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Prison Martial Arts & Gang Indoctrination:

The Criminal Cold War is getting Hotter…

The martial arts have changed, 52 blocks has recently hit the headlines in rap songs, youtube
videos and instructional tapes. Sometimes called Jail House Rock, but claiming a lineage different from
that of the Jail House Rock of the West Coast’s Black Guerrilla Family. The idea of prison based martial
arts is an idea which has inspired both fear & laughter. Fear from those who don’t understand the
implications and laughter from those who over evaluate their own self worth. This article sets the record
straight, as far as the author knows it to be true, and addresses the more important issue in a single
question; Do Criminals Train to Be Criminals..? Yes!!! Here is how…

1. Experience as a Teacher: Theory of Victimization…


2.Informal Learning: If it Works USE it but KEEP IT SIMPLE…
3.Communication & Conditioning: What they do while LOCKED UP…
4.Networking: The need for Gang Affiliation & Sets (cells)…

You may fool yourself all you want & say that you have a right to self-defense (you do) and that
you can beat up an untrained attacker with your “kung-fu” (not the martial art but the literal translation
of skill). However, if you don’t train to fight enemy you face in that moment you are setting yourself for
failure and excuses like your right defend yourself won’t save you.

Let me explain, here in the US we have a right to keep (own) & bear (use) arms (weapons not
just guns) & we also have a right to freedom of speech. A person who is well read and well educated in
communication mediums such as public speaking will exercise that right to freedom of speech better
then someone who lacks that particular “kung-fu.” The same is true of someone who must exercise their
right to self-defense, a skilled marksmen is better prepared to defend themselves with a gun if required
and martial arts (any martial artist) is better prepared to defend themselves in a fight, some more so
then others. The problem occurs when the “rules of the fight” change & against an experienced criminal
and not some young punk trying to be tough, “the rules” are theirs to make.

1.Experience as a Teacher: Theory of Victimization…


One of things I teach students early on is the theory of victimization; the idea that being the
victim takes
psychological toll on the victim and often cause them to associate “might makes right” with “control &
respect” causing the victim to lash out and seek victims of their own to regain the respect and, more
importantly the control, they feel they lost.

As such being a victim of violence causes various psychological problems but most of all, it
teaches the
person that violence is power. Remember your mind is designed to learn through association & the
process occurs such as this; a parent gets drunk and beats their kid over a slight or some arbitrary wrong
all the while offering the mantra “You will learn to respect me.” The child associates the word “respect”
with the emotion of “fear” so that respect becomes fear & the kid then sees that violence is a means to
be
feared (respected). Said child sets off “to earn the respect of his peers” and becomes a bully. As the child
becomes a teenager he wants to be a tough guy and sets off the fight bigger stronger and tougher
people (other bullies) while still bullying the weaker members of society around him. All to prove
himself as a tough guy, add a few brushes with the law and incarceration around like-minded individuals
and the patterns of associations have become habits and habits become routine and routine becomes a
life style…

So then at this point what has experience taught your averaged troubled youth;
 Respect if being feared…
 You need violence; hurting others to be respected…
 If you are strong & violent you are respected…
Add in that the constant experiences at fighting cause one to be associated with others who seek out
violence & others who want to be “tough.” Thus, adding experience at fighting and an informal learning
process of learning by doing. Said association with violence means that many “tough guys” and
“violence fetishists” will read and watch instructional videos on martial arts,
combatives, knife fighting etc. to try out what they learn on those they wish to gain “Respect” from.

This all sets the foundation for Informal Learning;

2. Informal Learning: If it Works USE it but KEEP IT SIMPLE…


As the tougher, tough guys begin to emerge from the pack they take the role of alpha male until
someone beats them and takes their thrown; though among females this is just as common with
troubled youth. As such these Alphas will impart some basic concepts and techniques to their groupies
of not so tough, tough guys to appear knowledgeable and more experienced. This is just a clever way of
posturing by reputation; hoodlum propaganda.
As such more experienced criminal types teach less experienced criminal types, a few basic
techniques and principles. Nothing as formally codified or complex as a martial arts form, basic boxing
techniques, with knees and elbows and maybe even some high school wrestling through into the mix.
The idea of keeping it simple is twofold;
1) It is a lack of knowledge beyond the limits of fundamentals due to lack of resources…
2) Because fundamentals drilled effectively are still effective and can be added to from experience
or training…

Now apply said cliché of tough guys with a higher calling then being just tough; give them easy
money and an illusion of real power (i.e. money) & you have the makings of a gang. These gangs often
recruited members in the past, to extort money and control areas of their locations. With them the
gangs kept members from stealing or harassing others in their neighborhoods but then started
victimizing others from different areas under the control of different gangs. The illegal drug trade caused
many gangs to grow in both size and in power as new weapons and guns became common place. Now
the in the 21st Century gangs have morphed into a more syndicate structure around the smuggling, sale
and distribution of illegal drugs.
As such many gangs still require their members to be beat in to prove their toughness and have
members with clean records to join the military to learn weapons & tactics; making the possibility of
finding gang members training in paramilitary tactics & even Modern Army Combatives or the Marine
Martial Arts Program a good possibility. This is of course my reference to Jail House Rock and 52 blocks
at the beginning of the article; you see it’s a bit of little know American Civil Rights History…
In the 1966 by George Jackson when prisons were integrated a prison gang the Black Guerrilla
Family tried to “take over the prison population” as a means of recruiting members into its Marxist
Revolutionary Organization to over throw the US Government. As such the Black Guerrilla Family
invented a “martial art” known as Jail House Rock; claiming African Roots it was a mix of dirty boxing
and hip hop danced moves (assessed as effective fighting techniques in the way one would find Kata
Bunkai in formal Karate). This served two key purposes; the association of violence with strength
(something common to a troubled childhood) & as a “secret martial art of African heritage” served as
medium for the indoctrination of Marxist Revolutionary Ideas, cloaked on pretty little wrappings of the
civil rights movement.

As such a racist prison gang known as the Aryan Brotherhood was said to have developed a
prison fighting system off of the an older hand-to-hand combatives system called Rock & Roll. Like their
African American counter-parts the Aryan Brotherhood used Rock-&-Roll as a medium of indoctrination
for White-Supremacy. The Aryan Brotherhood was first started to protect whites against blacks in the
prisons of California but also using “their protection” to indoctrinate new members into white-
supremacist beliefs. As such a “prison martial arts” become a sort of paramilitary training to indoctrinate
low level members into believing in a greater confidence in the organization then presented. As such
most street-fighters follow the same game plan; teach some basics and build confidence in followers. As
such everything is simple, direct and effect oriented…

3.Communication & Conditioning: What they do while LOCKED UP…


Do not assume prison or jail is an easy life for many people. In fact, it is downright boring and
have only two things to do; read, play cards and workout. Playing cards or even chess is where the social
politics gets to be worked out and worked on. Here you get how people think and how they apply what
they know. Aside from teaching people to lie (bluff) at cards you also learn to read people, the same is
true of chess.
All that time to work out means that they have time to increase fitness and the more fit you are
the more likely you are to pull off even the most complex & outlandish martial arts techniques. More so,
when images of buffed out repeat felons hit the TV screen in prison documentaries & fat out of shape
“Joe Average” is seen huffing and puffing out of breath from cross the street, it is no wonder the
criminals have an edge. Reading is another one, as ideas and tactics can be draw from books on spies &
commandos from writers like Tom Clancy who tries to make things as realistic and accurate as possible.
Add to that classic works like Sun Tsu’s Art of War & Machiavelli’s The Prince can also be found in prison
libraries. Is it any wonder that prison is called “Crime College” and again referencing the existence of
things like Jail-House-Rock & Rock-&-Roll an experienced criminal may be a bit more confident and
better prepared at committing crimes then say your average accountant, cashier or even martial artist is
at defending themselves against being a victim of crime. After all crime is a criminal’s Job…
More so, if a gang member likes an individual and/or recruits them into their gang these people
may pick up on more than just some dirty boxing or old hand-to-hand combatives material. They may
find connections to get guns, drugs and even human trafficking. They find suppliers and distributors or
resources and connections. Human’s adapt and change and when faced with adversity they find ways to
overcome; especially if they are mentally tough and if not mentally tough they will eventually become
so. This is why many people know that rehabilitation & is chance to change, not incarceration is the
answer to such criminally-minded people.

4.Networking: The need for Gang Affiliation & Sets (cells)…


What we call in the counter-terrorist world as cells are called sets on the street. A gang has
several sets; each acting as independent cells (much like as seem with terrorist groups) and each set
passes on “business” from within the network of gang sets. This keep “business” limited to other gang
members and offer special benefits for joining the gang. Here much of the communication and dealings
that take place in prisons and jail spill over into the streets of America. Likewise other institutions such
as public schools and yes even churches have seen this type of networking by criminals and criminal
groups. With the turn of the century we have even less gang violence because many gangs have learned
that by dividing the area and the “business” they can gain more. As such you may have two or more
gangs in the same area but only gang in that area deals with crack-cocaine while the other deals with
prescription drugs. Thus being affiliated with a specific gang might offer the virtues of getting specific
access to weapons, pain medication or other illegal drugs.
These hybridized-gangs are more focused on profit then politics and more organized, from them
we see groups that are more organized and have take the hap-hazard indoctrination “prison
combatives” to include paramilitary training gathered from members in the US military. Some groups
specialize in only one type of crime and other specialize in several types; more on the same rule is true
of individual sets within the gangs.

So not the answer the question first posed at the beginning of this article; Do Criminals Train to
Be Criminals..? Yes it is a systematic answer based on the type of criminal you may encounter; a self-
trained tough guy, a prison trained felon or paramilitary narco-terrorist gang…

Written by Ron Collins