After Action Report: Introduction To Basic Knife Defense

After Action Report: Introduction to Basic Knife Defense

I signed up for an “Intro to Knife Defense” class with Step by Step Gun Training, taught by Paul Rosales and his two assistant instructors, all of which have an extensive background in Escrima, Muy Thai and a bunch of other martial arts I know nothing about.

I walked into the classroom with my usual open mind about what I was going to be taught, but I will confess that in the background, I kinda had a “Yeah, how good could this REALLY be?” attitude.

Boy, was I wrong. Although the class was only three hours long, I learned A LOT about staying un-stabbed in a knife fight, and what I learned fit perfectly with both ECQC and what I’ve learned about concealed carry.

Which shouldn’t surprise me, because Paul created this class as a way to bring the worlds of civilian civilian concealed carry and the world of knife-fighting together. The point of the class wasn’t to turn us into world-class cutlery wielders, the point of the class was to give us a basic knowledge of how knife attacks happen and what we can do to get out of a bad situation as quickly as we can.

And it did just that. The class was tremendously informative and left me wanting more. As I’ve written before, martial artists tend to see ever problem in terms of a punch or kick solution and gun people tend to see BANG as the solution to every situation. This class integrated the two, and it works nicely as the bridge between the ground work and grappling of ECQC and the quick draw and retention work of concealed carry.

 

A few notes from class:

  • Civilians tend to keep both a knife and their gun on their right side, which is not the optimal location for a self-defense blade. I wonder if that’s because we see it as a utilitarian tool more than we do as  a weapon. 
  • There are the knives you use to open up a package, and the knives you use to open up a person. Don’t confuse the two.
  • Never bring a gun to a knife fight. The reverse is also true.
  • Quick movement to the knife side in a fight opens up more space than movement back or to the left, which is also consistent with firearms teaching about getting off the X. Go figure.
  • Rapidly deploying a folding knife in a fight is theoretical at best. Go with a centerline fixed blade.
  • More than that, set up your blade so you can draw and strike in one smooth motion. I carry a centerline blade (an SOG Mini Instinct) but the handle on it faces left. Not no more. I turned it around this weekend so I can grab it with either the left or the right hand and slash upwards on the draw, giving me a chance to either gain space or go on the attack.

All in all, it was a highly informative three hours that gave me a good basis for both keeping safe outside of the home and integrating the other means of self-protection that I carry on a daily basis. Really looking forward to what Paul and his team have in store for further training.

You Never Were Safe To Begin With.

You Never Were Safe To Begin With.

I can sort of understand the concept of safety as a feeling. While it’s true that safety is a reality that has nothing to do with how you feel, the fact is, it’s up to us to become aware of that reality.  Either you are safe, or you are not, your emotions have nothing to do with it. Granted, there are degrees of safety. My famly is pretty secure from a home invasion or a hurricane, but if a meteor hits the Gulf of Mexico, we’ll be turned into instant flotsam and/or jetsam.

Strangely, that possibility does not keep me up at night. Go figure.

Tom Gresham posted this on Twitter awhile ago, and while the sentiment is good, the execution is often weak.

“Every possible self defense scenario” is a little… vague. I probably won’t have to defend against shuriken-throwing ninjas any time soon, but dealing with a road rage incident that spirals out of control too quickly to escalate it?

Maybe.

Staying safe is not just self defense, though. I’ve seen many, many car accidents and a fair amount of car fires, that’s why I carry a go-bag with me in my car and a fire extinguisher in my trunk. I’ve lost track of how many situations I’ve been in where a bright, powerful light was more handy than the sidearm on my hip. I lock my door right after me as I enter my house. I have a tourniquet on me when I leave my house. When I get out of my car in a parking lot, I look around before walking to my destination. My cell phone is rarely below 50% charge, and there’s usually at least a half a tank of gas in my car at all times. These are simple things that each have their own plan and are not gun-centric. What they do, though, is get everyone thinking about what to when things go bad, and that’s the pathway that leads to an armed, responsible citizenry.

Flash Site Pictures – Monday Edition

Flash Site Pictures – Monday Edition

Went on a family trip up to Orlando for my birthday over the weekend, so here’s some content I queued up for you all. Some of it written by me, so not.

An evidence-based approach to knife defence. I’m not the most-qualified guy to comment on this, but I found it interesting.

First Look: Savage B22 FLH. Really liked this little rifle. It’s a keeper.

A quick flow chart to help you stop bleeding.

Some really good advice on pocket pistols. When in doubt, go with a Failure To Stop Drill.

Five Skill Drills For The Indoor Range, because not everybody has access to a pistol bay.

Comparing an A Class vs C Class run on the same stage. I’m sucky and I know it.

Whose Lifestyle Is It Anyways?

Whose Lifestyle Is It Anyways?

Claude’s comments on Ballistic Radio this month hit me really hard. The firearms training industry is in a Catch-22 right now: People flock to trainers who flaunt their high-level military creds because such people have trust icons galore, and at the same time, having a firearms background that is pretty much all M4, all the time is bloody useless for we armed citizens.

This is one of the areas where a background in executive protection can come in handy. While how they protect people may vary from how we armed citizens protect our loved ones, the people who stand around with radio headsets know how to remain discreet while heavily armed, and they have a long history of problem-solving with command tone, soft hands and if necessary, a pistol.

Which sounds pretty much identical to what we normies need to know. We need to think more like Frank Horrigan, and less like Gunny Highway.

Pointy Stabby

Pointy Stabby

I honestly don’t know how people live their everyday lives without having a flashlight and a blade within arm’s reach at all times. How they open up packaging or navigate a darkened parking lot or perform any one of a hundred daily tasks where a portable source of light and a sharp pointy object might come in handy. Yes, there is the current insanity of “weapons free zones” to deal with, but my experience has shown that if you can make a reasonable case that your pointy object is a tool you need to perform your daily tasks, (this is one of my favorites for such purposes), you can have a blade near you at all times.

After poking around and trying out a bunch of knives, I have three which I carry on a regular basis:

Top: A Columbia River Knive and Tool Pazoda 2. I love this little knife for low-profile carry because only the clip shows when I carry it. This is REALLY important in such cases because the last thing you want is someone to fixate on a knife if you’ve also carrying something more… robust on you. Another reason why I like it is because it takes up hardly any room in my pocket, and that matters a lot when you’re trying to squeeze the armed lifestyle into business casual.

Middle: A Boker AK74. I’m blessed to live in a state that allows we plebeians to carry auto-opening knives, so this is what I carry. I also have a Kershaw with the Emerson quick opener on it for the times when I journey outside of the state, but I really like the assured opening of a spring-loaded blade versus relying on a draw to open my knife. Another thing I like this one in particular is once again, only the clip shows when I carry it in my pocket. It’s not as big of a deal with this knife as it is with the Pazoda, because this knife is part of my more-casual everyday carry and my cover garment usually covers my pockets as well as my gun, but it’s still possible to see the clip peek out as I move about through life, and the less noticeable my knife is, the better I like it.

Bottom: An SOG Mini-Instinct. As mentioned before, one of my big takeaways from ECQC was the utility of a fixed blade worn someplace on the centerline for when things get up close and personal, so that’s why this blade rides on my belt just to the left of the belt buckle. This one is for emergency use only: The Boker is the one that I use if there’s cheesecake to be had, and I save this knife for that other reason…

Other than that, I use this little Boker for those times when I really, really don’t want someone to know I have a knife, and that’s about it. They’re maybe not the most expensive knives out there, but they are certainly up to the tasks I need them to perform.

Words Are Weapons

Words Are Weapons

sharpen the knives
makes you wonder how the other half dies

One of the big takeaways from ECQC for me was the utility of verbal agility. There were several evos when the defender was literally stopped in his tracks by what the attacker said, and one memorable time when a verbal confrontation wound up in a textbook Mountain Goat drill, both of them literally butting heads, jockeying for position.

This is not what I would call an optimum resolution of the situation.

So now I’m looking for classes or courses for we armed citizens in how to defuse a hostile situation with what we say, rather than what we carry on our belt. I’ve got the gun solution pretty well covered, and I’m working on the fist solution, now it’s time to work on the lips solution.

After-Action Report: Extreme Close Quarters Concepts With Craig Douglas

After-Action Report: Extreme Close Quarters Concepts with Craig Douglas

This scene in “From Russia, With Love” has always been one of my favourite movie fight sequences. Not a lot flashy technique and technical skills; just two well-trained and athletic men fighting inside a confined space, both trying earnestly and sincerely to beat the other guy to death with whatever is at hand.

I’ve always loved that scene because it felt REAL (and it was… there was only one shot that used stunt doubles: The rest was Sean Connery and Robert Shaw going at it themselves). The editing on it was also sheer genius: Lots of lingering shots of two guys struggling, then a quick cut as positions reversed, then more long shots as they fought for position, then a jump cut or two and WHOA, it’s over and one person is left on his feet and alive.

Which is pretty much what ECQC was like. Taking part in the grappling and disarms and watching the 1-on-1 and 2-on-1 evos (my lower back informed the rest of me on Saturday afternoon that I would not be taking part in the really rough stuff) imprinted on me just how things can go from okay to really, really bad in literally the blink of an eye.

Even though I didn’t get the full experience and engage in the competitive hugging elements, it was still a tremendously valuable class for a number of reasons.

  1. It’s the natural compliment to most firearms training programs, which tend to emphasize accurate fire at around 7-10 yards. The experience of Tom Givens’ students and the video evidence provided to us by Active Self Protection (among others) tells us that if we civilians need to use lethal force, it will be probably be across the length of a car or a similar distance. Note that word: Probably. This is the class to take for when that “probably” doesn’t happen and you have to deal with someone who’s within bad breath distance and very much wants to end your life. A gun class is a good idea and everyone should take them, but what happens inside an ECQC class is probably the ultimate refutation of the idea that a gun as a household talisman against evil. If you’re thinking that owning and carrying a gun is the answer to your self-defense needs, ECQC will disabuse of that notion in some rather unpleasant ways…
  2. We like to think if we have a lethal force encounter, it’ll be with a mugger in a parking lot who’s going to jump out from behind a car wearing a ski mask and say “GIMMEALLYOURMONEYNOW!”. The harsh reality is, though, that you and I have an excellent chance of having to shoot someone we already know. We tend to let friends and relatives into our personal space more than we let in strangers, so if you need to use lethal force against a friend or relative, chances are, it’s going to be at 7 inches distance, not 7 yards, and that’s where ECQC happens.
  3. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1.
    One of things mentioned over and over again in the class is that having good communication skills and some “go to” phrases to help calm things down was as important as having a good trigger press or good ju-jitsu skills. I saw this happen in-class during the two-on-one drills, where one attacker’s initial angry challenge to the defender, (which referenced the defender, oral sex and the attacker’s brother), flummoxed the defender to the point where he was unable to respond intelligently and de-escalate things before things turned into a fight, a fight that the defender ended up losing. That really showed how important is it to know how to remove hostility and anger with your words so someone doesn’t try to remove your spleen with a knife.
    Speaking of which…
  4. Boy howdy, is an easily-accessible fixed blade ever useful in a close-quarters struggle. The most common occurrence when a gun came out in a clinch was a disarm and a gun lying on the ground. Other than that, we’d see a gun come out and a couple of shots might hit the opponent, but a few shots would also go into the crowd or who knows where.
    Whoops.
    Lastly, someone would get their gun out but have it taken away from them and then used on them by their opponent, ending the fight in their opponent’s favor. Every time a blade came out, though, someone was going to get the point, and get it often.

ECQC was everything I hoped it would be. I’ve been looking for something that would integrate the gun solution to a violent attacker with the empty-hand solution to violence, and that’s exactly what it was. If an old and slow white guy like me can take this class and get a lot out of it, so will you.

Don’t Try To Understand ‘Em…

Don’t Try To Understand ‘Em…

… just rope ’em, tie ’em and brand ’em
Soon we’ll be living high and wide.

My heart’s calculatin’
My true love will be waitin’
Be waitin’ at the end of my ride

Move ’em on, head ’em up
Head ’em up, move ’em on
Move ’em on, head ’em up
Rawhide

A quick roundup of some articles I wrote that aren’t SHOT-related.

That Dropzone article is my first article for Shooting Sports USA, and they’ll be more articles over there by me in the near future. One thing that happened at SHOT this year is that I really diversified the number of places I’m writing for: Look for stuff on Beretta’s blog, the USCCA and even (gasp) American Hunter sometime this year.

Speaking of roundups (and bad segues), I’m outta here later today, off to take ECQC with Craig Douglas this weekend. This is a class I’m really looking forward to (even though I’ll probably get my @ss kicked in new and exciting ways) because it’s an area of self-defense that a) I know little about and b) have noticed for awhile now that there are a lot of people teaching a gun solution to violence and a lot of people teaching a martial art solution to violence but there are very few people integrating the empty handed skills of martial arts into the gun world.

Well, Craig is one of those people, so I am really looking forward to this class, no matter what it does to my poor, decrepit body.

The Problem Solver.

The Problem Solver.

My training priorities last year were two-fold: I wanted to take at least one course from an icon in the industry (which I did, with my MAG40 class at Safety Solutions Academy) and I wanted to fill in some of my gaps in knowledge. The Law Of Self-Defense class filled in my “here’s when you can bust a cap in someone and here’s when you can’t” knowledge, and the Friday before Christmas, I took a 3 hour class on pepper spray from Florida Firearms Training.

The class was quite good: It started off with the combat mindset and a decent primer on situational awareness, and then moved on to the legalities of pepper spray in the state of Florida. After more talk about use of force and when to unleash spicy treats on those around you, it was off to the range for some practice with inert cans on a charging attacker that’s 15 feet away. We all gleefully hosed down our attacker with our water guns, and that was that. Was it a tough class with many things to remember and a four-page exam afterwards? No. Was it meant to be that sort of class? Also no.

One of the things mentioned in the class is that it’s a good idea to replace your pepper spray cans every 2-3 years, and as the can I’ve been carrying around in my lower-profile setup is at least that old, (if not more) I enlisted some help and went off into the forest to spread some spicy cheer.

First off was discharging my small can before I disposed of it in the trash. I was only able to get a little over 2 seconds of spray on-target, but was able to dump a significant amount of spicy goodness onto a paper plate twelve feet away in that time.

Next up was the testing the inert version of the can I carry with more casual clothing. This time, I wanted to see how long it would take me to deploy the spray from concealment.

And the answer is: Just under three seconds. Almost twice as long as my handgun draw time. This tells me that if I see the potential need to use less-lethal, I’d be better off drawing and hiding in my hand way before the need to spice up someone’s life arises. The good news is, that larger can holds more propellant and spray, so I was able to coat the target with (inert) chemicals for four solid seconds before it gave out.

Lastly, I tried out a Smith&Wesson-branded spray can that was about the same size as the inert can of Sabre I used earlier. Kids, this is why cops and cognoscenti recommend Sabre and Fox sprays over other brands. The Smith&Wesson spray was wimpy and barely made it to the target 10 feet away. It had enough for just under four seconds of spray, but its effective distance was less that I can spit.

All in all, if you carry some spray, get training on it. You’ll learn a lot about what it can and can’t do, and you’ll be able to testify in court that yes, you knew what you were doing when you gave that mugger the full scotch bonnet treatment into his mucous membranes.