Hock Hochheim Online Interview

MAVR: Mr. Hochheim, can you tell us about your organization?

Hock: Sure. The Scientific Fighting Congress now has three divisions and three specialty courses, but I started about three years ago with only the Congress of American Knife Fighters. It caught on quite well, but there was also demand for empty hand combat and for Arnis training too! From there I stepped back to create a bigger, broader concept I called the Scientific Fighting Congress. So, the initial 10-level Knife Congress course became just one of three major divisions. The other two divisions are the Hand-To-Hand Combat Congress and the Filipino Combat Arnis Congress. People pick what they want.

Then we also have 3 special courses, one called E.A.G.L.E.S (Educating American Guards, Law Enforcement and Security) the DMS (Dos Manos System-two handed CQC stick fighting) and finally we offer Pistol and Shotgun Combatives-taught by Congress members who are police officers around the country. All are currently on SWAT teams.

I think it is a big mistake when you try to lump all this material together and offer one and only system, so I made the separate distinctions. If a guy comes to you and only wants to learn empty hand fighting, why should he spend years stick-fighting? The separation of subjects and courses also allows for intense, focused study in any one topic.

In the end, if a person has rank in all three divisions, then there is an actual overall 10 level S.F. Congress rank, something I call the “Warrior Elite Group.” It is very diverse and difficult, and there are only about 30 people out of the 1500 members that hold these W.E.G. ranks. It is totally optional and achieved by toiling in all the divisions.

When someone joins us, they become a member of the Scientific Fighting Congress, not any one division. Once inside they study anything they want.

MAVR: Congress is kind of a different name...

Hock: In martial arts terms, yes. Its either institute, association, or academy, that type of thing. But in the political world, or citizen groups, the term Congress a common. I like it because we are a collection of many systems and ideas, all connected by our pursuit of the true essence of combat. It also connotes a certain freedom or theme, an acceptance of all races, creeds and colors. I believe strongly about all that too, so I think its perfect.

MAVR: We know that you have quite a background in military police work and law enforcement. How does this affect your perspective on martial arts?

Hock: Going on 26 years now and I spent all those years working as a patrol officer or detective in line ops-that is operations on the line, in the field, on the street-level. No admin jobs. My choice. Since I have recently moved from Texas to Georgia, I am not sure if I will transfer my Private Investigator’s license. We’ll see. But it all has created a...desperation. A desperation in learning and a desperation to teach only life-saving, real world tactics and strategies, supported by a collection of only the best skill-developing drills. " Fighting first, systems second! " is one of our mottos. The experience has given me a certain discerning and defining perspective that takes me out of a martial arts mentality. Still, some martial art training, a certain martial progression and format, MUST be maintained to maximize your survival skills.

MAVR: How long have you been in the martial arts?

Hock: I started in a Ed Parker Kenpo school in Texas in 1973. You could say I was a product of the Billy Jack and Carradine Kung-Fu era. Those shows got me first interested. I enlisted into the Army from Texas and returned there, where I remained a karate and jujitsu guy, never really satisfied with the programs. Meanwhile there were plenty of police tactics and survival fighting courses to go to which were much more real, modern and practical to me, put on by those politically incorrect old-timers, ex-big city cops, ex-feds, ex-secret service back then. All these guys had also studied martial arts but altered them for the realities of the job. These are the guys who left a lasting impression on me. In 1987, some of us fell upon the JKD Concepts world of Inosanto. They called it JKD back then but really it was mostly the Filipino martial arts, Shoot wrestling, some silat and Thai Boxing. It changed my life! I then became totally consumed, and I mean that on a daily basis. The once open mind of Jeet Kune Do has lately closed up horribly into a who's-who civil war I want zero part of. They can have it all. To me Bruce Lee was just an athletic movie star with some good ideas. There were many others evolving the same theories all over the world, but they didn’t star in Enter the Dragon, you know?

I spent time with a bunch of other instructors in all kinds of systems an seminars. I actually started teaching in 1990 when our local JKD instructor, another very talented fellow named Ray Medina, faded out of the scene. I inherited the class we started in Gold’s Gym there in Denton, Texas, just north of Dallas. Without Ray, I continued hosting and training with Paul Vunak, Terry Gibson, Remy Presas, Ernesto Presas and other lesser knowns.

MAVR: What individuals have had the most effect on you as a martial artist?

Hock: In terms of martial arts, well there are a couple, and for different reasons. I have to mention again Ray Medina. Ray was a black belt in karate and Tae Kwon Do, a Vunak PFS instructor and a seminar junkie. One shocking day after he returned from one of his many week-long training sessions in California, Ray slipped off his gi and belt forever. He hauled me around to all kinds of seminars back in the late 1980’s. At first he whipped my ass, then he taught me how to whip his ass. He set me free and taught me how to fight and how to flow. So Ray had a profound and personal effect on me. Profound! In an impersonal way, though I have seen him a dozen times in seminars and have barely spoken a word to him, Dan Inosanto is responsible for this overall movement and revolution in this country. Dan “begot” so many of these guys, who begot and begot and so on...So in a way Inosanto has had quite an effect on me and he doesn’t even know or care who I am! Dan begot the late Terry Gibson of Tulsa, Ok and I spent a lot of time teaching me the all Concepts systems. He took me to yet another level, but I soon ran afoul of those guys because I continued to train 'outside the JKD family" by going overseas, working with so-called "original JKD guys" and basically not kissing the floor of the altar some call "Guro Dan". We all know Dan himself wants no such altar, but a few of his down-line people around the country can drive you crazy. If you get a chance to see Inosanto go for it. He is a great guy with an truly incredible collection of history and systems.

But there can be no doubt that Ernesto Presas, with whom I have studied with in several trips to the Philippines and the U.S. has had the biggest impact. His diverse, hard-core approach to Filipino combat, void of all frills, answered all my questions for me, establishing a mindset, a certain training priority that I am still building upon today.

Then his brother Remy has taught me a lot and advised me. He just about ordered me to start the Congress years ago when I first spoke of the idea. "You must do this!" He was the first Filipino stylist who emphasized to me how important two-handed stick grappling is, with which I later weaved with military pugil stick, police night stick and riot baton into the DMS system. I love Remy like an uncle. He is a pioneer, one of the very first, along with Dan and Leo Gaje, who toured the country spreading the word years ago.

MAVR: What other contemporary martial artists do you admire or look to for inspiration?

Hock: On one hand that is a tough one because I am going in a different direction than the martial arts. I don’t even consider myself much of a martial artist anymore, no more than a police survival trainer or a Marine D.I. would call themselves a martial artist. I am going some place else, you know? I still to this day remember things my Drill Sgt. Macaskill yelled at me in Army Basic. Those D.I.s were all Korean and Vietnam vets back then. Even some WW II vets popped up to teach on occasion. Their mission had a certain personal impressiveness that is lacking today and is lacking in the martial arts. Read "About Face" by Colonel David Hackworth (U.S. Army, ret.) Now THERE is a physical and intellectual warrior and an inspiration! These Hackworth-types are my real heroes, real inspirations...not movie stars. On the other hand there are many great martial folks out there. Oh there are some GREAT guys out there, guys like Burton Richardson, Joe Lansdale, Roger Machado, John Pelligreni...I can’t name them all, hundreds worthy of anyone’s respect and admiration. Don’t make me get started making that list!

MAVR: Your courses appear to have a strong influence from the Filipino arts. Would you agree?

Hock: My base, my foundation, is truly the Presas Family style, and really Japanese Aiki Jujitsu, because both have so much, but I will never try to pass myself off as some kind of super Filipino or Japanese martial star. I do teach a very militant Filipino Combat Arnis course because I have students that want this help or rank. I think I can help some of the other Filipino practitioners, especially those who are largely seminar-trained, with my organization of, and understanding of, the material. I have received many compliments from experts on how I have organized the diverse material of Kali/Arnis/Escrima into a digestible progression, while filtering out the dance and the flash. It is a "best of the best" Filipino combat collection. It is no coincidence that a lot of it looks like Presas style, because...Presas style passes that "best-of-the-best" requirement! I can also award authentic rank if they qualify, something many modern Kali systems seem to get lost in doing. The Filipino skill-developing drills they offer are some of my favorites but you have to take care not to become a drill-expert instead of a fighting expert-this is my major complaint with kali instruction today.

I will tell you that I have come to detest the overcomplicated drills and the prissy, "dancy", Filipino techniques I sometimes see. Flow is one thing. Prissy is something else. Priss causes a cancer that can get you and everybody you teach...killed. I do not teach any kind of Aiki-Jitsu because how I teach is so modern it would never satisfy the old-timers. I just use the material inside the other courses.

My knife program comes from many diverse sources and research, only some of which are Filipino. The Hand-To-Hand Combat Course is also made up of many parts. When you start exploring the true essence of hand, stick and knife combat, the truth-which can be found in many good systems-all starts looking the same. Is that Filipino? Sometimes....yes, sometimes no.

MAVR: What is your opinion on the grappling craze that has seized the martial arts community in recent years?

Hock: Ok, are you ready for a profound observation? We know that the stand-up fighters were shocked by the UFC years ago. Thus the "craze". The succinct point that they missed was how ANYONE who broke the "tennis-match", back-and-forth rhythm of kick-boxing, could crash into them and take them down. They saw this crash and blindly attached it to a system of submission wrestling. They did not have to become college wrestlers! They now pursue the floor game as blindly as they once pursued the stand-up game. But at least they are two steps closer to the truth than before, huh? But you know if they are doing it all for the exercise and the fun and the sport I am very happy for them. But if they think they are learning some kind of ultimate and undefeatable self defense...well, they are fools.

What I find criminal is the new trend to teach police officers, all carrying pistols, knives, mace, batons, etc. to become...college wrestlers! I have been shown photos from these cop classes and there is one of a uniformed police officer (brainwashed into PURPOSELY getting into the guard and mount positions of course) leaving his pistol totally undefended. In the photos the bad guy on the bottom is resting his hand on the unprotected handle of the pistol., while the officer is seeking an armbar. If you are a cop and you’re down with a real hostile you’d better be "spitting nails" and cheating like hell. Screw a bunch of college wrestling. And really, can’t the same be said for citizens in the same predicaments? So many are legally carrying guns now! But the food chain is evolving. Now, what I call "horizontal kick-boxers" are competing in these fights all over the world, spreading a more violent and real ground fighting.

MAVR: And they are closer to what truth?

Hock: The truth is diversity, versatility. Preparedness. You simply fight where you have to fight. Learn it all, but don’t become any one thing! Don’t capture yourself as a ground fighter or a kick boxer. Be the bastard ! Study to learn how to defeat these things, not to become them. Be free! And then most importantly on top of that, cheat! It is a cop thing. A soldier thing. I never show a ground fighting technique without some nasty, cheating trick attached with it.

MAVR: So you teach ground fighting and grappling in your Congress?

Hock: Absolutely. Hand-to-hand, stick, knife and gun-threat practice must include stand-up throws, takedowns and ground fighting. Even a working comprehension of locking. And we cheat like hell in every part too. Remember, we are practicing to beat bad guys and enemy soldiers. Sometimes we take them prisoner. Sometimes we kill them.

MAVR: In your Congress programs, do you address the psychological/mental components of street fighting such as pain tolerance, adrenaline dump, etc.?

Hock: Constantly.

MAVR: Are modern programs such as yours against doing katas, the forms of the martial arts?

Hock: People often tell me they disagree with me and say that kata is good. They misunderstand my position. I am not at all against kata. I am specifically against stupid moves. If you are doing thousands of unsafe repetitions in the form of kata then you are damaging your muscle memory-your last, best defense in the chaos of a combat. If you are doing thousands of safe repetitions in some kind of kata format...I think that’s great. Our Congress program insists on a three step approach. Solo training for flow and muscle memory. Power training-hitting a bag (hand, stick and knife) to experience and develop power. Then partner training”in drills and combat scenarios-working with another human being. Those three TOGETHER maximiz e productive development. But we do not do any katas.

MAVR: What do yo u think of these new modern military courses advertising out there?

Hock: The comic book advertising...man! Are people really that stupid? The latest trash is so me guy who viewed secret "cop tapes" and is out showing the world. Secret hit men are after him or some crap. Are people that stupid? If you want the scoop on these Navy SEAL trainers and so forth call the SEALS or look up their webpages and ask them. You’ll find the truth. Better you hear it from them than me. The thing I have found is that most of the western military combatives courses show only the combat scenarios. Some really belittle and dismiss the martial arts. But in doing so, they fail to instill a blend of flow, strength, sensitivity, coordination and skill by using the best of martial art drills. In trying to sound modern and tough, they have "thrown the baby out the window with the bath water!" Fighters NEED the martial arts as one source from which to study and grow. The biggest difference between me and them is, while I too prioritize combat scenarios, I also support the techniques with drills as a secondary building block. Hell, even football teams require drills. Remember the Congress "bridges the gap". These cats destroy the bridge and worse-they bend over and moon the other side! And I don’t like that one bit!

MAVR: Your program and you have been around for almost three years now and already you seem to be well known and in great demand around the country. Why do you think this is?

Hock: Everything is relative. Compared to the Rolling Stones, I am not in great demand. Compared to Vanilla Ice...Hey, I am in BIG demand. But seriously, as of the summer of 1999, we have almost 1500 Congress members and I travel from coast-to-coast. 28 seminars in 1999. We have some 40 instructors and class organizers. We have members in Australia, Canada, Mexico, England and more. I am going to Australia this December. Our mailing list of seminar attendees, book and tape buyers has several thousand names. But to sum it up as to why?

I believe all of my material is very strong, very real and I have some real world experience behind it. Plus I am constantly learning and evaluating new material. We did not get where we are today as
a human race by stopping where the last guy stopped behind us. We MUST evolve. The police and military, hell, medicine, science and technology are constantly coming up with new ideas. I am very affordable. The certifications and instructorships are achievable. I am non-political. I do not care who else you train with. You need to know it all and you need to know it all now! Then I have some very well-received books as well as tapes. The books are sold in bookstores around the country, and that helps. The biggest overseas market for my Knife Encyclopedia is...The Philippines! (You see the grass is always greener!)

My mission statement is "bridging the gap" and as a result, I wind up as welcome at a gun range, or a police department, as I am at Tae Kwon Do school. It also helps that I am completely dedicated
to get out and travel and spread the word. If the word is good, then we do good. It is all about the material, not me. The material! Then we grow. ALL these things create the momentum, this..."demand" you mentioned.

But more importantly, I think I have defined a very unique and vital mission that only a rare few can teach- bridging the gap between the military, the martial artist, the police and the aware citizenry.I have years of connections, experience and research in all those areas. In the end I want to do for others what Ray Medina did for me, what my Army Drill Sergeants did for me, what some of my police instructors did for me. It is far more important than just winning some wrestling match or some gloved kick-punch bout. This is life and death, man!

MAVR: What are your current and future plans for the S.F. Congress?

HOCK: Be. Do. Create. Move. Progress. Prosper. Evolve. Grow. Ensure. Shape. Make. Become. Influence. Mold. Develop. Inspire. Educate. Deliver. Improve.

MAVR: Thank you.

Hock: ...and thank you!

W Hock Hochheim can be reached at P.O. Box 601, Keller, TX 76244 817-581-4021. www.hockscqc.com Now has the Training Mission Series. The Knife Encyclopedia has been absorbed into this series. He's up to level 4 on the book and level 7 on the dvd sets.

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