If you haven’t seen JOHN WICK, you really should. Like guns, ultra-violence, martial arts, and revenge?
Go see JOHN WICK.
This clip shows some of the very best fight choreography in Hollywood. You see superior gun-handling, the integration of combatives with pistol use in CQB, knife and pistol together, even the Center-Axis-Relock being used as a CQB movement technique…all kinds of good stuff.
The script is lean and elegant. This is Keanu Reeves’s best action movie since THE MATRIX.
The movie was directed and the fights done by Dave Leitch, a former Minneapolis guy and another alumni of the Old Skool Minnesota Kali Group in the 80s and 90s. I just started going through the digitized footage of the very first “Reality of the Handgun for the Martial Artist” class I did at the Kali Group back in the late 80s or early 90s, and I believe that was the last MKG seminar Dave took before he headed off to H’wood to become the top stunt director and Brad Pitt’s body double and trainer. Now he’s the top producer/director of what is going to be another great trilogy like THE MATRIX. JOHN WICK TWO started filming not long after the opening weekend of JOHN WICK.
Very much worth watching for enthusiasts of well-done violence and gun-critics, LOL. Spare, elegant craft in the screenplay and I really liked the characters of John Wick and the supporting cast.
Especially the 60-something assassin named Marcus, played by the always excellent Willem Dafoe.
Out on pay per view, DVD and even still in some theaters.
I may have to send the JOHNNY WYLDE books to Dave Leitch; as a Minneapolis guy he might just really dig those. Madonna, back when she was married to Guy Ritchie, considered buying NO OTHER OPTION as a project for Ritchie. Nothing ever came of it, but it would have been interested. Willem Dafoe’s name came up then, too, as the actor for Jonny Maxwell.
I’m waiting back on word from a major screenwriter/producer on a decision about THE SWORD OF MICHAEL — more on that as I get it. I may be able to interest him in the film version of ACHY MAN, which is emerging as a black comedy cross between THE THREE STOOGES, THE KEYSTONE COPS (anybody remember them?) and LOCK, STOCK, AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS.
So we’ll see. I’m back in submarine mode before I take up my hectic travel schedule again — thanks to all of you who stop by…pay no attention to the nasty gram sent me by some irate reader…
I have a friend I rarely see. I’m always glad to see him when I do. We sit around and drink coffee, or I sit and drink ginger ale while he sips his Bolton Bourbon, and we compare notes on the fine art and science of growing old gracefully. He has some great insights. But then, he’s had a few more years practice than I.
He prefers to stay anonymous, so I’ll honor that. He’s an inconspicuous older gentleman who bears a striking resemblance to Mr. Rogers from “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.” He has an occasionally annoying habit of humming the lyrics from the theme song of that ancient TV show:
“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day in the neighborhood, won’t you be mine, won’t you be mine…”
I’ll call him OM, for Old Man. He appreciates nuance and enjoys New Age stuff, so he’ll like that.
We were chatting about Accentus-Ludus and the research we’ve been doing into the neuroscience behind making “soft skills” more accessible and faster to learn. He was good enough to tell me a tale, about a gunfight that wasn’t, but might have been, in which the decisive use of soft skills settled a gunfight that almost was.
The Gunfight That Never Was
“There’s a little shop I go to a few times a week, not far from where I live. Run by a Lebanese family. All the men work rotating shifts there, 24/7. So I go in one morning, buy the Sunday paper like I always do. Have a little chat, kibitz a bit, talk about the old days in Beirut. You know, the usual.
“So this guy comes in. Twenty-something. Buff. Strung tight. Body language swaying from side to side…stalks past the cashier’s counter…looks out the side of his eyes…shifts his hand to one side pocket…then stalks from aisle to aisle in the store and heads back to the furthest corner, where he stands and stares at the milk, and shoots a look up at the mirror above his head, so he can see the whole store…
“I fiddle with the change I just received and turn so my back is to the corner where I can see out the door and the rest of the store. My Lebanese friend, no stranger to violence, started eye-tracking this guy through the store. He’s switched on because this guy’s vibe is no good.
“Mr. Just Out Of Jail stalks to the front of the store, to the only place you can stand and see behind the cashier’ counter. He looks, then turns his back and starts rummaging through the pastries. “You don’t got any Little Debbies?” he says.
“Yeah,” my Lebanese friend says. “Right there.” Mr. JOOJ looks out the other side of the store through the opposing door. Two doors in, two doors out.
I take a short walk down the aisle, pick up a bottle of orange juice to go with my paper, come slowly up the aisle back to the counter. Mr. JOOJ stalks past the counter, takes up the position I just left, Little Debbies in his hand. A woman walks in, buys a bag of chips, chats for a second or two, leaves.
Mr. JOOJ just stands there.
I say, “Excuse me, sir? You were here first. You go ahead.” Very pleasantly.
He looks at me, hesitates, gets up to the cashier counter and I have his back. He slides one hand into his side pocket, shoves a Little Debbie in that pocket while he holds the other one up. He pulls some bills out of the pocket he just shoved the donuts in. Nice shoplifting move…not such a big deal.
The little revolver he had in his pocket a concern.
So he pays three dollars for gas, and one pack of Little Debbies. Stalks out the door to his car. My Lebanese friend is showing all the tension of somebody who’s had a brush with someone who was radiating violence. “Not a nice guy,” I observed.
“He stole, didn’t he?” my friend said. “Not worth going after,” I said.
He didn’t get through the Beirut of the 80s by being a pussy. He came out from behind the counter and went to the door and shouted out at the guy. “Hey! You! I got your picture, I got your license plate! You never ever come back here, you understand?”
Mr. JOOJ feigns surprise. “What you talking about?”
“You’re on camera right now! You know what I’m talking about! You steal, you never come back here!”
Now I gotta swear a bit under my breath. I respect the man. He thinks you let somebody steal, pretty soon everybody steals. But now Mr. JOOJ, high on something, probably meth, with a revolver in his pocket, is gonna get pissed and come storming back in here.
So you know there’s no good position in here. No cover, and I already walked through. So I step out the door, past my friend. He’s cussing this guy out. I walk out like I don’t know him, looking back as though surprised. I need to get out where I can move, though there isn’t much cover out there.
My friend has retreated inside behind the counter. So I keep be bopping to the corner of the store. I have cover there, see? I’m old but I can still hit something if I need to. So the bad guy girds himself and stalks back towards the door. No gun in his hand yet.
I button hook back and go around the building to the other door. I stand outside the opposite door where I can see through the window. The guy comes in, and my buddy, now behind the counter and the acrylic partition, with two cameras on the guy, tells the bad guy to put the donuts back and leave. Mr. JOOJ has his hands up, contrite but pissed. Like a guy in the chowline in the jail getting caught. Puts the donuts back on the counter. Walks out, stands next to his car.
I stick my head in the door. “You cool, buddy?” He’s surprised. But glad. “I’m fine, my friend. Thank you.”
“Old men gotta stick together,” I say. And I wait till the bad guy gets in his car and drives away…
So some Old Guy hangs around and watches a bad guy decide not to get caught? So what?
From the perspective of soft skills informing tactical decision making:
OM has, to put it mildly, a significant body of experience in reading bodies, live, dead, violent, non-violent – he’s seen and read them all.
That experience led him to calibrate Mr. JOOJ pretty quickly as being —
• Fresh out of jail
• Under the influence of drugs, probably meth
• Contemplating violence or the threat of violence
• Scoping out the layout of the store
• Positioning himself where he could see and watch everyone in the store stay or leave
• Moving through the store to finalize his knowledge of where the money was
• Taking up a dominant control position between his car and the door, the best place in the store if you’re taking the place
• Starting to wind himself up to shove a gun in the cashier’s face, probably right after he laid the donuts on the counter and the drawer came open.
So HOW did OM know that?
• Experience (general life experience as well as specific experience in violence)
• Genetics (he possesses the “Warrior Gene” in spades, has abnormally fast reflexes even at his age, extraordinary endurance and despite wearing glasses, sees extremely fast due to superior neurological processing)
WHAT did he do?
• He made the decision to stick around as his assessment was that his friend was at risk. He could have called the police and reported a suspicious person – even with a good response time the whole thing would have been over before they got there. And, though he is loath to say so, he has a significant body of experience in fighting up close and personal. So in his judgment, based on his experience and training, he figured it was better for his friend if he stuck around.
• He took the dominant position in the store while he scoped out the situation
• When he saw the bad guy move to the opposite corner and start scoping out the store in the mirror, he knew what was happening.
• When bad guy moved front, he moved back, deeper into the store, but giving himself some concealment (not cover) and about ten yards of distance which maximized his superior marksmanship under stress AND put him behind the bad guy, who would have to twist his head around like a bad exorcism movie in order to watch him.
• When a woman (innocent bystander) enters, he moves up, which puts him within a long step of moving the woman out of the way and an angle from which to engage said baddy.
• In my favorite move, he drops into his polite older gentleman role and invites the bad guy to move ahead of him since, after all he was first. So bad guy can either refuse what is obviously true, or he can move forward and leave his back to the old man, and try his luck on the way out. Sweet move that both defuses, soften OM’s profile to polite old man instead of predatory bad-guy killer, and puts the bad guy on the horns of a dilemma: Refuse to move and draw attention, or move into a bad position with some old man behind him?
• Bad guy goes, but then the owner gets involved too fast for my friend to control him. And, truth be told, he doesn’t really want to control him. It’s his friend’s store, after all. But the owner’s decision escalates potential violence
• He decides he needs a better position in case bad guy breaks bad on the way in and he can gauge bad guys reaction to him, see if he’s made him as an armed good guy who’s looking to light his ass up. No reaction to him, since sweet move #2 is to act (deception, yeah?) as though he doesn’t know the owner and he’s hurrying away so as not to get involved.
• Once clear he can move to the corner of the building where he actually has cover and not just concealment (you do know the difference?) and watch Mr. JOOJ.
• When bad guy enters, instead of crowding up behind him, he cuts around the store and comes up on the blind side at the opposite door where he can see what’s going on and still have cover as well as concealment.
• Bad guy figures it’s not his day to rob this particular store, especially since the owner is back behind the plexiglass and he’s got cameras rolling and maybe the cops too, so he makes apologies, drops the donuts and leaves in a hurry.
No weapons displayed. No shots fired. No bloodshed. Nobody killed.
A word or two about OM: early 60s, combat veteran on the battlefield and on the street, totes a Karl Sokol customized Browning High Power he was issued by an Other Government Agency back in the 70s, with a Smith and Wesson hammerless .38 snub that was OGA issue back in the day, both of them in very well worn Ken Null leather holsters on a Null belt. Soft spoken, extremely intelligent with a Psychology degree from an Ivy League school coupled to a lifetime of experience in the worst places in the world. Book knowledge leavened with street smarts. He doesn’t go around looking for anything to prove, because believe me, he has nothing to prove to anyone.
So that’s his story. No violence happened. Violence avoided. Why?
Because of, for lack of a better term, what’s called “soft skills.” The skills that don’t involve hitting or shooting or cutting.
What kind of soft skills did he use?
Superior vision processing. He maintains a relaxed visual scan of his environment at all times. Fully utilizes his peripheral vision and knows the limit of his focus/discrimination visual zone and his peripheral vision.
Superior pattern recognition. Experience and training leads to recognize certain nexuses of behavior; the little pieces add up. He uses his superior vision processing to run faster pattern recognition thorugh the nexus of experience and training (remember the OODA loop?)
Superior body language acuity: Experience, training, genetics. Adding up things like posture, body movement marking, skin flushing or blanching from studying with people like Paul Ekman, Joe Navarro, or some oddball Welsh-Filipino in Minneapolis. What comes before what is normally taught as pre-violence indicators.
Time distortion/cognitive acceleration: How he utilizes his subjective perception of time and physiologically induced changes to his experience of time.
So how do you cram 40 years of somebody else’s experience into your head?
Train your soft skills like you train your draw stroke or other motor skills. Break it down into the component parts, train them, reintegrate them. Measure how much more efficient your brain is at processing that kind of data.
Rinse and repeat.
And stand by for the next generation of technology and training. Remember in THE MATRIX when Neo and Morpheus go for it, and Neo exclaims, after his accelerated transcranial stimulation download, “I know kung fu!”
We’re almost there….
Accentus-Ludus was invited to Israel to demonstrate and discuss our advanced training methods. Our host was a former member of Shayetet 13, the Israeli Naval Commandos/Navy SEALs. He was involved in the selection, assessment and training of candidates for Shayetet 13. He has an advanced background in Performance Psychology and martial arts. He’d previously trained with Accentus-Ludus CEO Marcus Wynne.
An “open” seminar with select invitees was organized. Among the attendees were instructors from the Israeli Defense Force Counter-Terror Warfare School; Active Combatant IDF military counter-terror operators; former special forces Krav Maga and CQB instructors involved in training military, law enforcement and private security; advanced martial artists and high-ranked martial arts instructors.
Among individual performance-enhancement skill-sets demonstrated and taught were:
• Developing Vision Skills
• Enhancing/Teaching Situational Awareness
• Whole Body Reading for Imminent Violence
• Combat Intuition
• Accelerated Learning for War-Fighter Motor Skills
Participants were impressed and surprised by the speed of learning, and how the new “soft” skills were retained under immediate pressure testing. Of particular interest was the “Combat Intuition” training or, as CEO Marcus Wynne refers to it, “Point Man” skills.
CEO Marcus Wynne, center, using his “Point Man” skills in the 1970s
A private session was organized for the lead instructors from the IDF’s “Pre-Enlistment” Training Program. These instructors teach hand to hand combat, CQB, pistol and rifle marksmanship to all Israelis before their mandatory military service. All the instructors were Israeli special operations personnel. Other attendees were active in Air Marshal operations, close protection, and other special duties.
Accentus-Ludus CEO Marcus Wynne demonstrating a drill to install visual index (Active Combatants/Instructors obscured)
Skills demonstrated and taught during this session included:
• Enhanced Vision Skills
• Enhanced Situational Awareness
• Rapid Scanning for Violence Cues and Concealed Weapon Indicators
• Installation of the Target-Weapon-Eye Sight Index
• Pressure and Stress Testing Concepts
All skills were installed within three iterations and immediately pressure tested with 100% retention and use while under stress. Student response to the accelerated learning and stress inoculation concepts embedded in the training was of particular interest since the participants have substantial recent operational experience.
• The material presented was relevant to their missions.
• They learned far faster than they expected.
• They immediately and successfully tested the new material in pressure scenarios drawn from their expected operational end-use.
• They were able to immediately teach and coach others the material.
• They learned new techniques of instruction.
• Enhancing individual operator performance is one of our missions.
• Enhancing existing proficiency in weapons use, CQB fighting technique and learning new techniques/weapons systems is faster and easier with accelerated learning.
• Developing “soft skills” — enhanced vision, combat intuition, enhanced sensory perception under stress and “how to learn faster” — is just as vital to high-stress missions as the latest weapons or high-tech hardware.
If you want your people to not only survive, but thrive, under pressure, consider our individual performance enhancement programs.
NASA conducted a detailed search for, and evaluation of, training organizations outside aerospace and military aviation that prepared personnel to perform under extreme stress. These organizations included federal, state and local law enforcement; military special operations and military basic training from all services; and government security and intelligence agencies.
An Other Government Agency (involved with intelligence and security) recommended that NASA evaluate Accentus-Ludus CEO Marcus Wynne’s pioneering work in accelerated learning and stress inoculation. NASA’s evaluation included a site visit to observe an accelerated learning/stress inoculation training, a comprehensive review of previous trainings and a survey of Wynne’s methods.
NASA awarded Wynne a sole-source contract to conduct an evaluation of NASA’s two-year long Astronaut Training. The goal was to determine if sufficient psychological hardening was installed during the training flow, and to recommend changes to accelerate training, minimize training time, provide superior psychological hardening, and improve astronaut performance while deployed on space missions.
The consultation involved:
- A detailed paper review of the two-year training flow with a focus on those elements believed to install psychological hardening.
- On-site observation of the initial selection and assessment of Astronaut Candidates before entering the training flow.
- Observation of training elements believed to install psychological hardening and stress management.
- Interviews with potential astronaut trainees; astronaut trainees currently within the two-year training flow; senior astronauts including mission commanders and mission specialists; first line training staff and training administrators; key psychologists, psychiatrists and psychological support staff.
- Generating a detailed written review and recommendations for change.
The report generated was classified Sensitive and details will not be released due to contractual non-disclosure agreements. Portions of it were incorporated in a NASA Technical Document – the first time in NASA history that a non-Ph.D/non-academic’s work was included in an academic review.
Considerations for potential clients considering adopting accelerated learning embedded within stress inoculation training designs:
- Is the organization’s culture prepared to accept significant change to the way they do training?
- Are they prepared to accept a higher level of attrition in selection and assessment?
- Are they prepared to restructure budget and staffing due to a greatly reduced demand on training infrastructure and staff built over the company’s previous history?
Culture is key to success. The organization’s culture, in which the training takes place, must be considered as a design element if successful integration of an accelerated training program is to be implemented. The adopting organization must decide if it is ready or capable of a significant paradigm shift. It cannot be done by the outside contractor. If an organization is unable or unwilling to accept dramatic change to the currently established training methods, it’s best to defer or pass on the investment in accelerated learning and stress inoculation.
When you are ready to have your team perform Better, Faster, and Cheaper than your competitors or opponents, Accentus-Ludus has the training protocol and approach that will help you leap forward.
A great review out today from Bookreporter: http://www.bookreporter.com/reviews/the-sword-of-michael
Tor.com did a fun Q+A here: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/11/the-pop-quiz-at-the-end-of-the-universe-marcus-wynne
And my guest appearance on COAST TO COAST garnered some huge response; the archived three hour discussion is here: http://www.coasttocoastam.com/show/2014/11/04
Signed copies of SWORD OF MICHAEL are only available here, via phone or online: http://www.unclehugo.com/prod/index.shtml
Thanks for reading!
If you follow my neural-based training stuff, you may want to link to http://www.accentusludus.com, the website for the company I run with my amazing business partner Carol Martinson. We are redesigning the website and will be moving ALL archived neural-based material to a blog or article archive on that site; this site, Random Thoughts, will be for writing and, well, Random Thoughts.
There is also a book in progress that compiles most of the neural-based training material into a workbook along with a number of specific training exercises focused on the needs of the combat shooter. While Accentus-Ludus is NOT a tactical training company (we DESIGN training programs, some of which may be tactical in nature) we have a huge amount of material that’s germane to shooting while under stress. This workbook is a short compilation of immediately usable info designed to be taken to the range and used there.
There will be other books and workbooks; this is certainly not meant to be the be-all and end-all on the subject.
We have a number of major irons in the fire; more on that on the http://www.accentusludus.com site when we have it fully set up.
Looks like it’s going to be time for me to put on my traveling shoes again….
I’ve been busy lately with Accentus-Ludus business AND the recent round of promotions for SWORD OF MICHAEL. Link here: http://www.amazon.com/Sword-Michael-Depossessionist-Marcus-Wynne/dp/1476736898/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414689397&sr=8-1&keywords=sword+of+michael
To purchase at an Independent Bookseller near you click here:
To purchase the book at a Barnes and Noble, or barnesandnoble.com click here:
The Kindle and e-book versions are apparently on sale everywhere; the trade paperback won’t be released till 4 November, next Tuesday, but you can pre-order if you like at the above link. I was going to shoot for a “Book Bomb Day” but due to the bizarre timing of the electronic and the paperback release, I’ll just leave that to my readers.
This PR bit has been an interesting journey. I’ve done lots of PR in my time: OPRAH, PRIMETIME, FOX, etc. etc. — for SWORD OF MICHAEL I teamed up again with the amazing Elena Stokes and her team at http://wunderkind-pr.com. If you’re an author, or a publicist involved in publishing, or a publisher, if you don’t have The Goddess Len on your speed dial — you don’t have PR. Thanks, Len!
As my readers know, SWORD OF MICHAEL is a venture into a new (to me) genre: urban fantasy. I had a LOT of fun writing it, and a LOT of fun promoting it. Like I said, I’ve been all over the traditional mass media in news and talk shows, done easily a thousand radio interviews…but this was my first venture into alternative media and especially these very interesting shows and sites that focus on paranormal activity.
I’ll embed some links below, and I have a very interesting interview coming up on the COAST TO COAST radio show http://www.coasttocoastam.com. That will be late night on 4 November, and into the wee morning hours of 5 November. If you’re an insomniac (like me) tune in. Should be interesting.
Here’s a Q+A from Riffle:
I’m the October Pick of the Month at the awesome SF/F bookstore MYSTERIOUS GALAXY:
My good friend and long-time supporter WWE legend Lance Storm has a Twitter contest going on. If you buy SWORD OF MICHAEL and Tweet him a picture of you and the book cover, he’ll follow you on Twitter. @lancestorm
My awesome friend Ms. Kelly of Zombieapocalypse.net (yes, that’s a thing!) has an interview with me here:
I’ve had several wonderful, rambling conversations with Jeff Rense; here’s a video he did with an extract from one of our conversations:
I’ve done several nation-wide radio interviews, and I have one coming up in my home town of Minneapolis, so if you’re on the morning drive listen to me around 7 a.m. tomorrow.
So a big shout out and thank you to all my readers, and all of those who support me with their friendship and shout outs — THANK YOU!
Enjoy the read.