Skip to main content

Tolling: Offensive Tactics & Self-Protection Advisory by Mark Hatmaker


Let’s talk forgotten dog breeds, American Indian hunting tactics, pick-pocket strategy, the Ali Shuffle and then tie it up with a big pretty bow declaring these are all one of a kind.

First, Dogs.

You’ve herd of retrievers, setters, scent-hounds, herding dogs et cetera.

Now, unless you are a major dog enthusiast, you may have not heard of a toller.

About the only tolling dog officially recognized by organizations that love to recognize such things is the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. They look like small Golden Labs. Gorgeous dogs.

But just as with the words retriever or herder or setter, the word toller originally referred not to a specific breed but to a specific behavior. Then man, being man, bred for sought after behaviors to create stronger and stronger manifestations of the desired behavior in each generation that followed.


We all know what retrievers do, they retrieve, herders herd, but what about tollers? Are they bred for patiently residing in tiny huts monitoring small change revenue?

Nope.

Tolling is a term in animal ethology that refers to a bit of behavior exhibited by social animals that hunt as a pack [in our case, wolves and their genetic offspring dogs.]

Tolling is essentially the opposite of camouflage or mimicry. Where some animals use stealth or precise movement to disguise their presence, tolling as a tactic calls conspicuous attention to the self.

Those of us with high energy dogs, will at times see your dog run circles, leap and cavort, make mock bows and then get right back on the cavorting stick. This is called tolling. And…this high-energy behavior is related to hunting.

Some animals that can’t be approached directly are lulled into a state of curiosity by open displays of unusual behavior. For example, ducks [and bison] have been known to become wary by direct approach but curious about open ground cavorting. Wolves have been observed splitting off one or two tollers to begin the captivating cavorting while the remainder of the pack positions for stealth and cutting off avenues of escape.

Some Indigenous Hunters spotted this tendency and it is the basis of some “dances” that were performed on site of the hunting grounds.

The “civilized” observers [not being as observant as the indigenous hunters] assumed this “needless” expenditure of energy was ceremonial and chalked it up to backward ways or a privileged witnessing of “primitive magic.”

This “magic” was indeed practical and wise and a pragmatic hunting tactic—the “dancers” lull the quarry while others use still-hunting to ambush the curious prey as it approaches to investigate or remains static with attention on the “dance.”

Now, on to pick-pockets.

A good pick-pocket needs stealth, nimble fingers and…careless attention. Pick-pockets like wolves, and dogs in packs, or hunters with their dogs often work as teams.

The pick-pocket is our still-hunter, he is the bit of humanity we are not meant to notice. Rather than hiding inside trash cans and reaching out for pockets, the pick-pocket team will use decoys, mock performances [i.e., “tolling” behavior] to render our pick-pocket “hidden.”

Impromptu street performances, the Three-Card Monte Scam, the sudden outburst of juggling or fire-eating at unscheduled times or in areas not known for performance are often a bit of entertaining larcenous ambuscade.

This does not mean that all street-performers are part of a felonious pack, not at all. Some are, some may simply be performing and the pick-pocket is using the benefit of the performance as a useful tolling incident to take advantage of.

The key lesson here is to raise your awareness when things get unexpectedly interesting.

[I wager in our current zombie world of eyes down entranced by phones we have self-tolled ourselves as easy marks for all manner of dumbness: accidental or larcenous.]

On to combat.

The Ali Shuffle.

Was that a useful bit of pragmatic footwork?

Did it help set a more powerful punch or glide to an easy defensive slide?

Nope.

But..it often tolled like a charm.

The same can be said of Sugar Ray Leonard’s wind-milling lead or rear hand that led to a smack with the other.

These two legendary boxers were tolling with unusual behavior.

Tolling is distinct from feinting which is disguising an attack by providing something that looks like an attack to a different line and following it up with an alternate real attack.

The toll, as we now know, looks nothing like combat. Looks nothing like hunting.

In fact, it looks like a performance, it looks like a street-show, it looks like a playful dog.

For our own use, being aware of tolling allows us to enjoy the street show with a mindful hand on our wallets.

And…

If we are thoughtful and creative perhaps, we can manufacture a few of our own canine-playful ceremonial dances that disguise our intentions and then wallop with maximum aplomb.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Warrior Awareness Drills by Mark Hatmaker

THE Primary Factor in self-protection/self-defense is situational awareness. Keeping in mind that crime is, more often than not, a product of opportunity, if we take steps to reduce opportunity to as close to nil as we can manage we have gone a long way to rendering our physical tactical training needless [that’s a good thing.]
Yes, having defensive tactical skills in the back-pocket is a great ace to carry day-to-day but all the more useful to saving your life or the lives of loved ones is a honed awareness, a ready alertness to what is occurring around you every single day.
Here’s the problem, maintaining such awareness is a Tough job with a capital T as most of our daily lives are safe and mundane [also a good thing] and this very safety allows us to backslide in good awareness practices. Without daily danger-stressors we easily fall into default comfort mode.
A useful practice to return awareness/alertness to the fore is to gamify your awareness, that is, to use a series of specific…

Resistance is Never Futile by Mark Hatmaker

Should you always fight back? Yes. “But what if…”


Over the course of many years teaching survival-based strategies and tactics the above-exchange has taken place more than a few times. The “but what if…” question is usually posed by well-meaning individuals who haven’t quite grasped the seriousness of physical violence. These are people whose own humanity, whose sense of civility is so strong that they are caught vacillating between fight or flight decisions. It is a shame that these good qualities can sometimes stand in the way of grasping the essential facts of just how dire the threat can be.


The “but what if…” is usually followed by any number of justifications or pie-in-the-sky hopeful mitigations. These “but what if…” objections are based on unfounded trust and an incorrect grasp of probability. The first objection, unfounded trust, is usually based on the following scenario.


Predator: Do what I say and I won’t hurt you.


Or, some other such promise to the victim.


Now, these sorts of …

Awareness Drill: The Top-Down Scan by Mark Hatmaker

American Indians, scouts, and indigenous trackers the world over have been observed to survey terrain/territory in the following manner.
A scan of the sky overhead, then towards the horizon, and then finally moving slowly towards the ground.
The reason being that outdoors, what is overhead-the clouds, flying birds, monkeys in trees, the perched jaguar—these overhead conditions change more rapidly than what is at ground level.
It has been observed by sociologists that Western man whether on a hike outdoors or in an urban environment seldom looks up from the ground or above eye-level. [I would wager that today, he seldom looks up from his phone.]
For the next week I suggest, whether indoors or out, we adopt this native tracker habit. As you step into each new environment [or familiar ones for that matter] scan from the top down.
I find that this grounds me in the awareness mindset. For example, I step into my local Wal-Mart [or an unfamiliar box store while travelling] starting at the top, t…