The Power of the Slap

Posted: October 14, 2010 in Combatives Techniques

The slap, or cupped hand blow, is a great WW2 combatives technique.  In the classic text, Kill or Get Killed, by Rex Applegate, it is shown as an Ear Concussion Blow (using both hands).  This is a very effective and powerful technique with very little complication.  Kelly McCann (aka Jim Grover), a security and combatives expert, gives a nice explanation here.  I also know he really likes using open-palm strikes against the head because it is a “flexible weapon” against a hard target, as opposed to using the bony structure of a fist against the bony structure of the skull.  Check it out:


I had some interesting questions this week about knife attacks that I did not have much time to address.  Here is Jim Grover (real name Kelly McCann), a security and combatives expert, explaining some principles about edged weapon defense.  Remember that edged weapons can be knives, screw drivers, box cutters, pens, or anything else with a sharp point.  He brings up some interesting points about pre-emptive attacks.  I trust what he says because this guy has really been in the trenches and goes about defense and combatives with a very practical mindset.  Take a look.  (By the way, all his DVD’s as Jim Grover or Kelly McCann are outstanding.  Every time I watch them I pick up on something new).

Low Light and Flashlights

Posted: October 12, 2010 in Target Hardening

A lot of crime occurs in low light conditions.  The shroud of darkness can be a real boon to a criminal and a major hindrance to the rest of us unless we are prepared.  In fact, we can use low light to our advantage with a simple tool like a flashlight.  If you are going out a night, make sure you have one of these with you at all times.  Let’s say you have to make an impromptu trip to the grocery store and it is already dark outside.  Take your flashlight with you into and out of the store.  I carry a Surefire, but you can carry whatever you want as long as you can click it on quickly.  I also carry mine in my left hand—my right hand is my strongest.  I can shine it into and around my vehicle prior to entering.  If someone approaches me, I have the option of shining it right in the eyes and messing with their night vision by clicking it on and off.  I participated in a fighting and firearms class this summer wherein we worked low-light conditions.  During one scenario, the role player who acted as my adversary could not see me at all—he could only see my light in his eyes.  This, of course, can put you at an advantage and in a position of power in a situation.

Keep a flashlight handy at home, also.  It can be an invaluable tool if you ever, God forbid, experience an intruder in the house.  Again, bright light can be disorienting to anyone operating in low light.  Put your flashlight in a place that is easy to get to.  Think about it.  What might be a situation wherein you suddenly need one?  Besides the power going out, the most likely scenario would be awakening to the sound of an intruder.  So, it would make sense to keep one or in a bedside table.

Flashlights make great improvised weapons!  If you have a Maglite or even a Surefire, you have a terrific impact weapon right in hand if the situation calls for it.  You can really work someone over with a flashlight!

Carrying one simple tool, you make yourself a harder target.  Unfortunately, monsters really do hide in the dark, so if you must maneuver in the dark in or out of doors, go prepared.  A light in the dark may be enough to scare off a predator, which certainly works in your favor.


The State of Terrorism

Posted: September 17, 2010 in Threat Assessment

Here is a very interesting document concerning the current state of terrorism, which I find very useful from a threat assessment standpoint.  I really feel that citizen awareness is crucial in protecting our homeland–law enforcement cannot be everywhere at once.  This is an open-source document and it is a summary of what has been happening since 9/11.  Very interesting and informative (the document is in .pdf format).

No Technique is One-Size-Fits-All

Posted: September 16, 2010 in Mindset

No self-defense technique is one-size-fits-all.  Did you ever practice one in earnest and not be able to make it work?  If you cannot make it work in training, what are the odds that you cannot make it work in reality?  That probably sounds like a dumb question, but some people will try to beat a dead horse.  Every one of us has different attributes.  There are big frames and small frames, large and small stature, weaker and stronger, faster and slower.  All of these things play into the dynamics of a fight.  I may be able to do something about my speed, power and strength.  I can do nothing about my frame, my stature, my sex (at least not in the short term!!), or my age.  As the JKD philosophy proposes: absorb what is useful.  Find what works for you.  Play with it, practice it, and then put it in your arsenal.  Don’t rely on a technique because someone else told you to.  Have a discerning mind and think critically about it.  If you have given the technique a fair shake and still are not able to make it work, then discard it.  There is almost always more than one way to do things.  Some people rigidly believe that there is only one way, and that they possess THE right way.  Approach this kind of mentality with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Safety While Running

Posted: September 14, 2010 in Target Hardening

I really enjoy trail running.  There is something very meditative about the woods and exercising underneath the tree canopy.  As I begin, my mind is full of thoughts, but as I progress, it empties out and I become immersed in nature.  Even as I do this, I must forever remain vigilant.  For a while, I did not go trail running.  Close to where I live, there were two incidents of attempted assault on women at two of my favorite spots along a network of greenways.  Both women were able to fight and get away, but these situations disturbed me as it felt like the sanctity of area was shattered.  After some time had passed, I decided I did not want these situations to stop me from living my life.  I just had to take some necessary precautions.

Perhaps you also enjoy running.  If you do, I encourage you to make yourself a harder target.  Here are some things to consider.

Go Armed

Whether you carry a kubotan, a knife, or even pepper spray, make sure you have full fast access to the weapon.  Running with a handgun is probably a bit awkward, no matter how conceal it or retain it.  Kubotans are nice because you can hold one right in your hand the whole time.  You always have an impact weapon ready, and if you can find one with a finger cord that you slip your middle and ring finger into, it sticks to your hand, ready for use.  I carry a folding knife in my hand whenever I go trail running; I have trained with knives for some time.  Just be sure if you do carry a knife, you know how to deploy it and are prepared to actually use it in a worst case scenario.  Pepper spray can be a great distraction.  But remember: it is a distraction.  Do not expect to knock someone out with spray.  Determined individuals can fight through the pain.  Think of spraying and running, or spraying and hitting and running.  If you choose to buy pepper spray, buy two canisters.  Take one out into your back yard and spray it.  Learn what your model actually does because different ones spray in different ways.  If you run with it, make sure the safety is off and it is ready to deploy.

Leave the Earbuds at Home

I discourage people from taking their music because in doing so, they cut off valuable sensory information.  This is especially true if you run during evening hours when visibility is significantly lower.  If you must run with your buds, keep one in the ear and leave one out.  That way you can still hear the outside world.

Run During Daylight Hours

I also discourage people from running at night.  Again, low visibility can be a hindrance.  It may be wonderful ambient temperature out there, but your risk increases.  I once spoke with a girl who liked to run at night around her college campus.  One evening, she was running with earphones and did not hear a man as he came up behind her and grabbed her.  He assaulted and raped her.  The perp turned out to be a high-profile student at the school.  Realize that there are predators out there who are opportunists.

Run With Others

If you have an opportunity, do run with other people.  There are running groups that meet and exercise together.  You may be able to find like-minded people through a Meetup group, or you might check with your local running gear shop.  There is always strength in numbers, and you have the added benefit of friendly competition and camaraderie as you engage in your favorite exercise.

We should all be able to live our lives as we see fit and do the things we want to do.  We also have to be smart and savvy about our environment.  I hate that we do not live in a safer, pristine world.  Nevertheless, I cannot change reality; I can only change myself.  To enjoy the world and all it has to offer, there is inherent risk, and I have to take certain precautionary measures to ensure my own safety.  In addition to all the aforementioned considerations, I have to practice good situational awareness.  My most important self-protection tool is my discerning mind.  If I use good judgment, most of the work of self-protection is already accomplished.  I encourage you to do the same while living your life to the fullest!

Here is an excellent example of ferocious resolve in action.  This woman knew she had to defend herself even though her attacker had a knife and slashed her several times.  She sustained many slash wounds, but is alive to tell her tale!