Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Counter-Footchase Techniques

Kent's Imperative (KI) has an interesting discussion on the pros and cons of Gibson's concept of systema, which Gibson uses in a different context to the Russian Martial Art of the same name, as a method of operational tradecraft.

It's not the first time in history that clandestine warriors have used tactical escape techniques. It is thought that the Japanese Ninjas had similar escape methods. H. John Poole lists a few of these techniques in his book "The Tiger's Way". Whilst some of the sources Poole uses are dodgy e.g. Haha Lung, I believe there is merit to his thoughts. Poole synthesizes a number of sources including a list of annotated Ninjitsu techniques that could carry over to modern day soldiers. An example is the techniques listed under "Entering an enemy fortress" which include:

  • Ramparts Crossing (include leaping from tree to tree, and jumping from roof to roof among others)
  • Ramparts Scaling (including rock climbing and stone or brick climbing)
  • Entering an inaccessible structure (including effortlessly moving through a window opening, which is very similar to the philosophy of effortlessness in Parkour)

Poole has a number of other techniques. Whilst many other texts about Ninjitsu concentrate on the rather limited hand-to-hand techniques, Poole concentrates on the abstract concepts behind Ninjitsu. He states
"Ninjitsu is the art of stealth. The term can best be understood by looking at is derivatives. Nin means both concealment or sneaking in, and endurance. Jutsu means technique. Whereas most of the martial arts are about confronting an enemy, ninjitsu is about avoiding him."
Poole goes onto say that Ninjas were the original manueveur warriors, they avoided enemy strengths by slipping through the gaps and striked with precision at enemy weaknesses through methods like assassinations etc.

But I digress from the original topic of counter-footchase techniques as a practical skill ...

Whilst KI mentioned a possible impracticality at the physical level of parkour, because of the physical stresses of the training on the body, I think there is a psychological level in which Gibson's hybrid systema concept, if synthesized with other ideas, could be used.

One area is the evasion of in-country police forces by foot. Police, and domestic security services, may in their duties conduct a foot chase. They will set up cordons to coordinate the chase, and also call in specialist units like Dog squads to track the person of interest. Apart from the obvious physical advantages in the techniques of Parkour, if you were to have knowledge of the way such chases were conducted by the Police you would be able to manipulate the orientation part of their OODA loop by feeding them manipulated information.

One such method is a foot chase study done by a Policing department in North America that is used by Dog Squads around the world and is looked on with authority (at this moment in time my lack of google fu has failed to bring up the study on GoogleScholar, Groups, or Google itself, I'll find it in the next day or two and update this post with the study). The study did a statistical analysis of patterns of offender behaviour during foot chases. For instance if an offender kept on turning left a few times he was more likely to come to a stop and hide, whilst an offender who kept on turning right for a few turns was more likely to keep on running. Such indicators could be used for deceptive measures if you were fleeing from in-country Police as many Dog squads will operate with two tracking dogs and use the indicators as one dog tracks, whilst the other Dog unit will leap frog ahead and use the ideas from the study to cut the offender off. Alternately, Police could even the odds at the physical level and use some of the Parkour methods in their initial training.

On an interesting sidenote, in a time where COIN & Parkour are quite popular in the mainstream media, the art of Parkour evolved from an individual who served in Vietnam during the first Indochina war.


Jay@Soob said...

"For instance if an offender kept on turning left a few times he was more likely to come to a stop and hide, whilst an offender who kept on turning right for a few turns was more likely to keep on running."

That bit's especially interesting. I'd have attributed "handedness" (assuming he who flee's has no destination in mind; most likely don't) to deciding random direction.

I wonder if there's any correlation to the severity of the apparent crime at hand? In other words, the guys that go right are generally running from a more serious offense than those that go left? Or vice versa?