matter where I went and what system I did? I was always somewhat disappointed. I was always looking for the next best thing and doing that.  

2.  What appealed to you about the martial arts that you spent more time training in and going to the point of attaining teaching ranks?

I think that just happened naturally. I spent time in these systems. There were goals for each level. I strived for those goals, naturally I guess because I think progressive training steps are a good way to learn. Goal-oriented. Time marched on and the next thing you know, you have attained some ranks. In some cases there were social reasons too. My friends were involved along the way. We got each other motivated, worked out together. We had fun, planned training trips. If I went to say, the Philippines for a month, it was essentially for Arnis training progressions because that is what they taught. Step-by-step. You just accomplished them. Anyway, you wake up one morning and you have attained all these things. From 1973 to about 1986 I really was a social practitioner, doing “kuraty” and Jujitsu for the exercise and what I could glean and use. Then, in 1986 something snapped. I saw other systems and I became obsessed. Ever since there is not a day, or probably a waking hour I am not thinking about some aspect of fighting. Of course, I retired from police work to run my seminar business. So, for 18 years now, I teach just about 40 weekends a year in 12 countries. So it is my full time job! My livelihood. I now have to think about it all the time. It is a bit unhealthy, I know. I shouldn’t.

3.  Without specifically naming anyone or their style, were there times when you felt that the person teaching a system, or the system itself claimed to deal with combat situations, but really didn’t?

That’s a pretty loaded question. It touches on the great debates of our times. The great debates like those of combat sports versus the so-called reality training. But, I am usually somewhat disappointed in all of them! Because of this big picture I mentioned. The Army spoiled me. Much of my Vietnam era training was about “how the enemy was going to try to kill me.” When packaged in this serious manner, things take on a certain importance. In policing, the training concept was the same. It set certain filters and priorities for me. But yes, I have spent time spinning my wheels in systems that are myopic, self-serving, hero-worshipping and neurotic. I probably stayed in them too long, too.

 

hock gun pose

 

4.  What was it in your experience and background that led you to work out your own system? Why not just continue teaching systems you held rankings in?

In a few words, none of them covered that big picture I mentioned before. Searched, searched, searched. I had no choice for my own sanity but to create my own doctrine. All these other systems were just parts of the bigger picture. Expensive, tithing, incomplete mis-directions, at least for what I wanted and I know people really needed. I also understand people need exercise and hobbies and social groups and sports and do what they do, to study what they want to study, for a whole host of reasons. As far as ranking goes, we have a rule, or a motto – “fighting first, systems second.” Which means – we do have a system, yes, if you want to go through it you can, but you certainly do not have to. First and foremost , we get together and work out and problem-solve crime and war and develop skills. Just that is perfectly fine with me. You come. You leave. And if you want to get rank, or become an instructor? Well, we can do that too, but it’s not at all mandatory and not at all a priority. Rank is an option. I am fairly detached from all these older systems. I have forgotten the katas and would not teach them anyway. Oh, the dogma and the politics. I stay friends with many of them, but they know I am not obligated to follow any dictums. On any given week I could be teaching at a police academy in South Africa, a Thai school in Perth Australia, or a Jujitsu school in Mississippi. I come and go. I never comment on what is done or not done in that school I just visit. I just do my outlines and then move on down the road.

5.  As you have said in your teaching, knives are just plain dangerous, I know from working with them that the margin for error is extremely narrow and the risk of injury very high. Are there any strategies commonly seen in martial arts curricula that are definitely a bad idea, that place martial arts students at risk if they try them?

Yes, the knife is very forgiving, like a gun, as in – you can totally screw up and still be quite successful with a knife or gun. I think a big problem in training is when the instructor claims that this or that is the ONLY real knife attack, and these other attacks people (you and me) train with are “not real.” “REAL” knife attacks? They know the real deal! We don’t. Look, I was a criminal investigator for decades, in the Army and in regular police work. Let me tell you, I have worked many murders, attempted murders and aggravated assaults, robberies and rapes. Hundreds and hundreds. I also have been assaulted by a few knife attackers, one with a straight razor (and even one with an axe). I am a graduate of numerous, annual “Assault and Violent Death Schools” – which were put on by medical examiners from major cities, each year presenting slide shows of all their death investigations for the prior year, from places like Los Angeles, or Philadelphia etc. (these schools are where I learned the most about the edged weapon attacks – hundreds of investigated cases a year from major cities. Details. Autopsies. Investigations). I want tell you this background real quickly only because I’d like for folks to pay attention to me about this! I get real frustrated when I hear, in particular these RBSD experts trot themselves out to tell you what is and what is not real about knife attacks (and other attacks too). There is no such thing as like, one or two REAL knife attacks. They come in all shapes and sizes, quiet, calm, angry or crazed. One ridicules say, the knife duel, yet there are plenty on YouTube! If they don’t happen? Where did the film come? They do happen. They can happen inside a knife fight. A part of it. Knife attacks come from all different directions, high, low, front, back, sides, with different motives or no real motive at all, that makes any sense to normal people. They use no skill or different levels of preparation and skill. They attack with one simple slash or stab then leave, or sometimes remain with tens or even over a hundred. There are entire profiles and psychologies, motives and methods at play with knife attackers. People often think they know and they concoct what their version of a REAL knife attack is, but they don’t know. There is no such thing as one or two REAL knife attacks. Prepare mentally and physically instead for a much bigger problem than one or two “real” knife attacks.

6.  Is there anything in the psychology of martial arts practice that has importance in dealing with real life combat scenarios? Can you speak to things like reading the enemy and how you respond to the enemy?

Reading the enemy is defining the enemy and trying to identify their methods and tricks, big and small. This takes intelligence information. “Martial arts” is such a big, big term and I would have to take that question apart art by art by art. All martial arts offer abstract benefits to survival fighting. The question is, to what degree? Where on the continuum? Boxing is always helpful. Grappling is always helpful. I use the foundation of “Who, What, Where, When How and Why” as a core. Reading the enemy…who are you, and who actually is the enemy? In real life we fight criminals and enemy soldiers. Sometimes we escape, sometimes we “arrest” them, sometimes we kill them. Who you are, and then the “what, where, when, how and why” further defines the opponent. Mugger, serial killer, drunk, bully. ISIS? All of the Ws contain ways on how to read the situation and read the enemy in their own circumstances.

7.  Any perspectives to share on how the media, movies, TV the news and the internet have benefitted or harmed civilians when it comes to combat defense/preparedness? How about sport martial arts, as they are in the media, have they also influenced in a positive of negative way a civilians approach to combat/defense preparedness?

I am here today because in the early 70s I saw Caine fight on Kung Fu! But that is not entirely true as I have seen fighting in movies and on TV since childhood and somehow deep down, knew I needed to “know all that stuff.” Rarely do we see anything that resembles the chaos of a real hand, stick, knife or gun fight on film. Maybe Youtube has brought us this? The combat sports are important. I use them, and drills from them to support every bit of everything I show. I am a firm believer in skill developing drills to build depth anywhere possible. I exist in an odd world, where many martial arts think I am one of those silly, “reality based self defense” eye-poker guys, and many RBSD people think I am a lost, unreal martial art pansy guy because I still study and teach parts of martial we can use. I actually do a lot from both and use things where I can. I am neither of those things. I’m just a problem solver. I think right now the greatest laboratory in the fighting/MA world is the UFC in many ways. Its fast and furious and full force. It is evolved to win. I have two questions when evaluating the value of a tactic/technique. One – have I seen that/can it work in the UFC? And two – should I even consider the UFC in this particular review.

 

Hoccheim as policeman

 

8.  With your background in law enforcement and military experience, should civilians carry guns? Are guns appropriate for street self-defense?   Oh sure. Absolutely.

9.  Along the same lines, large knives are illegal in many places, but does that make sense? I was taught that short knives present advantages that in some cases might make them preferable. Do laws against weapons such as large knives benefit us?

When I teach weapon selection, as in my Knife Level One, we cover these topics. Based on that “who, what, where, when, how and why” foundation, you select the knife for the mission you are on and geographically where you are too. I have seen the craziest knife laws throughout the world. Countries where folders are illegal but fixed blades are not. These laws are usually made by knuckleheads uneducated in the subject, or are responding emotionally to crime. For me to say that laws against large knives benefit us? I would have to see where that was. I hear that New York State now has some liberal politicians wanting to ban machetes. They originate from the deep-city parts of the state without regard to the upstate, rural country-side people who need them around the house, yard or farm.

10.  We don’t see much on chains these days. They are beloved in the ninjutsu community, any thoughts on whether it’s worthwhile to train with them?

I wouldn’t. I guess if you were a biker and they were always handy for practical reasons it would be a handy idea. I would say the same about throwing tomahawks or having a vest with 12 fixed blade knives on it. Or a boomerang? Who are you, what do you think is going to happen, where will you be wearing chains to quickly use them, what do you think you will do with them, when is it appropriate to have them, why have them in lieu of a better, wiser easier choice of weapon. People train with anything for their hobbies and interests. In the stick world, I like 28 inch axe handles and work out with them, as one would do with a Filipino stick. But for parts of the world, having a handy axe handle is rare. (So are Filipino sticks by the way!)   11: In ninjutsu there is a lot of emphasis on escape and concealment. The way I was taught a second important feature was to seize the enemy and immobilize their attack as quickly and effectively as possible. Should people spend time on escape and concealment? Or does it embolden an attacker? Which strategy and practice do you think has more utility in self-defense?   I think that is completely situational. Who, what, where, when, how and why. But winning – everyone’s definition of the word “winning” is different. For a citizen, winning might be escaping a parking lot robbery, while for a cop, winning is arresting the robber. Every military concerns itself with orderly retreats, which is essentially an escape versus insurmountable odds. I don’t think a comprehensive course can ignore the topic of escaping. Concealment/camouflage is certainly important for military events. Back to the “What” of the 4W list – what is your mission? A shopper escaping the supermarket parking lot robbery is probably not prepped for dressed for maximum hiding out.

11.  In terms of teaching methods, I have seen two major approaches emphasized. One is to repeat a limited repertoire of techniques over and over until they become second nature and can be used spontaneously. The other is to change it up all the time and expose the student to novel situations all the time. Do you have an opinion about which one is better for combat preparedness today?   There are so many issues in the art and science of teaching. But in terms of repetition training, there are really two kinds of “rep training” that relate to fighting. How many reps does it take for you to absorb something and then next how many reps of watching the opponent move does it take for you get a handle on what the enemy is about to do. These concerns are documented in new books like “The Sports Gene” and “Bounce.” This old story of “10,000 hours to mastery” has been set aside by modern experts. This idea of tagging a number like 3,000 to even 8,000 reps that we so flippantly hear is not accurate. Everyone is different. Everyone’s absorption number is different. As far as the second-half, the “reading” of the opponent, it does seem to take longer because of situational experience. Take for example the situation of an outfielder in baseball. A pro fielder has watched the pitch and the swing – oh – how many times? Thousands since childhood? He has watched a set of three events really. One is the unique delivery of the pitcher’s arm and ball, the second is the foot shuffling and shoulder position of the batter and third, the placement of the catcher’s mitt. All in his mind’s eye. His experienced mind’s eye. These three things, once in play, are read by the outfielder and becomes an experienced/intuitive guess on where the ball will go. Sure enough at the crack of the bat, he and perhaps that half of the field are moving in the proper direction. Getting the jump on the ball we call it, but that is how it’s done. This is true in all sports and fighting. You can’t teach this “jump” on a chalkboard or learn this in a book. Only time, repetition and experience create this. Novel situations? For me and my programs, the combat scenario is king. The end product. Using the Who, What, Where, How and Why model, we try to create hand, stick, knife and gun attacks, and solve them. They original attack is organized, but the response is rather freestyle. Safety of the stuntman/attacker is always an issue.   13: Has the arrival of ninjutsu advanced the public discourse on martial arts to something more mature? Has it in any way sharpened the contrast between the missions of various martial arts schools?   I am probably not a good judge of that one. To me, the pop-arrival of ninjutsu was about, oh what? Late 70s? 80s? I was around then, reading the bug magazines of the day. Today, people are totally consumed by MMA and Krav. For them, everything else is inferior. You might add BJJ to that list, but MMA which embraces the “ground-n-pound” methods and have really put a drumming the wrestling-only theory of BJJ. Just watch the UFC and see the effects of ground strikes and kicks. But, all other martial arts have been shoved off to the side.

Last one. Since you trained in different styles, do you recommend students try out different martials arts then stick with one? Or might it be better to get broad exposure?

I must resort back to the Who, What, Where, When, How and Why. Who is the student? Who do they REALLY think they will be fighting? What will that fight be like? Where will it happen? A sports ring? A bank? When will the fight happen? How will it happen? Why will it happen? Why is the student doing this or that particular art? The real reasons. Fun? Exercise? Hobby/ Survival? What does a student want to and/or need to learn. Apply those questions to the art they are in. If those questions aren’t adequately answered? Then a broader exposure is needed. I mean, if you want to be a sports boxer, then you only obsess about boxing, and you are happy. If you are cop, then boxing is not maximizing your full potential. If you are soldier in Iraq, wrestling doesn’t maximize your fighting potential.     Hock’s web page is www.ForceNecessary.com

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