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Chuck Humes' Critical Combative Concepts

Chuck Humes’ ILEETA presentation began auspiciously: with a slide that read “ILEETA 2011” and undulating music that built to crescendo as the letters of the slide morphed from fire to stone and back again.

But Humes kept the attention of the standing-room-only crowd with more than just fancy audio and visuals. His Critical Combative Concepts presentation dealt with basic, if hard, truths.

“Martial arts, when you get right down to it, are about maiming, crippling or killing,” he told the audience. “They just don’t work the same when you water them down.”  

In his view, there are two types of training. First, there’s tactical training, which aims to fulfil its goal with the minimal time and energy required.

Then there’s tacticool training, which aims to look cool while, maybe, attaining its goal and regardless of time and energy. Beware the cool.

In Humes’ book, simplicity reigns the day. This is for obvious and less-than-obvious reasons. He gives the example of martial arts techniques. They are elaborate, choreographing each response to specific attacks. Bottom line: They are complex.

“If you have time to practice martial arts every day like I used to, god bless you. But most cops don’t have that luxury.”  

And even though martial arts are complex, Humes points us to a quote from one of his idols, Bruce Lee: “It’s not daily increase, but daily decrease. Hack away to the essential.”

So even great martial artists eventually attempt to get to the essence of the matter: to the simple concepts that work.

Simplicity is also easy to teach and easy to learn (good for trainers). It eliminates what is unnecessary, and in defensive tactics, this means no unnecessary movements, no distractions, just time-proven concepts that can be adapted to the dynamic world of policing on the fly.

Humes didn’t mention specific techniques, really, beyond eye flicks, elbows and knees. In each case, he provided compelling evidence that these work. “If someone grabs you, flick their eyes. If someone punches you, flick their eyes. If someone kicks you, flick their eyes. Simple.”

If this makes it sound like Humes is stubborn, that’s not at all the case. “I go to classes on defensive tactics every chance I get,” he told the crowd. “If there’s something new and it proves itself to work, you bet I want to be the first to know about it.”

But, he told the crowd, most new things, if they work, aren’t really new. People have been fighting for too long for much to have been overlooked. Trust the concepts that have proven themselves over time.

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