Dear Brendan,

Let’s step back and take a moment to think about our previous conversations and letters.  Please take the time to review past letters and hit pause for a minute and let it all sink in.  Remember when we first started I mentioned the importance of the following:  Commitment, Training, Communication and Leadership.  You will want to keep those four cornerstones in mind.  Now let’s continue to move forward smartly as a team. 

Okay you will notice I titled this letter, Stand Ready.  I so titled it for a very specific reason.  I’m going to touch on how you “stand” (commitment) and not only the physical but also the mental part of being “ready” (training).  Let’s stand tall and move with a purpose.  Let’s be clear, as I know we all crave clarity.  We are standing tall and moving with a purpose for Freedom & Family.  This all takes true commitment, real world training, communication and leadership.  I’m sure you have seen the news reports concerning ISIS in Paris, Syria, Iraq and AQIM in Mali. The list of threats from non-state actors and nation state actors is longer today than ever before.  This includes local criminal networks, violent extremist organizations, drug trafficking organizations, and other criminal actors.  I’m sure you are aware and are noticing some trends along with the growing tension in local law enforcement organizations within various segments of our society.  With this said it’s no wonder why crime is on the rise across our country and around the world.  These are all real world examples of just how blurred the lines are and how many shades of grey there are in the world.  The water is muddy and things have become twisted into a very dangerous environment.  We live in some very unstable, fluid and dynamic times.  We must be mentally and physically prepared to win the fight for all that we love and hold dear in life.  We few are the protectors.  Whatever you have to do, just find an excuse to WIN!  This all starts with the right mindset that translates over to self-offense.  I will cover down on this in my follow-on letter to you that will focus more on self-offense and mindset.

However, first I will cover down on what I mean when I say, Stand Ready.  I’m literally talking about how you stand.  This could be from standing and walking around the mall with your wife and children, the grocery store, the bank, the office, a restaurant, a parking lot, or any street corner in America or around the world.  Now this is starting to get to the core of what I mean by standing ready to protect/defend yourself, family and all that you love in this life.  Now with all that said let’s get to it.

Let me start by framing this and putting it into some context.  In the Law Enforcement community this is referred to as the field interview stance.  However I’m taking this to another level.  I’m simply referring to this in such a manner to help establish a basic universal understanding to build upon and move forward with.  Like with most things in life, take what is useful and reject what is useless.  The take away here is just how important your physical and mental stance is.  Your stance should be structurally sound, balanced, and similar to your fighting and shooting stance/posture.  This should be done in a manner that does not alert the threat/target/criminal that you are always prepared to respond to any type of aggression/violence, if and when a physical attack occurs.

Here are three things you need to keep in mind.

1.)    Keep your rear heal slightly off the ground

2.)    Keep your chin down

3.)    Keep your hands/arms positioned to quickly come up to protect your face/head

*Remember we talked about the body’s natural response to flinch and how to use this natural reaction to protect/defend and yourself.

Key fundamentals for how you stand/your stance:

·       Feet should be shoulder width apart to maintain a solid base/balance. 

·       Feet should be pointed more or less straight ahead as possible as if you were positioning yourself to sprint 50-yards. 

·       Knees should be slightly bent to lower your center of gravity, and to reduce muscular tension, so you can move quickly if and when necessary.  (Remember, locked knees and stiff legs are “dead legs”, and not useful to you in a fight/combat).

·       Hips should be tucked slightly forward, so that you can maintain muscular tension in your abdominal muscles, which are critical for generating forward explosive power.  This will also enable you to maintain a fairly straight virtual axis, i.e. the line running from your head through your spine and hips into the ground.  The more you arch your back the further up your body your center of gravity moves, once again compromising your balance and base.

·       Torso and shoulders should be more of less straight ahead or squared up on the threat/target/High Value Individual (HVI), even if you are standing off on one of their outside lines (areas outside the vertical panes of the shoulders).  This does a number of very important things.  1st it keeps your centerline on target, i.e. the threat/target/HVI.  2nd it puts you in the ideal position to make 100% use of all your primary (personal) weapons, both lead and rear.  (The traditional bladed stance takes power away from your lead primary weapons and interferes with range on the rear weapons).  3rd it projects the strongest and most secure part of your body armor at the threat/target/HVI.  The traditional bladed stance projects the weakest part of your body armor for operators/officers at the threat/target/HVI.

·       Shoulders should be relaxed.  Muscular tension in your shoulders will greatly inhibit upper body power and speed.  It will tire you out very quickly as well.

·       Elbows should be tucked down towards your sides to the greatest extent possible without being forced, in order to protect the ribs/body.

·       Hands should be somewhere on the “inside line” (area between the vertical planes of the shoulders), above the belt-line and below the chin.  Your hand position is going to be dependent upon your activity and your personal comfort.  The most important thing is that your hands somehow fill the centerline and be ready to cover/counterattack. 

·       Head straight ahead.  If possible don’t raise your chin too much, so that you are looking up.  If it turns into a standup striking confrontation, you will want to drop your chin and project the frontal plate, or forehead to prevent being knocked out from an uppercut or strike to the chin.  If it turns into a clinch, or grappling confrontation, the head may have to be up.  NEVER LET A THREAT/TARGET/HVI GRAB YOUR HEAD OR PULL IT DOWN, because the body will go/follow your head.

A few important details from a situational awareness standpoint is to note/key off the following:  Which hand/wrist does he wear a watch?  Left or Right?  Which pocket does he have a folding knife clipped inside?  Left or Right?  Which foot does he have forward?  Left or Right? 

These simple things will normally tell you if he is right or left-handed or an orthodox or southpaw fighter.  This will help you better position yourself outside his lead foot and to his backside.  From here you can end the fight quicker and safer.   

Now let’s build off this and end the fight.  Here are a few acronyms that will help you remember all this and apply it.  The first is SCOPE, which stands for Simplicity, Control, Offense, Power & Effectiveness. 

Each of these principles is as important as the others.  Take one away and you’ll have a hole in your combative skills.

One principle I feel needs to be emphasized is Power. *(This goes back to the letter on the stronger man always wins) No matter how fast or aggressive you are, if you do not possess power in your execution of technique, you’re going to fail in stopping your attacker/threat. Executing simple, effective techniques will all be in vain unless there is a substantial amount of power behind those techniques. Combative experts have said the first thing to do in a violent encounter is to “take away the intention.” Hit/strike them hard enough, and they’ll completely forget why they’re even there in the first place. The following are five key principles of power that have been developed based on decades of study in combative arts. I use these whenever I teach a technique. Follow these and make your first strike the last.

SWAMP is an acronym for these five principles of power development (SCOPE).

S – Stay relaxed
W – Weapon first
A – Acceleration
M – Move in the direction of the strike
P – Plunge your body weight into the technique. 

Stay relaxed. Of all of the power principles this is probably the hardest to develop. I’m not advocating to stay relaxed when someone is all over you trying to end your breathing habits. It is learning to use your body at maximum proficiency. Staying relaxed is essential for your body to move swiftly and economically. Explosive movement doesn’t come from stiff, tense muscles. You need to stay loose. The key word here is concentration. Concentrate on being relaxed before you explode into the technique. You’ll find your movements to be much more dynamic. 

Weapon first. This is another one of those hard to develop techniques/skills. We want to throw the weapon first so to not telegraph our intentions. Let him feel the technique before he sees it. This is most important when executing a pre-emptive strike, which should be 100% of the time if possible.  Following this principle as often as possible will make your technique delivery much faster and more powerful.

Acceleration. Acceleration is simply speed. Once you move, do so as fast as you can and don’t stop until it’s over. This is most important on that initial strike. Here we go back to the first principle of staying relaxed. Tense muscles move slower. Stay relaxed and throw that strike as fast as possible and the results will speak for themselves. When you throw a technique, throw it fast. Accelerate, and keep accelerating until it’s over.

Move in the direction of the strike.  Simply put it’s moving your body in the direction of the

target to get your body weight behind your strike.

Plunge your body weight into the technique. In order to do this you must be applying two other principles: Moving the weapon first and moving in the direction of the strike. If you’re not moving the weapon first your body is going to move and set before the strike lands and results in your weight settling before the weapon strikes. No mass, no power. If you’re not moving in the direction of the strike there is no mass there to plunge. Plunging means throwing all of your body weight directly into the strike before your mass settles. 

Each of these principles supports the other. Take one away and you’ll have a dramatic loss in explosive power. This is especially important in non-telegraphing, pre-emptive strikes. Many have a tendency to want to wind a technique up to get as much power as possible. That’s good! But if you’re telegraphing your initial strike, all the power in the world isn’t going to help when you’re on your back seeing stars. The key in pre-emptive action is delivering explosive power when your opponent is not expecting it. The only way to do that is to follow the SWAMP principles.

As a trainer/instructor/mentor/coach we want to repeat these principles prior to each power development session. We let them sink in so that our teammate/student/client can manage his own training. We then want to watch for missing principles. Is our teammate/student/client’s weight landing after the strike hits, or is it landing before the strike? Is he turning his body into the strike, is he stationary, or is he moving away? Are both of his legs moving with his body, or is he leaving his leg lagging behind? Is he loose and moving smoothly, or is he tense and choppy?  Remember smooth is fast and fast is smooth.  We often refer to this as the combat glide.  I want to see if my team mates weapon is moving first, or is his hip, leg, arm, torso, etc. moving first?  I want to make sure I show him what he was doing wrong before I show him how to do it right. Unless he sees his mistake, he will think he is doing it right. Watch, detect, analyze, and correct. Hit ’em first, hit ’em fast, and hit ’em hard. 

Webster defines swamp as “overwhelm.” This is exactly what we want to do. SWAMP our enemies and those that threaten to harm us and our loved ones.  It’s important to note that we few fight with love in our hearts, while our enemies/evil fights with hate inside them. 

“Somewhere out there right now someone is preparing for the day you both shall meet. How prepared will you be?”

Talent alone won’t make you a success. Neither will being in the right place at the right time, unless you are ready. The most important question is: ‘Are you ready?’

Prepare to win the fight.