Sunday, April 24, 2011

The ethical warrior: Developing a cop's combat mindset by Jack Hoban & Bruce Gourlie

Here is another great article by my colleague, friend and RGI President, Jack Hoban. In this article Jack and Bruce clairify and add depth to the concept of the Combat Mindset. They go into depth regarding the three dislipines that make up this path. The discussion includes how and why these dynamics are so important no matter if you are a soldier, police officer or a civilian PeaceWalker (something I will elaborate on later).

I hope you enjoy the article and find it beneficial along your journey. If you would like to find out more about this perspective please join us at our Resolution Group International Conflict Resolution Workshop coming up in May. Click here for details.

In the meantime enjoy the article and as Jack says, "Keep Going!"


The ethical warrior: Developing a cop's combat mindset
by Jack Hoban & Bruce Gourlie

One popular phrase says: “Be polite and professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.” It may sound sensible to some and cool to others, but both perspectives may fail to examine what that really means. What is the mindset of the person who adopts this philosophy? Is it that of a protector, or that of a killer?
A combat mindset — the ability to act effectively and ethically under adversity — is key to the Ethical Warrior. Being effective under stress requires the ability to overcome emotional and autonomic impulses that might keep us from performing well in combat — or get us killed. Our perspective is that clarified ethics makes you more effective — and safer — in a combat situation. After all, what are ethics but life-protecting values in action?

Philosophy Drives Actions

Many things happen in the mind of a law enforcement officer when an encounter with a suspect turns violent. Training, judgment and self control compete with confusion, anger and fear. Be careful of what you prime your mind with. The officer needs to instantly take the necessary actions to protect himself or herself and others — that’s the job. The actions need to be effective, legal and appropriate for the level of danger involved and, for many reasons including the officer’s own mental health, they have to be ethical. In today’s world, it is also likely the encounter will be captured on video. How can we develop a mindset that will produce a result that accomplishes the mission and guards against legal and ethical problems?
Preparation for the critical moment requires a synergistic program of ethical, physical and mental training. In previous articles we have discussed the relationship between ethics and tactics. We explored how using physical skills to activate the universal moral value of protecting life produced ethical actions. We now turn to the third critical element: developing the mindset that produces fast and effective ethical action under the pressure of physical danger.

The Three Disciplines

To get a fresh perspective, we use the U.S. Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) as a frame of reference. Marines involved in counterinsurgency operations are often placed in a role similar to a peace officer. They protect and serve the communities in their areas of operation, interact with an often suspicious public, and do their best to build popular support for their work. When violence occurs, they are held accountable for using the appropriate amount of force along a defined continuum.

The Marines have found that the three disciplines of MCMAP — physical, mental and ethical — help them act decisively in the right way at the right time. It helps them act in a way that keeps faith with the people they are protecting, while helping them live with the consequences of their actions all while remaining the most effective fighting force in the world.

The phrase “mind-body-spirit” is often associated with the martial arts. Many people assume that this is a philosophical concept requiring years of study and mystical initiation. Actually, the connection between mind, body and spirit outlines a very accessible and practical system. Mind: the ability to organize and control ones thoughts; body: technical and tactical ability; and spirit: the moral clarity that guides ones actions, are the building blocks of the combat mindset.

Combat mindset is an attitude of awareness, confidence, and purpose — awareness of the situation, confidence in our physical skills, and clarity of our legal and ethical purpose. Whether it happens consciously or not, all physical actions begin in the mind. Even so-called “muscle memory” is just a faster version of the mind-body connection. The problem is that even on a good day, the mind is managing many things at once. The added stress of physical danger can turn multi-tasking into system overload. A well-developed combat mindset enables the quick effective thinking that triggers quick effective action. Again, what philosophical perspective are you priming your mind with?

Confidence in our physical skills can only come through effective training. Just as MCMAP is designed for military combat, there are many combative systems geared toward law enforcement. A system useful for developing the combat mindset should have some specific characteristics. The system should be based on sound tactical principles as much as fighting techniques. It should employ techniques that are simple to learn, easy to practice, and adaptable to many conflict situations. Finally, it should focus on keeping the officer’s weapon safe and available if needed. The goal is to develop a set of quickly deployable physical tools that can be used in a variety of dangerous situations.

The Ethical Warrior
We seek to attain the spirit of the ethical warrior to clarify our purpose. The warrior protects one’s self and others. The others can be a partner, a bystander or even the violent suspect. When a situation turns violent, this commitment to protect life forms the foundation of our purpose. This clarity provides reassurance that our use of physical force is for the right purpose, allowing us to act decisively with the confidence that we won’t regret our actions.

The goal of developing a combat mindset is to do the right thing, in the right way, for the right reason under extreme stress. Physical training and ethical clarity support a mindset that identifies and deals with danger in an effective and dispassionate way. Every officer knows that a quiet shift can instantly turn into the ultimate test. Developing a professional combat mindset can be an important tool for excelling at that test.
Let’s consider rewriting the popular phrase above to say: “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to protect myself and all others, at all times, if at all possible.”

About the author
Jack E. Hoban is president of Resolution Group International and a subject matter expert for the U.S. Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. Bruce J. Gourlie is a Special Agent of the FBI and a former U.S. Army infantry officer.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Woosha! by James Morganelli

Craig Gray - Dr. George Thompson - Gary Klugiewicz - James Morganelli
I recently received my Instructors Certification in Dr. George Thompson's Tactical Communication course he calls Verbal Judo  It is an impressive course on how to de-escalate and negotiate with a person to gain voluntary compliance, cooperation and collaboration. It was created and  run by Dr. Thompson and his right hand man Gary Klugiewicz.

As I was putting my thoughts down in a manner that would be enjoyable and beneficial to read, I saw that RGI Associate and friend James Moganelli wrote a nice piece on the experience, so being one to leverage talent, I asked James if I could re-post his article.

As for James, he is a very talented martial artist, instructor and writer. I met him a couple of years ago through Jack Hoban and I am glad that we are getting a chance to know each other better. I would recommend that you check out James's blog site
Here is James article:

The video is grainy, but bright. It is December 19, 2003, and we can see part of a table and chair against a wall inside a police interrogation room. A scruffy man is led in by a detective and seated in the chair. He looks forlorn. Dr. Thompson speaks up, "This guy is a cop killer," he points to the screen. All of us inside the darkened classroom turned theater silently acknowledge. The video plays on, the detective returns, handing the man a bottle of water, "Here you go, amigo." Thompson speaks again, "That just saved that detective's life."

The scruffy man opens the bottle methodically, takes a drink, the detective leaves. A moment passes. The scruffy man is thinking. He reaches under his shirt, produces a handgun, and blows his brains out. Blood erupts from his temple, pouring out like a dropped bottle of wine. His eyes swell shut, his nose drips blood, his body deflates. "Holy fuck," detectives return, "Nobody shook him (searched him)." The scruffy man's head lolls. "Holy fuck ..." Blood taps dances on concrete. The video fades to black.

How many fights have any of us ever been in? And how often? I can count on one hand the number of times I have used physical force - just ask me about the Ritz-Carlton bar fight. I cannot, however, count how many fights I have not been in - countless. Why? Simple - I usually talked my way out of it.

This past week I became a certified 'Tactical Communications' instructor after I was invited to complete a 40-hour course in "Verbal Judo." It was outstanding! If you are unfamiliar with VJ, look it up - it's founder, Dr. George Thompson, started teaching VJ some 30 years ago after getting his PhD in English Lit, and then switched gears to serve some 20 years in Law Enforcement, where he figured out and refined VJ techniques.

The video above was one of many, illustrating the idea that our words can either be a stitch in a bulletproof vest or a nail in our coffin. The scruffy man was a cop killer, just arrested, and many might have treated him with disdain, venting their anger and emotions; had the detective done that, no one might have thought twice about it. But, because the detective followed Thompson's 'First Universal Truth' - "Everyone wants to be treated with dignity and respect," he didn't arm the scruffy man with a reason to kill him.

Thompson, a long-time martial artist, describes VJ as a 'martial art of the mind.' And he's right - VJ's principles are psychologically based on observation of the human condition and designed to teach one how to take advantage of another's verbal aggression, tip them off balance, and gain control. He speaks about letting go of one's ego, maintaining our temper, focusing only on another's behavior, letting their angry words slide off us like water on a duck's back. Thompson cleverly reconciles his years of police work with Aristotelian models of rhetorical persuasion and lays it all out in clear form. He even jokingly turns a personal kiai into a summary acronym - WOOSHA! (Win Only On Secret Hidden Agendas).

Throughout the week, the class is punctuated by examples of people saving lives using the trained mind and 'tactical courtesy' as a baseline for conduct. There's the story of an officer, kidnapped at gunpoint, convincing his aggressors to give themselves up saving all their lives including his own, or the legendary gang detective, whose past professional conduct, even with despicable thugs, saves his life one night: A bogus 911 call is actually a gang initiation designed to assassinate a cop, but when this detective answers the call, the thugs lower their rifle, explaining to him some months later, their respect for him (because of the respect he had shown them) saved his life.

Thompson himself is called in to negotiate with an unstable father holding a knife to the throat of his three year old. Throughout their conversation, Thompson searches the father's words for the key to use against him. When the father says he does not want to kill his son, but has to because he is possessed by the devil, Thompson convinces the man to allow a priest to perform an exorcism. It works - the father releases the boy, is taken into custody, and lives are saved - the boy from his father, the father from police snipers.

Like 'Taisabaki' maneuvers the body, TacComm is 'Kotoba o sabaku,' maneuvering with our words. As 98% of all conflict is verbal, we should remember Taijutsu is not simply a physical art.