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The Ol’ One-Two

“I don’t need that karate crap! I’ve got Glock Fu!”

We’ve all heard the bluster-filled bullshit of the fat slob at the range, as he locks into his piss-poor imitation of a svelte, circa 1979 Jeff Cooper shooting stance, with his custom 1911A1, and proceeds to practice his “defensive shooting” with slow, aimed fire at 21 feet. 50 rounds later, he has displayed an exemplary lack of understanding of what the Colonel was actually teaching, as well as what the fuck actual interpersonal violence looks like…but hey, at least he has a decent group (hopefully), since “speed is fine, but accuracy is final!”

You would think, with the prevalence of high-quality, relatively inexpensive training available in this country, from instructors, trainers, and teachers who have “been there, done that,” that we’d be past the nonsense by now. Outside of the cognitive bias of Dunning-Kruger, there is no reason that anyone with the foresight to carry a defensive firearm in America today, cannot get solid, legitimate training in the application of that weapon in the anti-personnel role. Whether you’re a cop, a prepper, or just a concerned citizen, THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR NOT TRAINING EFFECTIVELY.

No sane person wants to rely on physical, unarmed combatives for self-protection. That’s why we own—and carry—firearms. Fist fighting is to the everyday carry (EDC) pistol, what the EDC pistol is to the carbine in your truck, and what the carbine in your truck is to close-air support from an A-10: less than desirable, but a tool that will keep you alive, and in the fight, until you can create the spatial and temporal gaps needed to get to the better weapon.

Any long-time reader will know, I am an advocate of grappling-centric combatives systems like judo, wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), the Modern Army Combatives Program (MACP) and the Special Operations Combatives Program (SOCP). Despite the whining pleas of those who lack the drive, discipline, or even just the opportunity, to train in those very physical systems, they offer one significant advantage over striking-centric systems—they are inherently, utterly empirical. You can either choke a motherfucker out, or you cannot. There is no in-between. There is no subjective gray area.

At the same time however, there’s a great deal to be said for the value of knowing how to throw bombs with your striking. From left jabs that crack jaws and knock out teeth, to straight rights that crush orbital lobes and leave gray shit leaking out of ears, being able to legitimately punch hard—with “heavy hands” as one of my old coaches used to say—will go a long way towards solving problems before you ever even need to go to guns.

If we accept the truth of the idea that “bad guys look for easy marks,” then being able to initiate a conversation by making it so that he needs to eat through a straw for the next six to eight weeks solves a lot of potential issues, doesn’t it? A solid foundation in basic boxing skills will go a long way towards achieving that.

Competitive boxers, of course, spend years in training before they become successful, and even at the most basic level, competent coaches will have their protégées, spend a few months shadowboxing, working the heavy bag, and on the focus mitts, before they ever step into the sparring ring. For us mortals, lacking the intrinsic physical attributes of swarthy youth in their teens and twenties, plus family obligations, work commitments, and even competing training requirements, five or six hours a week—or more—in a boxing gym just isn’t a realistic option.

Fortunately, we’re probably not going to facing competitive boxers, so our training requirements are somewhat less intense. We do still need to spend some time working on those basic skills, because there are bad guys out there that work them, even if not at the level of a Cesar Chavez or Mike Tyson.

Boxing In the Real World

The fact is, whether you manage to knock a fucker out with your “ol’ one-two,” or not, in situations that do require the use of a weapon, the application of basic boxing blows, delivered with speed, precision, and power, can create the spatial and temporal opportunities yo need to get your weapon into the fight. When an incident “begins” at conversational distance, your 1.5-2.0 second draw from concealment is not going to be fast enough, unless you have some plan in place to preclude the enemy from impeding your efforts. It’s been my experience—as well as that of a lot of far more capable people—that punching a motherfucker in the mouth can go a long way towards achieving that.

Combined with the use of well-developed, basic footwork and movement techniques, solid punching skills will provide you the space and time to win the drag race to the gun. NOTHING SAYS “INTERRUPT YOUR OODA LOOP” QUITE LIKE CHOKING ON YOUR OWN TEETH!

Training Tactics and Strategies

Outside of hours each week spent in a dedicated boxing club, getting your ass beat by those swarthy youngsters, what tools and methods are available to us, that we can use to develop some rudimentary striking skills form the sweet science? The most important is the heavy bag.

I can’t recall where it was, but just the other day, I was reading something about a lot of old time boxers like Jack Dempsey, who forswore the use of training aids like focus mitts, in favor of sticking with the heavy bag. I don’t know the accuracy of that (I don’t even know when focus mitts were developed, although I do notice a lack of mention of them in many old time boxing manuals), but I do know that, despite the fact that I own several pairs of focus mitts, and some muay Thai kicking pads, my heavy bag gets a significantly greater portion of my training time than those do. The heavy bag gets one hell of a lot more training time than all the other accouterments combined. It’s just so much more multi-functional. I can work the speed and precision that I work with focus mitts, on the heavy bag, but I can work power on the heavy bag that just doesn’t work with the mitts. I can even incorporate footwork and very basic defensive countermeasures on the heavy bag.

My heavy bag is a 100-pound model. I don’t think anything heavier is really necessary, and I’m firmly convinced that nothing lighter offers the fundamental advantages for the requisite power development. Admittedly though, this could be a cognitive bias on my part, since I’ve been hitting 100# bags since before I weighed a hundred pounds. I modify my heavy bags by placing wraps of tape around two spots on the bag. The first is on the same level as my jaw, and the second is at the level of my solar plexus. By focusing the aim of my blows on those two target levels, I can work on developing precision in punching, to accompany the power.

To increase punching speed, I set my shot timer (although, the timer function on a cell phone works really well too) for a given span: thirty seconds, one minute, etc. Then, I just stand still, and for the duration, I throw as many FULL-POWER, AIMED punches as I can, before the time runs out. It doesn’t matter if you throw ten, or one hundred punches in that span, as long as they are aimed, and are delivered with all the power you can muster. Beyond that, what matters is that you managed to get more punches in today, than you did yesterday, and that you manage more tomorrow than you can today.

Adding Boxing to Your PT Program

Perhaps the simplest way to incorporate some solid boxing training into your current program is to simply tack it on to the end of your daily PT program—because, you ARE doing PT daily, right? This is actually one of the great advantages of the great advantages of the incorporation of boxing training into your combatives training—you can get a lot of advantage out of the training, even all by yourself.

Besides the obvious cardio, strength, and stamina advantages, you can actually develop legitimate functional skill from solo training. While there is certainly value in solo training the body movement mechanics of ground fighting, those inherently require a training partner to get the most value. With your boxing skills however—while you WILL ultimately need some partners for sparring with—you can’t go and drop bombs every time you spar, or you’ll run out of sparring partners in a hurry. That’s what the heavy bag is for. It doesn’t mind getting the shit beat out of it daily. The best boxing coaches I’ve known would put you on a shadowboxing and bag work regimen for 3-6 months before you ever stepped foot into the sparring ring anyway. As my buddy, boxing coach and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Cecil Burch says, “shadowboxing is dry-fire for boxing.” The same can be said of heavy bag work. It’s the boxing alternative to the square range drills that build the foundational knowledge and skill needed to make force-on-force and field work successful.

Here’s the program I use and recommend:

Add your bag work on to the end of your normal PT session. Whether you’ve just finished a powerlifting training session, or a Crossfit-type conditioning WOD, it will only add 15-20 minutes to your total training time. My powerlifting sessions generally run 45-90 minutes, while my WOD generally run 20-60 minutes. If you just cannot afford the additional 15-20 minutes, you COULD possibly replace one conditioning WOD per week with the boxing workout. While this is definitely sub-optimal, if done properly, it can work. Working the heavy bag is a smoker.

Start out with 5-6 rounds of one minute each, with a one-minute rest interval. If you’re new to bag work, that’s probably all you’re going to be able to manage while still achieving speed, precision, and power in your punches. For the first 2-3 weeks, focus on one punch per round (there are literally, THOUSANDS of quality tutorials on how to execute the punches correctly on Youtube. There’s probably tens of thousands of shitty ones, but finding a quality tutorial shouldn’t be particularly difficult). For the first round, throw the left jab (for right-handers. For southpaws, it will be a right jab, etc). Just throw the punch, recover, and repeat, for the duration of your round. For the second round, throw the straight right, over and over and over. Follow with the left hook and the left and right uppercut.

While you can incorporate the right hook—I do—a very convincing argument can be made that the right hook has no place in boxing. There’s little, in traditional, Queensbury Rules boxing, that it offers that the straight right doesn’t do better. I like it and practice it because it allows me to throw heavy with my right, while staying deep inside of clinch range.

After a few weeks of this; once you’re throwing the punches correctly, driving from the ground, through your hips, using good biomechanics, so that you’re achieving speed, precision, and power, start working combinations. I use a half-dozen very basic combinations, and I cycle through them, over and over and over. It’s much like combat shooting. Advanced skill is nothing more than a sublime mastery of the fundamentals. I’ve done these basic combinations so often that I can probably execute them properly in my sleep (my wife likes to claim that I DO throw them in my sleep…).

The most basic of course, is the “ol’ one-two.” Every boxing sessions should start withis combination, over and over, for the duration of at least one round. It’s the foundation combination for all good boxing. As my good buddy Paul Sharp says, “the truth is you will do a lot of damage to the majority of the population simply by having the ability to throw a hard jab-cross combo.” Like the man said, mastering the one-two will solve most problems that can be solved by punching.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t dive in deeper. “Most problems” isn’t “all problems.” I follow the one-two round with a second round, running the left jab-straight right-left hook combination. Boxers refer to this as the 1-2-3. It’s both a very basic boxing combination, and relatively complicated to pull off, since the shifts in balance that are required can be tough if you’re not coordinated, but they have to happen, and fast, to make the combination work. For the duration of the round, every time I throw this combination, I’ll alternate between throwing the hook to the jaw/ear, or the ribs (or more accurately, because of the level of my aiming strip, to the armpit. That punch, delivered there, will fuck your whole week up, and give you nightmares for a month afterwards).

For the rest of my training session, I alternate between left jab-left hook, and left jab-left hook-straight right. I also spend a lot of time working combinations in the clinch distance. To train these, I stand close enough that I can press my forehead into the bag. If the bag moves, I move with it, keeping that forehead pressure on, as I work my combinations, except when I need to make space for a specific blow. For example, right uppercut to the body-left uppercut to the body-left hook to the head. In order to get my body behind that left hook, I need to snap my head up and back as I throw the punch. As soon as it lands though, I’m driving my head back into contact with the bag in my clinch position.

After performing the one minute rounds for a few weeks, we step up to 3×2 minute rounds, still with one minute rest intervals. Then, after a couple more weeks, we step up to 2×3 minute rounds, again with the one minute rest intervals. Then, each week, I’ll add one minute on to the end of the workout, until I’m doing 5-6×3 minute rounds, always with the same one-minute rest intervals.

As an alternative, occasionally, I’ll break the last round up, back to one minute rounds, and really push my speed, trying to get as many fast, accurate, powerful punches as I can, within that one minute. After a week or two of this, I’ll go back to the 5-6×3 minute rounds, and quantify that the improvements have carried over to the longer time frame.

Working Footwork on the Heavy Bag

It has been said that footwork is the foundation of fighting. It’s true. In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, we refer to that position of balance between mobility and stability as “base.” The concept applies just as much to boxing as it does to ground fighting. If you lack mobility, you’re going to get your head knocked off. If you lack stability though, you’re never going to be able to deliver solid punches that land with power. Without that requisite stability to develop power, you’ll just be playing patty-cake. While I don’t mind playing patty-cake with my kids, I’m not interested in playing it with a grown man.

Developing and practicing your footwork on the heavy bag is essential. Moving, and staying with the bag while you’re punching, but moving away when you’re not, is the foundation. It’s the age-old concept of “stick-and-move.” Shit, it’s guerrilla warfare 101, isn’t it?

Here’s how we teach it:

From a position facing the bag, get your hands up to protect your head, and start a nice, relaxed bob-and-weave movement. Throw your combination off the bob-and-weave. As you finish your combination, pivot off the line towards your left, and immediately hit your bob-and-weave, and throw the combination again. This time, as you come off the combination, pivot off the line to your right. You can also choose to always pivot left for one round, and always pivot right for the next round. The key is that you’re trying to make the stick-and-move intuitive, without giving up the initiative and forward drive of the fight by moving straight backwards. You will never be able to move backwards as fast as the enemy can move forward. Remember, “mobility kills.” The guy with better mobility kills the opponent. The dude with less mobility gets killed. It doesn’t matter the scale of the fight, or the weapons involved.

Sparring

At some point, of course, you’re going to have to spar. You simply cannot internalize and master the defensive and counteroffensive aspects of boxing without getting out there and banging. Hitting a heavy bag develops crucial attributes, but you have to fine-tune them on an opponent. It’s the boxing equivalent of square range work, versus getting out in the woods, or into the shoot house, and putting those skills to practical work.

Most importantly however, from the boxing-specific standpoint, until you’ve eaten a punch—or a hundred—you don’t know how to fight. It doesn’t matter if you “plan” on always sucker-punching your opponent from an ambush. At some point, you’re going to try that on a guy who isn’t a pussy. He’s going to take your best shot…and giggle about it. At that moment, you’d better have eaten a few punches, so you know that you can. Further, it might not be you who does the sucker-punching. When Sam the Street Skell bounces a straight right off your jaw, you need to have experienced catching a punch with your chin a few times in order to shake it off and get back into the fight, before he finishes you.

Conclusions

A basic level of combatives ability is essential if you intend to be able to fight, to protect kith and kin. A sub-second draw is great, and running a carbine at an expert level is great. When the situation doesn’t allow for either of these two choices to solve your problem though, being able to knock a fucker out, with a well-placed series of punches that carry the weight of thousands of repetitions on the heavy bag, might be the answer that you do need. Remember, $150 for a 100# heavy bag at the local sporting goods store (and they’re WAY cheaper on Craigslist! I think I paid $50 for mine), is significantly cheaper than reconstructive surgery—or a funeral.

Make no mistake, punches can kill. I know more than one guy who spent a significant amount of time in prison because he punched a dude, the dude went down, bumped his head, and didn’t get up again. It’s far better if you’re the guy throwing that shot than if you’re the guy catching that shot.

Skill Is The Foundation of Mindset

My good buddy, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, boxing coach, and developer of the Immediate Action Combatives/Jiu-Jitsu program, the inestimable Cecil Burch, makes some valid points, that apply, not just to combatives, but to PT, shooting, SUT, and every other fucking thing we discuss.

Quit claiming you’ve got “mindset” on your side, unless you’ve done the work that builds that mindset.

http://www.iacombatives.com/2015/01/20/can-mindset-trump-skill/

…and you should get to one of this courses.

Why We Suck, And How To Fix That

The Foole doth thinke he is wise, but the wiseman knowes himselfe to be a Foole.” –William Shakespeare

In 1999, Cornell University Department of Psychology professor, David Dunning, and a graduate student, Justin Kruger, published a paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, that was titled, “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.” The effect they described has subsequently come to be known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect. This Effect plays a vital role in the preparedness community, even though most people are completely unaware of its existence.

Incompetent people do not recognize—scratch that, cannot recognize—just how incompetent they are…” –David Dunning

There are numerous possible causes of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. The most obvious is simple ego. No one wants to think of himself as a complete fucking retard, or even simply as being below-average. Thus, we tend to inflate our own self-assessments. We also tend to be judgmental pricks, so it is easier to recognize ignorance and incompetence in someone else, reinforcing the illusion that we are above average.

As Dr. Dunning pointed out in an article last year, for Pacific-Standard, “We Are All Confident Idiots,” however, the core case of the Effect is simple damned ignorance. “An ignorant mind is precisely not a spotless, empty vessel, but one that is filled with the clutter of irrelevant or misleading life experiences, facts, intuitions, strategies, algorithms, heuristics, metaphors, and hunches that regrettably have the feel of useful and accurate knowledge.”

This false “knowledge,” predicated on irrelevant—or even simply misinterpreted—experience and education, leads to confirmation bias of the worst sort. We have “life experience” so we must know what the fuck we are talking about, right? We’re professionally educated, so we must “know,” right? Well…maybe…

The problem is, too often, if one or two experiences appear to confirm our beliefs, we then rest easy in our confident knowledge, and cease to continue pushing. We’ve done “XXX” so we don’t need to keep training and pushing ourselves. This is why we see “experts” in “XYZ” set of skills in the preparedness world, despite a complete lack of credible experience or education, and demonstrably false lessons being taught as “gospel,” even in the face of contradictory evidence. This is why we see guys in the training industry teaching the same TTP they learned twenty or thirty years ago, who have refused to adapt and modify their knowledge base, despite contradictory evidence from more recent, more widespread experience.

In “gun talk,” this is the “unconscious incompetence” level of learning. We just don’t know what we don’t know. We’re so ignorant, we cannot even recognize that we are ignorant.

Before someone jumps in with, “But, John, you’re an arrogant prick yourself! You’re always talking shit about our training!” You’re right. I am—in no way, shape, or form—immune to the Dunning-Kruger Effect. NO ONE IS IMMUNE! Even Dr. Dunning admits that he is not immune to it.

However, there are ways to overcome it, assuming we are not willing to rest on our laurels, and believe we somehow have all the answers, and do not need to continue seeking. One of these methods is learning accurate self-assessment. We need to develop the ability to clearly see—and actually appreciate—what we do not know.

One of these is the establishment of standards of performance. If I set the IDPA Classifier in front of you, as a standard metric for performance with a concealed-carry pistol, and tell you, “The standard is to classify ‘Master,’” then you have a standard metric to test yourself against. If you cannot achieve that (it’s actually not particularly difficult to achieve. I did it a few weeks ago, and was fishing for my spare magazine in a cargo pocket, instead of a belt-mounted mag pouch…). If I tell you, “The standard for rifles is to be able to hit a C-Zone steel silhouette, from the standing, at 100 meters, in less than 1.5 seconds,” then you have a quantifiable standard to attain.

This leaves no room for argument, or self-delusion. You can either achieve the standard, or you cannot. It’s all very black-and-white. This is nice, because as Americans, we tend to appreciate things that are black-and-white. Grays are too nebulous for our comfort.

The problem of the Dunning-Kruger Effect still rears its ugly head though, in the establishment of those standards. What defines an acceptable performance metric? Someone who served in Iraq, was never in a gunfight outside of one of the metropolitan areas of that country, and never saw the opportunity to make a shot on a bad guy, past 100 meters, may consider 100 meters to be an acceptable standard of performance. At the same time, there are a lot of papers coming out of the Army War College, with Afghanistan veteran officers, many with competitive marksmanship backgrounds as well, who are positing that anything less than everyone being able to shoot at 500 meters, is an unacceptably low standard.

Lots of trainers in the civilian world think that anything beyond 7-10 meters, with a carbine or pistol, is unrealistic for the civilian gun owner, training in the “home defense carbine.” The very establishment of standards of performance is just as fraught with the dangers of Dunning-Kruger Effect as not having standards is.

The same applies to physical training, combatives, land navigation, and more. We have to determine a base metric for “acceptable” levels of skill, but we need to recognize that even those may be inadequate.

The solution is critical thinking. We need to be able to apply logic and empiricism, correctly, and predicate our conclusions on humility (trust me, humility is NOT one of my virtues, I get it, this is HARD!). In short, we need to be skeptical, certainly of what someone else publishes, but mostly, of ourselves and our conclusions and abilities.

Accurate, objective self-assessment can be developed, but it requires work and humility. Instead of assuming that what we know is “Truth,” we can accept that it was “true” within a specific, limited context. Even then however, our “knowledge” and “expertise” may be grounded in false knowledge.

Using the example of the 100 meters standard in Iraq, we can see this is the case. There have been dozens of cases of shooters—and not just snipers, but common riflemen—making shots in excess of 500 meters, even in urban environments. The longest 7.62x51mm sniper shot ever, was taken at almost 1200 meters in an urban environment in Iraq. So, the “authority of experience” of someone who never even saw anyone take a shot past 100 meters there, and thus claims, “you don’t need to train for shots past 50/100/200/etc meters, in an urban environment,” is automatically suspect, isn’t it?

At the same time, the standard answer of “well, I can hit a silhouette at 500 meters, so I’m a ‘rifleman!’” is equally suspect, since a) 500 meters is considerably less than 1200 meters, and b) most fights still happen at considerably less than 500 meters, but at extremely fast speeds.

At a recent local training event, someone asked me how important the 3-5 second rush was, and if it would really hurt anything if they took a couple extra seconds getting to their next position. To answer them, we set the timer up. At 100 meters, from the standing, a couple of us managed to smoke a hit to a C-Zone steel silhouette, in less than one second. Would it have taken us longer if the target had been moving? Maybe. How much longer, though? Twice as long? Three times as long? Of course, I wouldn’t have to hit the C-Zone, either. Any hit on them would have at least slowed them down a step, allowing me a follow-up shot. So, maybe it would have taken the same amount of time—or even less—since we’d have been shooting at a larger target.

The 3-5 second rush was developed, because it was predicated on the idea that it would take some period of time for the enemy to notice you were moving, then they’d have to acquire a sight picture, before finally breaking the shot. Hopefully, by then, you would be back on the ground, behind cover, making their shot “wasted.”

So, what relevance does the Dunning-Kruger Effect have on our training for preparedness security operations?

Number One, assume that what you know is wrong, or at least, incomplete. Continue seeking new knowledge, and improving your frame-of-reference, by making it more broad.

At the same time, question the frame-of-reference of the people you’re getting your information from. Is their experience and knowledge base relevant to your needs? Do you have the support assets they have/had, when they developed their knowledge base? Do you need to modify their approach, based on these differences? Do you really, or is that your cognitive bias and/or laziness speaking?

Number Two, assume that whatever performance standard you develop will be a MINIMUM standard. You’re not the only guy out there trying to get better, and become more dangerous. Once you’ve achieved a MINIMUM standard, raise the bar of performance. DO NOT EVER SETTLE!

I’ll give you a couple examples from my personal recent experience.

I’ve long assumed I was moderately good with my carbine, and with my pistol. I mean, shit, I was an SOF soldier for the better part of a decade. I’ve been shot at, and I’ve shot people. Shit, I’m good to go. In the interest of not succumbing to Dunning-Kruger Effect and my own experiential cognitive biases however, I decided to set up some performance metrics to test myself and those with whom I train regularly. We decided to run some basic tests at the rifle range and at the pistol range.

For rifle, we looked at the 3-5 second rush. We operated off the assumption that anyone we would have to fight would a) NOT be a fucking idiot, and b) would be at least as well trained as the average US infantryman. For a minimum standard, we decided that, out to 200 meters, regardless of the firing position you needed to use, to get hits at the given range (we tested at 50, 75, 100, and 200 meters), you needed to be able—at a MINIMUM—to get a hit within 5 seconds. It didn’t matter if you were firing a single shot, or dumping half your magazine: as long as you got a hit within five seconds, we would score it a “go.”

Within two iterations, even our slowest people were scoring their hits in under three seconds. More than one were getting hits in less than two seconds, even at 200 meters. We lowered the time standard, and said, “Okay, you should be able to get a hit on steel in less than three seconds.” We didn’t settle for the easily achievable, even though that was our initial “standard.” Pretty soon, at any distance from 0-100 meters, EVERYONE was getting hits in less than two seconds. Several were scoring their first hit in less than 1.5 seconds, and three or four of us were getting hits in less than one second. Guess what?

The performance standard got lowered again. Now, we have a standard of “you need to be able to get a hit, from your rifle, on a C-Zone steel silhouette targets, in less than 1.0 seconds, at any distance from 0-100 meters.” For those that couldn’t do that yet, they have a measurable, quantifiable performance metric to try and achieve. For those that already managed it? They have a base standard to maintain, and we’ll be pushing to drop that standard below 0.75 seconds, and then 0.5 seconds, while simultaneously reducing the size of the acceptable target zone.

Obviously, that’s just one aspect of the performance standard for rifle, but it’s a challenging one. Hitting that single hit in less than one second also allowed us to get hits on two separate targets in less than two seconds, at 50 meters. How dangerous does that make you? How fast can the other guy get his weapon into the fight at 50 meters? What about his buddy? Is he training to the same “elite” standard, or is he accepting some “standard” he read on the Internet somewhere, developed twenty years ago, that says a single hit at 50 meters in two seconds, is adequate?

For pistols, we used a two-part qualification. We used the current FBI Qualification and the IDPA Classifier, both with modifications to make them more accuracy focused, while still insisting on the time standards. Here’s a newsflash for you: lots of people can pass the FBI Qualification, as written, and LOTS of people can achieve Master on the IDPA Classifier (seriously, if I can do it, ANYONE can do it!). If you’re not shooting AT LEAST, to that level, then you’re not trained, regardless of what you think.

PT is a deceased equine that I like to take a Louisville Slugger to, regularly. Is part of it that I enjoy doing PT? Sure. I like throwing heavy iron around. I like folding the heavy bag in half with punch after punch. More importantly though, I know there are guys out there who lift more than I do, and run faster than I do. There are guys out there who make my level of shooting ability look like a kid in 1992 playing Duck Hunter on Nintendo. I do PT—hard and heavy—because I need to level that playing field, as much as possible. If they can lift more than me, and/or run faster than me, then I need to be able to outshoot them. If they can outshoot me, I’d better be able to outrun them. If they are faster than me, stronger than me, and can shoot faster than me? Well, I’m fucked, but you can bet, I’m going to do my damnedest to keep trying to catch up and surpass them.

Nature doesn’t give a shit—and neither does the enemy—that I’m forty damned years old, have lots of obligations competing for my limited time, and struggle with being a lazy piece-of-shit. If I’m going to be able to protect my wife and kids, I HAVE to make time to meet the standards, and then to drive past though standards, and set tougher ones to achieve.

It doesn’t matter if I met the standards this week. All that matters is I’m better today than I was yesterday, and that I’ll be better tomorrow than I am today. Set your standards, and then blow those cocksuckers out of the water, by pushing past them.

Or, go be a pussy, but do that somewhere else.

Valkyries, Valhalla, and the Way of the Samurai: Soft Standards and the Stoic Philosophy

Contrary to popular current mythology, and the History Channel’s Vikings television show, dying in battle was not a ticket to sex with Valkyries, getting drunk on mead, and partying with Odin in Valhalla, in pre-Christian Germanic belief. The most commonly accepted view of the mythos—amongst those scholars that accept that the belief system actually encompassed Valhalla as an afterlife destination, which is far from universal amongst historians and archeologists—is that the Valkyries, the “Choosers of the Slain,” would scour the battlefield dead, and select half of them to bring to Odin’s Hall. The other half went elsewhere (Freyja’s Hall, but that’s not actually germane to the conversation here).

Thus, in the ancient Germanic warrior culture, regardless of how brave you were, how hard you fought, and how well-trained you were, there was only a 50/50 chance that you would get to go to Valhalla. Ultimately, the choice was outside of your control. So, why would a warrior train for war, venture forth gladly to the battlefield, and then perform valorous acts that almost guaranteed death in the long run, if there was only a 50% chance of getting what you wanted?

In his classic treatise on the philosophy behind the Samurai code of “Bushido,” entitled Hagakure, and often billed as “The Book of the Samurai,” retired Samurai-turned-monk Yamamoto Tsunetomo, wrote that “the way of the samurai is found in death.” He admonished young warriors to calmly accept that death would occur on the battlefield, regardless of the efforts of the individual. Despite this, the samurai trained in earnest for battlefield effectiveness from youth onward. It didn’t matter that you calmly accepted that you were going to die, you still trained hard to be as lethal as humanly possible.

There is a school of philosophy that was originated in ancient Greece, and codified by Roman philosophers like Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and Seneca. That school was called “Stoicism.” It was probably not what you think.

In modern colloquialism, “stoic” has a meaning that is not congruent with the origins of the word within that school of philosophy. In our use, stoic is defined as enduring pain or hardship without showing emotions or complaining. When we read the ancient philosophers like Aurelius though, we see that he—by many considered the definitive writer of the school of Stoicism—greatly mourned the deaths of his sons. He grew angry with poor performance by his subordinate military commanders. Bereavement and anger are contrary to the modern use of the word stoic, but the greatest writer on the school of philosophy that gave us that word was more than willing to admit that he felt both emotions. How does that work?

More importantly, what do northern European tribal warriors, Japanese samurai, and ancient Roman philosophers, have to do with modern survivalism, preparedness, and training? Pretty much every-fucking-thing.

Whether we use the Roman term “stoicism,” or we discuss Germanic warlords, or Japanese samurai, we’re talking about the same thing. Stoicism is the calm acceptance of responsibility. It is the acceptance that I am responsible for what I am capable of controlling. I cannot control what anyone else does or does not do. I cannot control the outcome of events, after I’ve done the work.

Retired Delta Sergeant-Major Pat McNamara writes about this when he recommends performance-based training, rather than outcome-based training. We don’t worry about the outcome. We focus our efforts on what we are responsible for. It doesn’t matter if I hit a Master classification on the IDPA Classifier. What matters is whether I take responsibility for the actions—the training—that will allow me to achieve that. It doesn’t matter if I hit a sub-1:00 second draw to first shot break with my Glock. I cannot control that.

Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it?

It makes sense though, when you stop trying to control anything except yourself. Rather than trying to hit a 1:00 second draw to first shot, focus on executing the draw, sight alignment, and trigger press as fast as you are capable of, while still performing each step of the process as correctly as you are capable of. If you get a 1:00 second draw to first shot, great. If you don’t, but you did everything as fast as you were capable of, but still did it as perfect as you are capable of, great.

When the bell tolls for you, and you are in a gunfight, you have exactly zero control of the outcome. You have zero control over who you will be fighting. You have zero control over what training he has had. You have zero control over his speed and accuracy. You have zero control over whether he moves at the moment you break your shot, causing you to miss. You are not in control over anything that you are not in control of. Accept it. Embrace it. Accept responsibility for what you are responsible for.

So, what are you responsible for, that will make a difference? Why bother training, if we don’t have control anyway?

You are responsible for you. You are responsible for your actions. You do have control over who your enemy will be fighting. You have control over the training you will have had. You have control over what speed and accuracy you will be able to achieve. You have control over whether you are fit enough to move, fast enough. You are in control of everything that you are in control of. Accept that responsibility.

The Germanic warrior trained hard, to be better than his foe, so that he could perform valorous acts on the battlefield, and hoped that the Valkyries noticed, and took him, if it turned out that his foe was better than him. The Samurai trained hard so that he could perform well, so that hopefully, his ancestors would recognize his honor in the afterlife.

We can set performance standards. “You need to be able to achieve X in XX:XX seconds, and then you are qualified.” That’s fine. If you’re willing to accept that, then fine. Accept responsibility for it. Perhaps it will be enough.

The better way; the Stoic way accepted by warrior cultures throughout history, and throughout the world though, is to take responsibility for yourself. Accept that you have absolute control over what you have control over, and don’t worry about the rest of it. If you take the responsibility you need to take, then you will perform. If you don’t, you will fail.

You cannot control whether you achieve X in XX:XX. What you can control is, “I will do XYZ every day. I will try to perform better and faster, every time I perform XYZ. If I do this, eventually, I will achieve X in XX:XX, then I will continue to improve.”

“Hard” standards of performance are, by definition, minimal standards. “Soft” standards are superior to hard standards. They require stoic acceptance of the struggle. They require you to continue trying to improve. “Hard” standards are about “stay safe.” “Soft” standards are about “fuck safe, stay dangerous.”

I taught a TC3 class in Idaho this weekend past. After the training one night, at supper with some of the students, we were discussing PT. You can follow any number of PT programs out there. I describe a program in Volume One of The Reluctant Partisan. Rob Shaul of Mountain Athlete, located in Jackson, Wyoming has “tactical athlete” specific training programs. Gym Jones in Salt Lake City, UT provides training for tactical athletes. Crossfit is—of course—popular with many tactical athletes.

Ultimately, if you want to do PT to improve yourself, it’s not particularly difficult. Lift more today than you lifted yesterday, and lift more tomorrow than you can lift today. Run or ruck further and faster today than you did yesterday, and run or ruck further and faster tomorrow than you do today. Any strength and conditioning specialist or personal trainer will, of course, tell you that this is a gross oversimplification. You have to factor in all the variables: nutrition, rest and recovery, etc.

Bullshit. If you walked out in your front yard right now, and picked up a 45-lb Olympic barbell off the ground and pressed it all the way over your head, and did that five times, then repeated that—and nothing else—every single day, rain, shine, sleet, or snow, adding five pounds every day, in a month, you would be fitter than you are today. If you walk outside tomorrow, and you walk two miles, as fast as you can walk that two miles, and tomorrow, you repeated it, but threw ten pounds into a backpack while you did it, and repeated that every day for a month; you would be fitter—faster and stronger—than you are today.

People bitch and whine all the time in the comments on this blog about my exhortations to do PT, shoot, and train. “It’s too hard!” “I’m too crippled.” “I’m too old.” “It’s cold outside.” “It’s too hot.”

That’s fine. Blame it on the environment. I don’t give a shit.

You can’t control whether it will be hard or easy. You cannot control your past injuries. You cannot control your age. You cannot control the weather. You can control your reactions to those things. If you choose to let them stop you, fine. Just accept responsibility for it. The difficulty of exercise and training, your old injuries, your age, the weather; none of those things are in your control. They cannot control you either. You, and you alone, are responsible for your actions. It’s not your age or the weather that’s stopping you from being dangerous. It’s being a whiny little bitch who wants to blame someone else for your failings that stops you from being dangerous.

Aristotle Thinks You’re An Asshole

We spend a lot of time on this blog, discussing the importance of building what John Robb terms a “resilient community,” while I turn back to the more traditional “tribe.” One of the recurring themes that arises in the commentary to these articles is the inability of people to find and befriend “like-minded people” to band together with for protection and security.

If this is your problem, rest assured, Aristotle thinks you’re an asshole. In his Nichomean Ethics, after pointing out that friendships are essential to the human experience (another example of classical antiquity being smarter than the ‘retreat survivalist.’), Aristotle went on to describe friendships as having three fundamental bases.

The first type of friendship that Aristotle described is the friendship wherein we like someone because they’re simply enjoyable to be around. This is the college buddy that you still hang around with because he’s good for laughs, or because he throws great parties. Aristotle explained that this was among the lowest forms of friendship, and they seldom last any great length of time. They’re not what most mature people would describe as “real” friendships.

This friendship—whether you are the guy who enjoys hanging out with someone, or you’re the guy who people enjoy hanging out with—stops, the minute shit gets tough. It’s entertaining to point out that “laughter is the best medicine,” and we need court jesters, especially in times of stress, but if that’s the only value someone is bringing to a relationship? Meh.

The second type of friendship that Aristotle mentioned, was also a “lower” form of friendship. Today, most of us generally view this type of relationship as only being valued by people who are inherently pieces-of-shit. These are the relationships where one party (or both), find utility in the friendship.

Aristotle wrote, “Those who pursue utility….sometimes….do not even find each other pleasant; there they do not need such companionship unless they are useful to each other; for they are pleasant to each other only in so far as they rouse in each other hopes of something good to come.” It’s not necessary that either party to the friendship is being mercenary per se. It’s simply a matter that the motivation for being friends is “what’s in it for me.”

This is ultimately the issue for most survivalists and preppers trying to build tribe among other preppers. We look for “well, what kind of preps does this person have? Do they share the same political values as me? Will they help me fight the good fight, politically?” Again, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this; it’s a reason for developing a friendship, it’s just not the highest form of friendship, and when we’re building a tribe—from scratch, mind you—we need the highest levels of friendship, trust, and frith.

I repeatedly suggest a thorough, annual reading of Dale Carnegies’ “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” and I stand by that. It’s important for people to recognize however, that Carnegie was writing for the businessman who needed to develop rapid, ultimately relatively shallow, business friendships of a utilitarian nature. You need to use those tactics, when meeting people, but you also need to go far, far past that step.

Aristotle also described the highest form of friendship. Considering that much of what we understand as modern, liberal (in the Classical sense, not the contemporary political sense) Western values are largely derived from Aristotle’s writing, it should be no real surprise that most people’s concept of what “real” friendship, at the highest level is, coincides pretty closely with Aristotle’s definition.

“Perfect friendship is of those who are good, and alike in virtue; for these wish each other well alike to each other…” Different from pleasure- or utility-based friendships, true friendships…the type of friendships that tribes must be based on (after all, remember, we’re talking about building a group of people that meets the definition of “kith and kin”) involve genuine care for the well-being of the other person/people, not mere ego issues.

This is not—as many anarchists would like to believe—a matter of radical self-sacrifice. It’s simply a matter of genuine concern for the well-being of the other party, regardless of the benefits to the self. This is the guy who stands up and teaches classes to his local survival group, not for his ego, but because he genuinely wants to pass on good information for the well-being of his friends, not because he’s getting paid, or because he needs to stroke his ego. This is the guy who shows up at 0600, on his day off, to help a neighbor get his crop in, and doesn’t ask anything in return, because he knows he doesn’t need to ask: the neighbor will be there next weekend, when HE needs a hand moving some furniture.

The problem that I see too often in the preparedness community is the “John, how do I find like-minded people to build tribe with?” questions we constantly get.

You don’t “find” like-minded people to become your friends. If that happens, it just happens, because you happen to meet like-minded people that you express a genuine interest in. The most important lesson of Aristotle’s discussion of friends is, looking in on-line communities for “prepper groups” to join is, how are you going to have a legitimate interest in the well-being of someone you don’t know?

You don’t know if those people in that group share your values. You don’t know if they share your work ethic. You don’t know anything about them. Oh, wait…you know what they said on the Internet, or on the telephone? You met them for beers once, and they said all the right things? Shit, I’ve charmed a girl out of her pants over a beer, by knowing “all the right things” to say…didn’t mean she got a long-term relationship out of it!

Ultimately, as was once said on the second best show on television, “Big Bang Theory,” (the best is undoubtedly “Vikings,” duh….), “There is no algorithm for making friends!”

You’ve already got friends. If you don’t, well, the problem is you, not other people. Cherish the friends you have, continue developing those friendships. If your friendships are pleasure-based, or are strictly utility-based, start trying to find greater interest in your friends’ well-being. Perhaps a little self-sacrifice, for THEIR good, would do YOU good?

Build your tribe by strengthening the friendships and relationships you have.

Laying Foundations: Building Auxiliary Cells

“John, can you write an article on how to get started building the auxiliary? For the people that don’t see themselves as combatants.” –Question from a reader.

We’ve spent a lot of time discussing the roles of the auxiliary, over the course of this blog. From providing logistics, communications, and intelligence collection services, to providing transportation to the underground and the guerrilla force; from developing and running safe house and underground hospital facilities, to acting as a “plug-a-hole” reserve fighting forces for underground and guerrilla operations, there’s a wide variety of possible roles for members of the auxiliary to fulfill.

Within each of those roles, there is also a broad variety of sub-categories for auxiliary personnel to fulfill. Looking at the wide range of “duties” of the auxiliary, it readily becomes obvious that we need an idea of where to start. There’s an old cliché, of course, that says “the best place to begin is the beginning.”

Contrary to the popular misconception of too many in the tough-guy “prepper/survivalist/III%” culture, a guerrilla force or underground “living off the land” does not mean they’re out there gathering roots and berries, and catching rabbits with 550 cord snares. That MAY play a role in logistics, but the guerrilla force that ends up in those dire of straits, is pretty well fucked. They’ll spend more time trying to keep from starving than they will in achieving their strategic end goals.

Similarly, “living off the land,” is not simply a matter of stealing chickens and cows from the local civilian populace, and damn the consequences. If you want an idea of how well that works out, I would heartily suggest studying the efforts of Napoleon’s army in the Peninsular War. They weren’t guerrillas, they were foreign invaders, but the principles still apply. All you’re going to do is piss off friend and foe alike.

The purpose of the auxiliary is to provide both logistical an intelligence support to the underground and guerrilla force. They achieve this by coordinating the support efforts, ensuring that the local civilian populace that is supportive of the force is protected, and helping provide support for the guerrilla and underground, while any “let’s steal some cows” efforts are targeted only at those hostile to the efforts, and who cannot be converted to supporting them.

The auxiliary in traditional Maoist insurgency conducts clandestine support functions by organizing people on a regional, district, or sector basis, depending on the degree to which guerrilla forces are organized.” –US Army FM 3-05.201 Special Forces Unconventional Warfare Operations, APR 2003

Therein lies the crux of the “how do I develop an auxiliary?” question.

Who is the guerrilla force or the underground that you are supporting? It need not be formed and active yet—in fact, generally should not be—but you need to know who they are, in order to support them. What is their strategic goal, and what tactics will they be using to achieve those goals? Without this knowledge, you’re not part of the auxiliary, you’re just a dude with a bunch of shit hoarded in your basement, jerking off to Internet pictures of fat guys in camouflage.

The problem of course, is that—unless you belong to an organized group, like your local militia—there’s no way to know, for sure, the critical answers.

If you don’t know what unit(s) you’ll be supporting, you don’t know what their strategic goals are going to be. The militia/III% “movement” in this country is—sadly—a joke of disjointed, divergent polarities, most of them “led” by somebody on a power trip that wants to be the king-shit, and refuses to even consider working together with nearby groups because they might “take over” or something.

One militia group might have decided, their only purpose is to protect their county, while another is gung-ho to go anywhere within their state that they feel requires their presence. A third group, meanwhile, is running across state borders, completely ignoring their claims of “constitutional authority.” They are, in fact, conducting an armed invasion of a neighboring, sovereign state…

Finally, a fourth group may be trying to position itself for a federal-level power struggle, trying to draw in “true believers” to support its efforts to back a coup of some sort.

I have, since long before I started writing the Mountain Guerrilla blog, posited that “we don’t need a revolution. We ARE a revolution.” So, what the FUCK does that mean?

It means, you need to ask yourself, “why do I care about ‘survival?’ Why do I care about ‘liberty?’”

Why do I care about ‘survival?’”
Are you interested in survival, no matter what? I’ll let you in on a secret? It’s not going to work. We’re all going to die. The only choices we have are how we live in the meantime, and—hopefully—how we die (well or poorly, not the mechanism of lethality, necessarily). So, what’s the real reason you stockpile guns, ammunition, and food?

I would argue that, from an evolutionary biology standpoint—and from a moral standpoint for most people—the reason we are interested in “survival,” is because we want to ensure that our children/grandchildren/loved ones survive. We tend to believe the best way to ensure that is by preparing for bad shit, and surviving ourselves. Right?

That’s a pretty solid reason, actually. It also ties into the “tribal/community autarky” strategic goals I discussed in Volume Two of The Reluctant Partisan (and in even greater detail in the forthcoming third book). That is simply a strategy of not worrying about what the fuckwits in DC are doing, and focusing on your local community of friends and family. Of course, this also drastically impacts the fund-raising and recruiting efforts of any “national ‘militia’ organizations,” but really, fuck them. Local, local, local; always. If every liberty-advocate in the USA would quit worrying about what the federal government is saying/doing/trying, and focus on teaching a dozen of their closest family and friends what living independently means, and convince those 12 people to live that life, and do the same? As the guys at Action Figure Therapy say, “problem solved. Problem staying solved.”

“But…Liberty!”
Why do you care about ‘liberty?’ What does that word actually mean, to you? The Oxford English Dictionary (and for any thinking person, that is really, the authoritative arbiter of word definition in the English language), liberty has two basic definitions that are applicable when most people discuss it.

1) the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.

2) the power or scope to act as one pleases.
What if I told you—and brace yourself, this is one of those Matrix-shattering moments in life—that the only people that can have a negative impact on your Liberty, using those two definitions, are members of your local community?

Oh, sure, the federal beast can pass laws. They can tell you “you’re not allowed to do XXX!” They can say, “you MUST do YYY!” But really? They cannot enforce those edicts. Even if they had the physical capability for doing so, it’s someone local to you that would have to tell them you either were or were not doing what you were told. It’s going to take someone local to you to actually come investigate and find out that “Yes, in fact, Mr. Liberty Advocate IS actually daring to do XXX!”

So, if you can either a) keep your local friends, family, and neighbors from knowing that you’re actually daring to do XXX, or you can convince them that you doing XXX is really, not that big a deal, and the federal government overlords are full of shit, then you really have nothing to fear about infringements on your Liberty, do you?

Want a couple of examples?

1) Colorado
2) Washington
3) Alaska
4) Oregon

Every one of those states has said, “Go fuck yourself with a crowbar!” and legalized recreational marijuana within their states. What has the federal government done? How many arrests and trials of residents of those states, in federal court, have we seen?

Now, that’s one thing. That involved combined efforts from small, local groups, combining to exert their influence on a state government. What about at the local level? What about tribal?

Do you believe that, on the day marijuana was legalized, all those people that are smoking pot in Colorado suddenly decided, “Oh, hey, I’ve ALWAYS wanted to try getting high! I don’t have to worry about going to jail now, so I’m gonna go smoke out, bitches!”

There may very well have been a few. The vast majority however, had been smoking pot, despite it being illegal, prior to that. Yet, they weren’t ALL in jail or prison, were they? They just focused on their local community, buying pot from people they trusted, or who were vetted to them by people they trusted…and for the vast majority of them, they got away with it, for a very lengthy period of time, even though we’ve been in a “War on Drugs!” for decades.

Of course, many readers have their hackles up right now, because I seem to be supportive of marijuana legalization, and that ol’ demon weed is BAD! It’s gonna cause niggers and spics to rape white women! It’s gonna cause white women of virtue to lose their restraint and throw themselves at Darkie! Oh no!

Fuckwits, every one of them.

A far more useful task would be, instead of worrying about what other people put in their bodies, to look at how they’re getting away with it, in those states that don’t have legalization, and learn from them. Here’s the deal, regardless of what you think about marijuana: there had to be someone growing it. There had to be someone buying it from the people growing it. There had to be others buying it, in turn, from them, and then ingesting it. Despite the fact it was/is ILLEGAL, and has had a concerted effort from federal, state, and local law enforcement, to stop it from being grown, harvested, sold, and ingested. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what you’re trying to do!

Not with marijuana, necessarily—although, can you think of a better way to finance your local tribe’s efforts? Whether you’re focused on short-sighted concerns like guns and the Second Amendment, or invasively high taxation, or any number of other issues that we need to take into consideration, due to undue federal influence.

If you could develop the same types of LOCAL networks that pot-smokers have, you’d have Liberty, in your lifetime…right-fucking-now. Today.

How?

Let’s look at guns. Everybody loves guns, right? Well, except liberals, and even they love guns, they just don’t love that you have guns. So, how do you start building your networks around guns? Well, how many of your close friends have guns and love to shoot? 4-5? 12-20? It doesn’t matter if they agree with you on religion. It doesn’t matter if they agree with you on taxes. It doesn’t matter if they agree with you on prostitution. We’re focused on ONE aspect now. We’re focused on guns.

So, let’s say you’re like me, and are kind of an asshole, so you only have 4-5 people you consider “friends.” By that, I mean, they are close enough that you would—literally—step in front of a moving train and die, facing the danger, to save their lives…and vice-versa. Of those, only 3 are serious gun guys. Now, within those 5 people, you have the nucleus of a tribe. Even though the other two aren’t gun guys, they’re loyal to you, unto death. You have frith with them. They may have other close friends who are gun guys too, but let’s focus on the three of your kinsmen that ARE gun guys. You’ve decided that you really, REALLY, REALLY, need a .338 Lapua Mag, but the fed has outlawed them. What are you going to do? You’re going to go to your gun guy friends and ask if they know anyone they trust, who has one they’d part with. In turn, they’ll go to their other gun guy friends, and ask if they know anyone that they trust, who has one. Eventually, down the trail a little bit, someone actually has one, and has decided—for whatever reason—he doesn’t need it anymore. Granted, it’s “only” a Savage 110 BA, but it IS a .338 Lapua Mag. He’ll sell it, but he wants $3500 for it.

Then, the guy down the line of friends of friends, who actually found the .338, well, he wants $500 for a finder’s fee. So, you’re going to pay $4000 for a rifle that originally cost less than $1500. That’s fucked up, isn’t it? Guess what….it’s not at all fucked up. It’s not a breach of frith, and it’s not an insult to the “cause.” It’s called the real world.

So, you pony up $4000, and hand it to your friend that you trust. He hands it to his friend, etc, all the way down the line. Two weeks later, your friend hands you a beat-to-shit Savage 110BA. You inspect it, and realize, the barrel is damned near shot out. Did you get fucked? Nope. Your auxiliary found you what you said you needed. Now, you’re going to have to replace the barrel. You can either restrict that conversation to your gun guy friends, or you can ask any of your friends that you trust, if they know a machinist or old gunsmith that can build you a barrel. It ends up costing you another $2000 to get a barrel built. You’ve now dropped $6000 on a rifle, and you don’t even have ammunition for it yet….

Newsflash, THAT’S how the underground and auxiliary work.

What The Fuck?

So, what does THAT have to do with the original question? You want to help the fight for liberty, dammit, John! You’re not worried about how you’re going to buy guns on the black market!

Patience, young Padwan. It has EVERYTHING to do with the auxiliary you want to start building.

Logistics Auxiliary Cell
1) Cellular Construction

Your cell consists of the people you know, personally, and trust—even unto Death. How many people do you know that you would trust to die—or go to Federal Pound Me In The Ass Prison for a decade—before they would rat you out? One? Two? Three, if you’re really, really blessed? That’s your cell. In turn, of the two people you trust, who trust you to the same level, they each have another one or two friends. Those people DO NOT need to meet you, or even know about you. They can know their friend has another friend he trusts as implicitly as he trusts them, but nothing else. Now, you’ve got—within the network of multiple tribal bonds—the beginning of a network.

2) Supporting the Warfighters
So, within your three-man cell, none of you are “spring chickens,” and you have recognized that you’re not going to be leading any raids or fighting off hordes of Cannibalistic San Franciscans. What you want to be able to do is provide a level of support to those that need it, who CAN fight off those hordes. How do you do that? You ask your tribesmen, “what do your friends that are young enough to fight, need to do so?” They ask their younger, fitter friends, “Hey, buddy, what gear/equipment/supplies are you short on? What do you have, but recognize is perishable/expendable, and WILL need to be replaced/resupplied in the future?”

The reply comes back, through the intermediaries, “Ammo. Gun parts. Body armor. Medical supplies. Food.”

“Great, you fucking knuckle-draggers. What kind of ammo? Parts for what guns? What type of body armor? What medical supplies?”

“Oh. Sorry. Yeah, my guy says he and six of his friends are all running M4 carbines, and SIG Sauer P226 pistols. They’ve got Level III ceramic plates for their body armor, size large, and they’re worried about basic TC3 medical supplies. Can we help?”

“Sure. Now, I know what specifically to stockpile. I’ll get on it.”

Let’s assume for a moment, that you’re an older guy, you grew up with an M14, and .45ACP, and you think 5.56 and 9mm are fucking jokes. You also know though, that you’re beyond an age where you’re interested in looking for trouble. Does it make sense to only stock 7.62×51 and .45 ACP, or would it make more sense, in order to support those guys, for you to stockpile some 5.56 and 9mm, besides?

Yeah…..

But, you’ve never taken a TC3 class, so you don’t know what medical supplies you need. You can either ask, or even better, you can take a TC3 class somewhere, and find out what medical supplies are needed, and why, in order to know what supplies will be in the greatest demand, in relation to the others.

You’ve got AR500 steel plate body armor. It’s cheap, and you’re not planning on running combat missions, so why bother blowing the extra money on ceramics? They can have steel, God Damn It!

Go take a motherfucking patrolling or SUT class, and where your steel plates for it, then come talk to me about how steel plates are “just as good.”

Do steel plates have advantages? Arguably. They’ll theoretically survive longer than ceramics. Ceramics are single-use items, right? How much does a steel plate weigh? According to the AR500armor.com website, their Level III plates (which are actually, probably NOT Level III, legally> I can’t count the number of steel plates I’ve seen tested that M855 zipped straight through), weigh 7.5 pounds. So, 15 pounds for a set.

According to the Shellback Tactical website, my Banshee plate carrier weighs 2lbs, 5oz. So, now, I’m at 17 pounds, before I start adding ammunition.

My plate carrier, with my ceramic plates, weighs less than 12#. That’s FIVE loaded magazines I can carry, before the weight even equals the steel plate body armor alone. More importantly, I can run a lot further, faster, than I can with the additional five pounds of marginal protection.

Does it cost more? Of course it does. It’s a fucking better product.

Can I afford six or seven or eight sets of ceramic plates? No. If I’ve got ten people in my “auxiliary” however, who are smart enough to set aside a set of ceramics though, I will be able to replace mine, should I need to, down the line.

Buying up supplies, to support the warfighters, without finding out what they need, and WHY they need it, is fucking retarded. You might think you’re an “expert,” but the dude at the tip of the spear is whose opinion on the subject matters. Ask.

3) But, Money!

As we pointed out above, there’s no necessity that you’ll be “giving shit away.” You MIGHT. It might turn out to be worthwhile to you, when the wolves are at your door, to say, “Hey, Joey, I know you’re gonna be out there on the line, and I can see you’re lacking body armor. I’ve got a rig set up in my basement. Let me go get it for you!” In return of course, Joey is “paying” you for the armor, by the very minor task of potentially getting shot in the face, to protect your fucking home and life!

Alternatively, if it’s some dude you don’t know, in a cell three towns away, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with telling your trusted friend, who will pass it down the line of friends to the end-user. “Hey, yeah, I’ve got a spare set of ceramic plates stashed away. I need $500 for the set.” The end-user dude, who is not part of your tribe, after all, will either pony up the $500 or he won’t. That’s not your problem.

If it’s GOING to be your problem. If they get over-run the bad guys are coming to your town next, then maybe you’ll decide to give them away after all, in the hope that he’ll stop them first. Or, maybe your friend will ask you to give them away, as a favor to his kinsman. That’s your decision to make, at the moment, based on circumstances.

In a Nutshell
So, what does it mean, to start a logistics cell? It means identifying who your guerrilla and underground force are—at least in a general sense—and finding out what they need. It means stockpiling the shit THEY will need, not what you think they will need.
It means asking your friends—whom you trust, even unto Death—to ask THEIR friends, whom they trust, even unto Death, what exactly they feel like they’re going to need. Then, it’s a matter of stockpiling it.

Intelligence Cells

Developing an intelligence cell requires that you begin by defining your area. What area are you going to conduct an IPB for? Your town? The County? The State? Once you’ve one that, you need to look at developing a complete intelligence picture, of that area. Hostile threat groups, potential allies, behavior and beliefs of non-aligned people in the area.

At the risk of sounding like a dick, I’m going to suggest two things, if you believe you want to begin developing an intel cell. 1) Take Sam Culper’s class. 2) Get Volume Two of The Reluctant Partisan, and study the two entire chapters I did on Intel Collection and Intel Analysis. Between those two activities, you’ll have a really, really solid idea on how to start developing an intel picture of your area.

When it comes to actually collecting information, most of your efforts will—necessarily—focus on open-source collection from sources like newspapers, the Internet, etc. There’s no reason however, that you can’t teach your two or three friends how to conduct tactical questioning (NOT the same thing as an interrogation), and have them teach two or three of their friends, and then ask them for specific intel product, to be gained through TQ from others that they might know.

The Role of Responsibility in a Tribe
We had friends over for supper the other night, and we sat around playing a strategy board game. As we were finishing up, the conversation turned to the efforts of the Liberty movement. Our friends are well versed in my views on neo-tribalism as the strategy of choice for survival and restoration of Liberty.

As we were talking, I brought up the fact that most of the “rights” we believe are “natural” or “God-given,” did not originate in antiquity in Greco-Roman culture, but in fact were derived from the cultures of the Celtic and Germanic language-group tribes of Northern Europe. One of those is the “right to bear arms.”

Unfortunately, in today’s world, too many have been brain-washed into the belief that this is a “god-given right,” and thus is subject to nothing. The fact is, in the culture from which the recognition of that right was derived, the “right” to bear arms was more accurately, the “responsibility” to bear arms. No free man could be righteously robbed of his right to bear arms, within his tribe. Not by chief or king, even.

In return however, in order to maintain his status as a free man, and member of the tribe, he knew he was expected, when called upon, to move towards the (extremely metaphorical in this case) sound of the guns, weapon in hand, to protect the tribe. Refusal to do so would result in “outlawry.” This didn’t mean you went to jail. This meant—basically—excommunication from the tribe.

In that time and place in history—well, prehistory, technically—not having a tribe was pretty much the same as a death sentence. You were no longer protected by the reputation and fame of your tribe’s ferocity and honor. You were fair game for any dick with a bow or spear, who decided to kill you and take your shit. Sure, you might be lucky enough to fight off one attacker. If you were a particular bad-ass, you might manage two or three (of course, if you were that much of a bad-ass, you wouldn’t have been outlawed for being a pussy in the first place, right?).

So, what does THIS have to do with being the auxiliary?

A lot of people have taken the discussion of being the auxiliary as having meant they don’t need to do PT, train with their weapons, and learn the basics of small-unit tactics. They’re the support guys, and support guys don’t fight, right?

Bullshit. You are still responsible for your own safety, ultimately. You may still be called upon, in extremis, to grab your rifle, and go help protect hearth and home.

You STILL need to learn to fight. You STILL need to do PT. You may not ever be “elite infantry” or “special operations” fit again in your life, but you still need to be as dangerous as you can be, and being fit and well-trained is a critical part of that.

Conclusion

So, how then, do we go about building an auxiliary cell?

1) Do PT and train. It is part of the task, AND it will help you understand what the end-users need.

2) Talk to your closest friends and determine if they will be fighters or not. If so, find out what they and their group of fighters feel they will need. If not, find out if they know anyone, that they trust, who will a fighter. Somewhere down the line, you will find someone. If they’re out there training, find out what they feel like they will need, or even DO need. There’s nothing saying that, just because your local network isn’t fighting RIGHT NOW, that you can’t be the auxiliary, right now, and equip some young guy with the gear he needs. Even if it’s only loaned out—through friends—when he’s training, it’s supporting their efforts.

Send one of the young studs to a class with someone. So what if you need to finance it? That’s what the auxiliary does. They provide logistical support to the warfighters. Even if the “kid” you send to a class turns out to be a flake, or he ends up moving six states away, so what? You’ll still—through your connections, and with anonymity—built connections of trust and loyalty with the group he was with when you financed it.

3) Start developing an intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) of your local area.

4) Of the friends that you hold closest, maintain those relationships, and do what you can to strengthen them. Not just with the individual friends, but between spouses and children as well. Do things together, as families, even separate from “prepper” activities. Build the bonds of frith.

5) If you have some acquaintances or “friends” of a lesser bond, who you think are like-minded, spend the effort and time to make those bonds tighter.

Open-Enrollment Classes, and Why There Are Not More Of Them.

I have never had any overwhelming desire to be a mainstream “tactical trainer.” When I started the blog, I was asked repeatedly by readers to start teaching classes, so I did. I still do.

What I won’t do….can’t do….is invest my family’s money in a piece of land somewhere, dedicated to teaching classes. That would require me to a) start targeting my articles on the blog to draw potential clients/students, including watering down my content, and b) have the foresight and intelligence to choose a spot that was centralized enough to allow me to draw from a large population base, to ensure I could get enough students to make the mortgage payments on that land, pay my rent, and feed my wife and kids.

In any case, that would require me to do things I’m just not willing to do.

I continue teaching classes, on the side, when I can. As it stands currently, I have a metric shit-ton of private, closed training classes coming up, ranging from Idaho to Tennessee, and a host of places in-between. I don’t list those classes on the blog, because, well…for whatever reasons, they are private.

I keep getting emails though, asking me where my list of upcoming open-enrollment classes are.

Folks, I don’t have a list. I have exactly one upcoming open-enrollment class, in southern Idaho, coming up the beginning of next month. Assuming all who have emailed that they are coming to that class actually get their deposits in, and show up, we have a VERY limited number of slots left in that class. Beyond that, I have zero open-enrollment classes coming up.

The only way for there to be more open-enrollment classes, is for there to be people who are willing to host those classes.

We offer combat rifle, clandestine carry pistol, patrolling/small-unit tactics, Tactical Combat Casualty Care and Grid-Down Medicine, vehicle-based patrolling operations, and CQB/Fighting in Structures. If you are interested in hosting one of these classes, as an open-enrollment class, email me, and I will forward you the information on what that involves. It’s actually, generally, a pretty painless experience, according to the past hosts I’ve discussed it with.

As I mentioned in the post about the Idaho Falls class that is coming up, because of some changes in our personal/professional life, separate from the blog and books, we are actually able now, to offer classes further east than we were previously willing/able to do, in the same cost ranges that we have previously offered them in the West.

I’m still not interested in dragging my family into hostile states. I’m not doing classes in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Maryland (see my Mid-Atlantic comment below), or Massachusetts.

As far as the Mid-Atlantic States (i.e. Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, etc)….Guys, Max Velocity is doing classes regularly at his location. There is just no reason to duplicate efforts there. If you need a combat rifle class, or a small-unit tactics/patrolling type class, I’d suggest talking to him. It’s infantry 101. We may have some minor variations in execution, but the fundamentals are going to be basically the same.

The only classes I would consider going to the Mid-Atlantic to teach are Support and Auxiliary Functions classes (two-day lecture course), and some private enrollment classes–and those only with a significant reason as to why Max won’t suffice for teaching them to your group.

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