“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”

"This report is maybe 12-years-old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, 10, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people . . . better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave." ~ Captain Malcom Reynolds

Friday, February 27, 2009

A short list of ideas...

OK for the commenters who requested some of the ideas...

I had a bit of an internal debate on whether to share anything or not - given the whole bit of personal responsibility thing I feel in life as it were. Then again, given what you can find on the internet these days, it's not like I have anything Earth shattering in terms of revelations. Also - I am by no means an expert, or anyone you should be quoting as gospel. Just sharing some of my thoughts and experiences gained throughout the past 20 years - and the advice to learn on your own & seek out competent training in person.

So - some of the thoughts I'm up for sharing. Nothing near an exhaustive list, just a few simple ideas for those who are faced with travelling or who want to consider options besides a firearm.

The very first two weapons I am going to mention you always have and can use - that is your brain and your feet. Be aware of your surroundings, what is going on & what your gut is telling you. Two groups squaring off in a bar, a group of thugs eyeing you on the street corner, or the suspicious guys on the airplane should all be setting off your alarm buzzers & making you look at your options. This includes making sure that you are ABLE to think. That means leave the serious drinking binge for the night at home, or safe at the hotel bungalow - wandering a strange town, drunk and obviously foreign at 2am is pretty much an invitation for attention. In terms of your feet, it means avoid the conflict when you can. Again - now is not the time to prove your manhood in some brawl, or go charging into a bad situation. For cops in particular this can be hard, given our tendencies and training - but sometimes when travelling it is best to put that all aside & be a good witness. Of course, that's not always possible - but just remember, there is no shame in a good tactical retreat - particularly if you have family & kids along that need your protection more.

Much like when choosing & carrying a concealed pistol, everything is a compromise. You have to balance size, effectiveness, and your level of training and ability in what you choose. I am also a big advocate of multiple options - both in terms of having backups should one thing not work, and in terms of the whole use-of-force continuum. Just as the fact a simple argument between you and the drunk cousin-in-law doesn't justify the use of deadly force at home, being caught in the middle of a bar fight in a foreign country doesn't mean you get to jump right to your latest Bourne Identity favorite lethal move. Particularly when you consider that being involved in any sort of violence, and being an American overseas is pretty much a guarantee of rather severe legal repercussions which are not going to be solved quickly. However you also want the ability to keep your options open in case of those worst-case scenarios.

Along with that you want to minimize the appearance of being armed, or of something being a potential weapon. So - I won't go into what knives to carry, yarawa sticks, kubotons or any of those typical items. Besides which, there are far more qualified people than me to discuss such things. Instead, look at some ideas that are much lower in profile than that.

One simple item that is available anyplace you go in one form or another is the old fashioned blunt instrument. Beer bottles, stools, books, backpacks, etc - pretty much anyplace you go has something you can use to block an attack and hit another if need be. An excellent, and frequently overlooked item, is the simple cane. Anywhere from a 10 dollar pharmacy special to a high-end Irish blackthorn, you can take a cane anyplace at all. Even TSA at the airport isn't going to stop someone from using their walking aid to get on & off the plane. With that cane you now have another 3 feet of reach on someone, a way to keep an attacker at a distance and to effectively respond if need be. Avoid things like sword canes, concealed knives in the handle etc as these will only land you in trouble - just buy something solid. Furthermore, like anything else, if you have a chance to get quality training jump on it. The varients of escrima are taught in most of the major cities now, and even a few months of lessons will give you an idea of how to use a stick much more effectively.

Do note that should you use something like a bottle or other implement that breaks, becomes sharp &/or cuts or permanently injures someone you are facing the same potential consequences as if you had used a knife or other lethal weapon in most areas. So again, make sure you are justified in whatever you do - not saying don't defend yourself, just keep in mind proportional requirements.

Another option is the use of flexible weapons. Belts with a good buckle, a length of cord with or without a weight, even a heavy gold necklace if you're sporting your pimp bling. Again - you have the advantage of an item you can wear or carry that doesn't immediately look like a weapon. Possibilities for use include not only striking out with these, but it is a great tool to entrap and entangle a weapon or limb if you are being attacked. Again, look at practice & training and everything else - don't presume that just because you are carrying it that you are ready.

One option for this that I have seen a lot amongst certain groups is the old paracord bracelet/lanyard or whatever. Braided, coiled or what have you this not only gives you the potential weapon, but is useful as a survival tool should that situation arise. While useful & something I have myself, do keep in mind that things such as this tend to telegraph your possible knowledge & skills to those "in the know" - which can include the badguys.

So, if you're not carrying a knife, what about the pointed & edged implements? Well - another simple one, that no one is going to have a problem with... how about a pen? A good sturdy pen can stab, scrape, and be used for defense and as a leverage tool. Surefire makes a good sturdy one that also has a glass-breaking tip, and looks like any other high end pen. Cold Steel has another nice version that is a permanent marker, but with much stronger plastic to use as that blunt implement again.

Or, just keep in mind things like restaraunt silverware and all that - again, it sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised what people overlook. Heck, in Feudal Japan the use of chopsticks as a weapon was even addressed...

Two old credit cards glued together with one edge filed can sit in your wallet & not attract any attention.

Again, think of your advantages & disadvantages of all these things - while they are not obvious weapons, they also require you to get close in order to use them. Definitely more defensive items than offensive, but given the choice between that and dying...

Thrown items abound in possibilities. Contrary to the ninja movies, this don't instantly stick deep in your oponent killing them in a second as you drop a dozen in one throw. However, they are a great distraction tool, and can certainly cause plenty of damage when used. Just a quick look around almost any location will reveal things you can throw. The only cardinal rule here is that, again unlike the movies, don't throw away your only weapon leaving yourself with nothing but your hands.

My one "don't do" advice is to avoid things like the polymer "CIA" knives, folding shuriken or any of the other stuff marketed in the back of some magazines. Not only is 90% of it crap but it will put you in danger of criminal charges in most places if found. Not only that, given the nature of such things, imagine how easy it is for the press, prosecutor & judge to label you as violent or crazy based on your possession of these "hidden killer items."

These are just a few simple thoughts - I could go on for hours on this just brainstorming. The easiest way to start thinking yourself through these things is just to practice. When you travel, or sit around a room or go into a new place look around. What are your escape routes? Where are things like lights, phones, alarms, etc? What is there that could be used as a weapon? Play the "what if?" game with yourself - if someone comes in that door and I grab this, what will I do with it? The possibilities are endless. If you're sitting in a taxi at the light look at the cars around you, see who does what. Look for those things that set of the alarm bells & plan in advance - 99.9% of the time you won't need it, but if you do then you are already ahead of the general sheep.

So, a bit longer than I first intended, but maybe this will give folks some stuff to think about.


Jon said...

Nice post Sean. I especially like the point about the cane.

What it comes down to, as with most things is personal preparation. Think ahead - and you'll be more prepared for any situation. Think ahead, and get training - and you've got more then a fighting chance.

Home on the Range said...

A lot of good information that many people need. Anything can be a weapon. The people that wish to outlaw guns don't seem to get that.

I watch my surroundings all the time. I was in an office the other day, and noted where the exits were, where some large fire extinguishers were that could be used to distract someone and then conk them with, where the blind alleys were in corridors where you could get trapped. Paranoid? No, just aware that sometimes people walk into these "gun free" work zones with their own little gun, leaving the people that just happen to be there, defenseless.

Anonymous said...

Used feet to run from a gun pointed at my head, used thrown objects to buy time and get a girl (a stranger) out of harm's way, using a cane for no particular reason when I feel like having company. Great post, Sean.