Every Day Carry – Where Do You Draw The Line?

 Another confession? I am but a tactical tourist. Oh, the shame. The stigma.

     No, not like a person who travels the world like a smart tourist with ultra-light, waterproof clothes and my museum and restaurant guide in the ready back pocket. No, not that kind of vacation tourist. I am just a guy going through my daily, suburban lifestyle with very little survival gear. Sometimes I dare enter urban areas, too, … gulp … yes, you read right! URBAN areas and with very little combat gear. You know, places where people apparently must have PHDs in URBAN fighting just to survive through the day! 

     How many guns, magazines, knives, lights, medical kits, maps, compasses need I carry on my body to go out the door and into the real world? My real world? On an “everyday carry?” What is your “real world?” 

     Through the years, we have heard the term “tactical lifestyle” from very common folk, and along with it the brag –

     “I, (or we) live a…tactical lifestyle.”

     And that does sound cool. But several of us in the training business, and with actual experience in military, security and policing have to wonder sometimes if people know what they are saying and doing compared to the big picture.  Do these proclaimers actually know where they fit in the “action-guy chart”? Fit, inside the full spectrum of war and crime and a tactical lifestyle?

     My friend Mick Coup in the U.K. came up with another term – the “tactical tourist,” years ago. A visitor to the world of tactics. In and out. But also never really “in” for most consumers/folks. Mostly out, looking in and misunderstanding their status.

     I have seen various under-channels, or sub-channels, in the cable TV systems around the USA. TV shows on hunting, guns, and self-defense – mostly about guns for sport, but they have gun defense shows too. Or, we see similar news or features on YouTube and on Facebook. Hey, how about all those gun magazines? The other day I counted fifteen different gun magazines on a shelf in a common supermarket. Fifteen! More than any other genre like fitness or even women’s makeup, or gossip rags. Fifteen! (Shows you where the commercial money is.) Like the TV shows, inside the mags are numerous articles about extreme safety and survival ala gun themes (after all, they are gun magazines). Some folks call them “gun porn.” The editors and writers pontificate, and readers worry and fret over gear and the four basic, generic problems really,

  • the “street” gun fight,
  • the “anywhere” armed robbery,
  • the day or night burglar/home invasion,
  • the mass shooter.

     Oh, maybe a kidnapping thrown in? Recently they fret over the mass shooter, due to our times. From these 4 or 5  problems, tons and tons of deep and deeper, redundant material spews forth. Like a muscle magazine covers “the curl” ten thousand times from ten thousand body builders. It’s a curl!  These publications and shows say the same things over and over again. That, and gear. Gear, gear, and more and more gear. And if you take a bubble bath? You’d better have gun underwater with you. And that special grade of under water-proof ammo.

     But the gear. Oh, the gear. Firearms expert Massod Ayoob said recently:

     “There seems to be an unwritten law on the gun-related Internet saying, ‘If you carry less than I do, you’re a pathetic sheeple, and if you carry more than I do, you’re a paranoid mall ninja.’ Forgive me if I can’t buy into either of those attitudes.”

many guns

     So where do you draw the line in the gear you carry every day? Certainly most of the readers here and of those magazines and watchers of gun TV shows are everyday, very normal people doing everyday normal things in life. Yet these cable, magazine, and media folks are really loaded for bear with guns, ammo, lights, knives, med kits, and like…that bracelet thingy that unstrings into an emergency length of rope for … for … emergency repelling? Garroting a sentry? I have seen a complete belt that unravels into a survival emergency cord. All this for a morning coffee run?  A dentist visit?

     It is a bit of a fad on Facebook to photograph one’s “everyday carry” – the things a person carries every day, the “EDC” to be prepared for everything between sudden Armageddon down to an obnoxious panhandler. Guns, knives, ammo, cords, phones, and Ninja key chain. Spray. Odd-shaped, hand-held plastic devices you must also carry to strike recalcitrant people. And another gadgets to twist people in grappling locks. That tactical pen! A pen made of harder stuff than usual pens, but still writes! Maybe even in outer space! These seem to be the common carry for the best-prepared and macho soul. Not one, but two of some of these things. Everyone else must then marvel then at these photos of your brilliant, thoughtful EDC – at the tactical brilliance of the collection in your pockets, armpits, boot, belt and crotch, I guess. Wow! He is really ready to go out and buy that muffin! Hope he makes it back alive.

     In one of those cable TV features, they once covered a segment of a completely over-armed woman – with a med-kit in the small of her back –  in a short walk from her front door to her mailbox out front. Some folks go purchase milk prepped like they are being dropped into Cambodia for a week. Do you wear a medical kit in the small of your back when going to buy a birthday card in a gift shop two miles from your house? Some folks I’ve heard of wear pistols all day long inside their own houses. The fear of the home invasion or that sudden gun battle right outside. I can’t discuss this readiness subject without mentioning the extremely odd Americans standing around on street corners or in Walmarts with AR-15s and shotguns strapped on their torsos or hung from unnecessary, tactical vests with lanyards.

carry

     “But … but, Hock, when you need a gun….” Oh, here comes the “need-a” speech that covers ALL gear, ALL-the-time carry. But before you go all hyper-sensitive on me, there’s nothing wrong with carrying a “pistola” around. Carrying a gun is not the point here. Or a pocket knife. But how many? How much more? But…along with an MRE? And a food poison kit in case the MRE is bad? Is there a water purifier pen stuffed in your sock? Don’t laugh! I know a guy who has one when he flies. As if, when he survives the plane crash, he can find and crawl to bad water? You carry a small flashlight. What about batteries for that light then, and when will those back-up batteries expire? Some suggest a mandatory, less-than-lethal product along with your gun, your knife and your hand grenade. Like pepper spray. Lethal and less than lethal. How much stuff and backup stuff and backup to the backup stuff do you think you need? Where do you draw the line on the gear?

“Where do you draw the line on the gear you carry?”

     “Greywolf,” a former federal agent and military veteran who has deployed to combat theaters in Africa, Iraq, and Afghanistan and has almost three decades of military and military contracting experience of Greywolf Survival, says that the expression “two is one, one is none” is a fallacy. He says people follow it blindly because it sounds cool. He advised that much thought should go into what “redundant” gear you carry. I think he is correct.

     For example, in the past if I was on a special task force with a mission, say a Fugitive Round-Up Task Force or a robbery stake-out, I would “dress more for the proverbial bear.” I would double this and that. Haul around something special. In some ways, the proverbial “two is one, one is none” approach. Just in some practical ways. But then as a normal, everyday detective, or patrolman, I would carry considerably less. Way, way less. Way less than some of the citizens, cable TV stars, and magazine authors and their followers suit up for in a quick run to buy Frosted Flakes or aspirin. When you do one thing, then you realize what you need or don’t need for something else.

for gear article

     When I was in the patrol divisions here and overseas? Yeah – I had my mandatory Batman/Sam Brown belt, which held considerable less techno than today’s options, but I also had support gear in the patrol car. We all made a calculated guess on what we wore, what was left in the trunk and what we took with us from the trunk, call-to-call-to-call. How far will we probably travel from the car? Do I need the carbine on every call? Absolutely not. A parachute? No. Experience and training can offer darn, good guesses. The pros still do this every day.

     For example, as cops we know to carry a flashlight because even at clear-sky, high noon we find ourselves in a dark, dingy basement. Does a citizen need a flashlight in their pocket to buy ham sandwich at noon? Really? I always had a hand axe in my trunk, because if the call or the situation developed where I might need one (like wall penetration or rescue), I would dash back to the car and get it. I did not walk around 24-7 with an Army Ranger Tomahawk on my belt (and by the way, the local Home Depot has real cheap and wonderful  rubber-handled axes – at a fraction of the cost over those tantalizing Conan war axes for sale).

     If we/they are smart, we answer these questions on many levels, big and small:

  • Who are you, exactly? Who do you think you are going to fighting
  • What exactly are you really doing?
  • Where exactly are you really going?
  • When exactly are you going?
  • How will you actually go?
  • Why are you going there in the first place?

     The menu of life! You must…

For the rest of this article and other subjects, read Fightin’ Words, click here

01 Book Cover-med

 

The Karambit Gambit Handicap

keram 2 -post size

There’s an old story going around about me and a karmabit. The tale goes that during a seminar, lunch break, in the 1990s, a guy walked up to me and showed me his karambit, and I looked at it, opened a nearby window and threw it out the window of a two-story building. This isn’t true. I would never do that to a guy’s property. I can say confidently that not only would I not be so rude as to throw his property out a 2-story window, I would never throw my own karambit out a window either – because I would never own one in the first place to toss it.

You know, the curved-bladed knife that looks like a single animal claw. Some folks think they are God’s gifts to knives. And I am shown, and I get to see, way too many karambits. I see photos and photos of them in the web. God, they look cool. All kinda’ science-fictiony, Klingon-like. Deadly. Tiger-paw looking. In fact, I have come to believe that, they are so scary looking because they remind us of animal claws of critters we are naturally afraid of.

Straight, bent, curved are the choices. The curve of the knife. How curved must one be to qualify? Quite a bit. The more curve, the worse. There are knives on the market that have some bend to them, some just a slight bend, bended/angle. You know one when when you see one.

What did they tell us in elementary school years ago, when writing an essay? “Contrast and compare.” Then what of the Karambit Handicap. It’s a gambit. I hope I can leave this up here on the web as a source for people with these questions for me and questions in general about the true value of the curved knife in the big picture of use, simplicity and survival. I hope I can offer some reasoning and answers about the subject. The following are my personal beliefs and how I have come about them. If you love you some karambits? That’s fine. Enjoy a happy, healthy life. I hope you NEVER have to use one, (or any knife) in any fight.

First, before the hate mail comes in, understand my self-defense-only mission. I don’t collect knives and guns, no more than I would hammers and screwdrivers. But, being in the business of knife instruction, I am often shown karambits and asked questions about karambits.  I can honestly proclaim I have never seen a karambit I didn’t think was very, very, cool looking.

Now look, you can cut somebody with a torn-open, tin can top. I also don’t want to be attacked by anything sharp. Broken glass bottle. Nope. A spear? Hell no. A Karambit? Good God, no. But the question remains is, yes, while a tin can will cut you, is it the smartest thing to use? Do we need the Tactical Tin-Can course? No. Think of this on a scale. You must get a knife. Get the best, versatile knife. Like a straight knife that stabs with deep efficiency potential and slashes without getting stuck in bodies and some clothing and can also, easily perform dozens of handy, life-saving and survival chores from chopping wood to cooking.

As a questioner, as a skeptic, never a fan-boy, not naïve, I just don’t fall for worshipping a system-head or a system. It’s a recipe for potential mistakes and failure. If you never question your revered leader, you fail to evolve. So does he and the system he does. Or folks never question gear of the revered. Do you think you must fight with a Klingon knife because you worship the culture, look, feel and history of Klingons? Or are you really looking to carry, fight and survive with the best, most versatile, edged weapon? Are you so mystified by a culture that you can’t see the faults? I know Systema people who like it so much, they start believing in and supporting Communism. I know Kung Fu people who change their religion west to east. Communism and Zen Buddhism should have nothing to do with kicking a guy in the nuts or selecting the best knife. If you want to learn how to fight with hands, sticks, knives and guns? Keep hero-worship OUT of the picture. Keep system worship out of the picture. I think this imperative. 

Am I just so untrained and dumb in the wild and wooly ways of the karembit? I frequently get hate mail over this from fan-boys and faddists. Someone will always suggest that I am ignorant and suggest that maybe I should take a real, karambit course from Dijon Scoop and see the wonders and magic of the knife. I was force-fed balisong and karambit material since the late 1980s with  multiple training trips to Negros Island and Manila, the Philippines, and many times since there and here since. These knives were part of curriculum we had to learn all the way to Filipino black belt, along with a lot more of the straight knife material. (and well – just forget about the odd, opening process with the balisong. I mean, seriously, why bother? Unless of course you are a weapons-historian-collector-artison of some sort, and I am not.).  

As soon as I held a karambit in my hand, it felt wrong, off taget and much of what they asked me to do was clearly unnecessary when compared to all the other straight blade training. As a former Army and Texas cop and an investigator most of my adult life, from arrests, cases and forensic training, I learned the straight knife is far superior and can do just about everything better and simpler than any curved knife, just about any time. The curve of the blade is a handicap. The more the curve, the more the handicap.

I cringe every time I see a seminar attendee with a karambit training knife. I know that this person will have an extra and harder time doing even the most simple, obvious, historically-successful knife moves. My worst-case-scenario knife training course is built to be as simple as possible, as fast and effective, with the obvious and simple tools mostly found, which are the straight blades. Curved blades complicate simplicity. I recall the first time a karambit-teer showed up in a New England seminar in the 1990s. He was a rather famous, Silat guy (great guy, very friendly) showed up with his curved plastic trainer. He had difficulty doing even the most simple, primitive knife things all day long. He couldn’t stab deep which is forensically the most successful, quicker kill method. It was plain to see that when slashing, his curve and tip would get stuck in body parts. Did he know he had to improvise and construct more steps, more “work-arounds,” to get the otherwise, simple job done .  Through the years the curved blade trainees still appear in my classes. The curve group often has to pow-wow off in the corner to make a simple thing work, because they are mentally and physically confined from the curved shape of their knife. Their adaptations always involve extra work-arounds and extra training and extra movement to do something otherwise done simpler with the straight blade. 

What do I mean by simple, proven moves? One quick, simple example? Studies by the Marines in 1980s – while researching World War II knife tactics in the South Pacific, the USMC study group discovered that the uppercut stab to the groin/intestines, and, or the diaphragm/heart and, or even up inside the jawbone – the common hooking uppercut was a very successful. Successful, but oddly, not really emphasized and in most cases not taught. Yet, Marines instinctively still did them. Naturally. Natural. This research led to the implementation of these very natural moves in training courses. Instinctive. Natural. Simple. Now, can you do this natural, straight knife, saber grip uppercut into these areas with a karambit. You can’t plummet a karmabit as deep and powerful into these vital parts as a saber, straight knife. The karambit will require extra training and still won’t garner the same success. All forensic  specialists will list deep stabs as very deadly.

Perhaps the biggest point to me is that the human race has evolved to hunt, grow, prepare food and eat with a straight knife. Ever try to eat a steak with a karambit? Cut and butter bread? I have a friend who likes to tease me on this point and threatens to send me a video of him eating a steak with his curvy karambit. I’ll bet he can! I’ll also bet he can eat a steak with a torn, tin can too. The point is, THE EXTRA WORK INVOLVED! Not that you can or can’t, but rather – what is the smartest, easier tool to use. And we can’t forget, simple kitchen cutlery has reeked international havoc in self-defense, crime and war. In civilized countries over 99% of all knife violence is with simple, STRAIGHT kitchen cutlery. A pretty good success rate for the straight blade.

The Dueling Test. And needless to add, take a guy with a straight, blade knife in a saber grip versus a guy with karambit and let them duel. Who do you think has the advantage? Spar it out. Take two Superflys and spar this straight vs. curved karambit. I can tell you from doing that for decades and organizing/ref experience that the saber grip straight blade has the advantage. Not that dueling is the end-all knife encounter, oh no, but dueling can and does happen. And listen to this – this is telling – even the beloved Superflies still teach and use a whole lot of straight knives too! Most still teach more straight knife than curved knife. Why bother if the Karambit was God’s gift for knife work? Wouldn’t they give up on straight blade material all together? 

“Oh but my Dijon! My Dijon does so many arm manipulations-catches with the curve.”  Do you think you will really hook and push around so many angry, adrenalized arms with a karambit as Dojon Superfly does in a cooperative flow drill on Youtube? And by the way, a straight knife, saber or reverse grip can push and pull arms around too.

Stress Quick Draws Issues. A comprehensive knife program covers stress quick draws. It seems all modern knives now try to have some pocket catching device that facilitates a quick folder opening. But some don’t. Sometimes people get their folder out,but in the heat of the fight, can’t open right away. The folder then must become a palm stick until it can be opened. Your smart- selected knife when folded, ends should protrude from the top and bottom of the fisted hand, and it should support the hand inside the fist for punching. I have a pretty big hand and have tried punching heavy bags with various karambits. Due to the needed space for the curved blade, the folded karambits are quite wide and have all hurt to punch with. This “wideness” and pain when punching alert is on my “what-knife-to-pick” checklist and another survival reason/problem to avoid the karambit.

Spinning the Karambit? a simple ring in the handle alone does not a karambit make. I have seen some folks calling a straight knife with a ring in the handle a karambit, just because of the ring. No. The blade has to have a significant, curve to be one, ring or no ring. Now, to what degree of a curve, I can’t precisely say. I think you know one when you see one. The ring is for mostly for retention and…spinning. On spinning, another dubious karambit characteristic or which even the Karambit sellers page warn:

“Karambit spinning is showy, flashy and useless without significant training, practice and understanding of the application. New users should not spin karambits until they’re intimately familiar with their blade, its balance, the way it fits into their hand in various grips and while in motion AND, most importantly, until they’ve received instruction.”

the-kermabit-gambit-knife

Further, “…many people don’t use the smaller muscles in the hands and it takes time to build them up.”

Confessions from a top karambit salesman! And there you have it from the source. More stuff to do. More muscles to build. More unnecessary stuff to do.

Spinning and chopping off limbs with the Karambit?  A friend of mine, unusually consumed by all things “distant” and eastern, oriental and Indonesian, was telling me that a butcher he knew, using a very stout, very big karambit with a sharp outside edge, could flip/spin the curved knife and chop off the limbs of large animals in his shop. It took some practice, but he could. The message for me was that the karambit could, if worked right, with the right momentum, chop off big things in a power spin. CHOP! I just nodded my head. Whatever. “TOOK…SOME…PRACTICE.” But such takes more work, awkward applications, etc. and stouter karambits with a sharp outside edge. If it were a big folder? How do you have a sharp, outside edge like this and carry it? Not in a pocket, but in a sheath…in case you know…you have to lop off a criminal’s hand. I am quite sure the butchers of the world will still prefer regular straight knives and cleavers for more efficient, consistent success. What will be this butcher’s tool of day-to-day preference. The easy one.  

Is it skill-with-weapon-alone? Martial artists like to argue that all you need is skill with just about about weapon that will win the day. “Don’t be so picky, Hock! It’s the skill with the weapon that really counts.” And Captain America makes a garbage can cover a deadly weapon! The only problem with that is, none of your pupils are Captain America (or Musashi). And you are not Captain America. And if you are? At 38 years old, you won’t be at 48. “It’s skill with the weapon that counts”…this is a very martial artsy thing to say, and to over-believe. And a lame excuse that could lead to the acceptance of lesser weapons. “I’ll just work harder and forever with this one. After all, it’s not the best, but…but skill. MORE SKILL!

Leaders, decision makers certainly in the military and policing, obsess about finding and authorizing the best weapons they can, not settling. (They often fail in their selection process because these leaders are often there from the “Peter Principle,” promoted beyond their means and are inept.) But at least they know they have to try, equip and train. Citizens too must fully investigate their guns and knife choices too, void of hyperbole theory, fads and…looks. Develop your best skill with the BEST WEAPON choice.
 
As retired cop and martialist Bret Gould reminds us, “And as we get older, many forget , it was Sam Colt that made men equal. It took superior ability and training to be a samurai only to be killed by a peasant with a gun. The equalizer.
 
 

End Users. Sellers of Karambits often have much sales-pitch, yadda-yadda about the cancer-curing perfections/wonders of the curved shape. They often proclaim that just about everyone on the planet already uses, benefits and really needs the really curved knife. Everyone except the real people you see, you know, work with and read about and watch in documentaries, etc. I suggest you challenge every line of the sales pitch because in the end, it is not the selection of the practical.

Work-Mission Versatility

  • Butchers don’t use or mandate them. 
  • Surgeons don’t use or mandate them.
  • Cooks don’t use or mandate them.
  • Hunters don’t use or mandate them. 
  • Fishermen don’t use or mandate them. 
  • Soldiers & Marines don’t use or mandate them. 
  • People don’t use or mandate them to camp.
  • Workers with real labor jobs won’t use-mandate them.
  • People don’t eat with them (this is a big point).
  • Prosecutors and police LOVE to see you use them.

If they are so perfect and superior for the end-user, why are they not used by all humanity almost of the time? Try giving a farmer, a factory worker or a camper just a karambit and see how long that idea lasts before they trade out for a straight blade. Give a carpet layer a karambit and he will quickly resort back to his classic carpet knife.

hunting catalogI recently thumbed through the Cabela’s catalog, and for those overseas, Cabela’s is a giant chain store in the USA , one stop-shop for hunting, shooting, fishing gear and outdoor clothes. It’s enormous and could never exist in most countries because of the knives and guns. I did a countdown of their knife section geared for hunters, skinners, gutters, meat prep and fishing knives. Ten pages of knives, about 8 to 10 practical, knives on each page. About 80 to 100 knives for hands-on “users and workmen” and none, not a single one was a karambit.

Some right-angle bends remind me somewhat of carpet knives. The sharp, 90 degree bend of the carpet knife, its position to the handle, is superior to the more curved karambits, otherwise thousands of carpet layers would have invented karambits or they would all use karambits. They don’t. Some folks, like carpet folks, work projects that require that real, sharp point and a hard, direct bend, for the maximum position of their hand grip for the job. As a detective I have worked some serious, slashing assaults involving common, carpet knife attacks.

 

Wolverine has straight claws

Losing the natural, hammer grip stab. There seems to be an inert, intuitive hammer fist application with a reverse grip stab. Think of the power of just a hammer fist. It alone breaks many boards, many ice blocks, many pieces of cement. Imagine that force delivering a straight knife stab! But wait! Now hold a karambit in its reverse grip application, as in the curved end looping out of the bottom of the hand. Gone is all the hammer fist intuition. Gone is the simple, practical, stab and its extra power shot potential. .

Getting Stuck. The hooked blade, like an axe…gets stuck in people and things. The curved point is called a hook, because…it hooks. I see the karambit practitioners simulating cuts with figure 8 patterns and X patterns in the air, or in front of partners. No contact. Do they not realize that with contact, their point embeds into the person and the bones and the clothing, gear, etc.? X pattern over. Figure 8 pattern over. And now they must learn extraction techniques, unique to that knife. Extra stuff to learn. (this is also true with the tomahawk/axe craze. On first impact? THUNK! NO more slap-dash, flowy, dancy, prancy axe moves, just a big-ass axe (or knife) sunk into bone structures.

As a Karambit fan replied, “Oh yeah, not that the Indonesians didn’t use them successfully for hundreds of years…   Well, Mr. Fan, what is the difference between “successfully” and something “more successfully?” We have already concluded that any sharp thing cuts. What is the best, sharp thing? Even in the Pacific, I think the karambit was a minority knife among the straight or straighter blades. And indig, Indos used some of them within whole tons of straight and only slightly curved knives and swords too. 

 
If so wonderful, I wonder why they ever they bothered with the straight ones? Anyway, the first time I saw a bunch of the regional weapons in the 1980s, I noted how many of the straight ones had pistol-like grips which was interesting and comfortable. The most famous area one is the Kris, small and big. Straight but wavy. The story goes that the waves cut more, but while I was “over there,” I learned that each wave had a religious meaning. The shapes of Indo-edged weapons were “talismans with magical powers, weapons, sanctified heirlooms, auxiliary equipment for court soldiers, accessories for ceremonial dress, an indicator of social status, a symbol of heroism, etc.” You hear a lot of historical stories about the how and why of these shapes, some not related to actual fighting at all.
 
“The Kris remains the most distinctive sword of Southeast Asia and the Philippines and was extensively used. The sinuously waved, yet very straight bladed Kris is said to represent the tail of stingray, a dragon, or the winding body of a snake.” I do think the karambit was a minority knife among the majority of straight or straighter blades, such as the Kris.
 

And lastly, need we discuss the legal stigma again of this Klingon-looking knife. It gets legally bad enough to use any knife for any self defense, but this knife, by its very appearance also causes negative, legal prejudices to the police, the prosecutors, the courts and to juries. Think of it in terms of pistols. Would you rather defend yourself with the “Widowmaker” pistol? Or…the “Peacemaker” pistol?” Yes, these…things…count. In a recent self defense courtroom trial, Assistant District Attorney in Texas Aaron Bundoc also said of the defendant’s self defense use of the karambit, “It was not a self-defense tool as Hernandez alleged.” He said “…a Karambit is a combat weapon designed to gut and butcher people.”  Like it or not, (as with guns) or knives, the jury listened.

Look, what do I care about people, their fixations, fascinations and hobbies? Why should you care what I think? Some people love history and weapons. Perhaps you are an artisan? Some people like to crack bull whips, while the whip is on fire! Get a hobby! Get a karambit and mess with it. Do all that extra training. Place it on a rotating pedestal in your den. One in each pocket and on a neck chain. Get the t-shirt and ballcap. Follow the Dijon. Smile. Live long and prosper. These are just my personal beliefs and opinions. 

For me, a karambit is a handicap to sheer simplicity and ultimate practicality. People are just too damn hypnotized by the shape, culture, history, hero-worship and system-worship. If you really contrast and compare, without bias and fixations, fandom and fads? What do you come up with? Being that we here are Force NECESSARY, and not Force UN-necessary, no karambits for me please. But please do however continue to show me your karambits. They are all very cool looking. And I certainly will not throw them out of any window. Only, you know…figuratively speaking.

______

Extra!  While I would probably watch this gal juggle marshmallows for hours, WHY is she spinning this Klingon, unnecessarily curved edged-weapon around and Lord knows she cuts herself badly in the end…

click here for the video clip

****************

Email Hock at Hock@SurvivalCentrix.com

Get the Knife Book

Over 1,400  plus how-to photos. From standing to the ground, from grip-to-grip, situations to scenarios, the most comprehensive knife book on combatives you will find anywhere, at any time! Training! Exercises! Tactics! How to Train! Plus True Military Knife Combat Stories! 300 pages.

 

 

 

The Drop Dead Gun

 

“If I die in combat zone. Box me up and ship me home.”

You’ve all heard that ditty? Or, maybe you haven’t? It comes for most who have had it as a cadence –  a song – we all sang while marching and running in the military. It has been bastardized, or satired and altered for various messaging. One paraphrased version we don’t see much anymore, but old-timers will remember, was popularized on some t-shirts and posters years back. It was about you dying in a combat zone and having your gear split up by survivors, the words accompanied by the artwork of a rip-shirt, commando. This splitting-up is a very good idea for several reasons, but I don’t think the commandment reaches deep enough in citizen and police training methodology.

“If I die in a combat zone? Get my ammo, guns and gear and…continue to kill the enemy.”

It is common advice in shoot-outs that drawing and using a second gun is faster than reloading your first one. This of course depends on where you are carrying that second gun, but the advice is classic and comes from veterans. Did you arrive at this scene with a second gun? Can you find a second gun at the scene? More ammo? Was there a “second” gun, loose and back on the ground that you just ran right by?

There are numerous, vitally important, physical, gun-survival things you cannot and will not learn or get to do, should you decide to forever shoot on a paper target range and consider that practice to be the end-all to gun-fighting. 

This year, 2022 marks the 26th year that I have routinely, almost weekly, (barring Covid madness) created and supervised simulated ammo shooting scenarios of some sort. Some are short and involve two people. Some are much longer and involve numerous people, all are in numerous situations and locations. Urban. Suburban. Rural. Inside and outside. Daytime. Nighttime. People get shot by whatever simulated ammo we get to use for the training session. This reality can be very demoralizing. But, it happens.

In the briefing, I ask the participants, once “shot,” to evaluate their wounds when hit. If shot in their shooting limb, then they switch hands and carry on a bit. If shot in the leg, they limp on for a bit. If they take one or two serious shots, like shot in the head, I ask them to drop right where they are and essentially…“they be dead.” Playing this dead part, however demoralizing, is important, as you will soon read. Loose, or with lanyards and slings, you and your gun are laying there for all to seize.

Remember this is a very situational thing. How many guns and how much ammo did you bring? How long will this last? What to do about a “drop dead gun,” or the dropped gun – one dropped by a seriously wounded or dead person. Comrade or enemy? You can lecture on this, show charts, and talk it up. On the live-fire range, you can put various kinds of domestic or foreign guns in various conditions on a bench and suddenly make people pick them up, make-ready, load them, etc. and shoot them (which has been done forever by a few clever instructors by the way, but not enough, but done). The true savvy and timing of doing this pick up inside a hot, under-fire, hunter-hunted situation is hardly if ever practiced on the live-fire range. Too dangerous? A sims only endeavor? 

Loser-Taker Disarming. Technically, disarming should end with concerns of “weapon recovery.” Weapon recovery is often ignored in training. Recovering disarmed or dropped weapons is a missing link in most hand, stick, knife and gun martial, art or otherwise, systems. On the subject of weapon disarming training, two folks play parts. One the gun-loser, one the gun-taker. Most ignore the fact that either one could be the good guy or the bad guy, and typically the good guy gets to disarm-take from the bad guy in most typical training. This one-sided, prioritizing hinders good-guy, weapon recovery skills, but…look around you, this is the usual format, isn’t it?.

What if you are the good guy loser? When your pistol has been disarmed from you, holstered or out, you MUST recover it, hopefully while the taker is fumbling around with it, to get it aimed back at you. In practice, gun-takers often just take the gun, flip it around, fiddle with it into position, etc. Still the good-guy-loser must get his weapon back from bad-guy-taker, and instantly. Rush him! Now! (It is also a great training idea to have the bad-guy-loser instantly rush the good-guy-taker for the good-guy-taker to realize he has to instantly grapple with this reality heat. Are you following me with the whose-who?)

(Some instructors demand that the taker should perform impossible checks, fixes and repairs in those few split-seconds right upon acquisition, not expecting a vicious counter attack, weapon recovery from the loser. And in the real world, was the taken gun a replica? Out of battery? Empty? These are issues for another distinct, subject-centric article just about these very things.) 

But weapon recovery is a bigger issue that just good-guy, bad-guy, taker-loser disarming. There’s the rarely mentioned recovery of your downed comrade’s or enemy’s weapon, what this essay is actually about.

Blackboard-weapon recovery 

Aside from disarming, guns are dropped. I run only situational, simulated ammo gun courses, never teaching marksmanship.  I once saw a range master, and trophy winner cop, standing before an armed training partner in a scenario. Both with gas guns. The draw! And the police instructor vet lost his pistol in the air, mid-draw. He had never drawn right in front of an armed man with a pain-delivering gun. Gas gun hit the floor. Just the first time. Next time, he adjusted.

We also see photos and hear about such fumbles in both normal and stressful times. We see them dropped in simulated ammo scenario training. We even see them dropped at live fire ranges. Long guns and pistols are dropped with some frequency in non-combat life, of which we have no stats on, but they get dropped from time to time. I can’t recall dropping mine in some 50 years, but I’ve seen my friends and co-workers drop theirs a time or two. And we certainly see them dropped on youtube.  One example, we were doing a street shooting situation in Las Vegas. A very athletic, concealed carry guy ran from car to car and dropped his pistol. The metal gun hit the street in front of him and to make matters even worse, when it landed, he KICKED it! Kicked it right under a parked car…needless to say. He was killed.

Dropped When Shot. I can say with some experience that four common things happen when someone holding a firearm is shot. The shot person:

  • Drops the gun, or…
  • Convulsively fires the weapon, no aiming, or…
  • Aims and shoots back, or…
  • Gun does nothing. The gun remains unfired in their hands.

What about the dropped weapon of a shot, severely wounded or dead compatriot?  Or enemy? A “drop dead gun,” just laying there. 

Hock-gun-cars

As the organizer, over-seer of these scenarios, as the “ref” if you will, I see so many things in all of these shoot-outs. I see things people really do when in various predicaments. These occurrences, these experiences are quite remarkable and extremely educational. And one of the many things I consistently see is teammates, running past and around their deeply wounded, still or dead, yet still armed partners. Whatever kinds of weapons we are using, Airsoft, gas, markers, Simuntions, whatever –  the training weapons we can get wherever I am – these guns run out of ammo, gas, power or break down at the damndest instances.

To aid in the failures, I so want to advise, “pick up THAT gun!” as they run by the fallen. Sometimes they have the time to do so. But, I do not want to bark orders or suggestions to interfere in the middle of the freestyle, firefight exercise. I’ve see many folks run right by other available guns and ammo. As an “invisible” ref, I wait until the after-action review to bring the subject up and next time? They still often forget to do it.

Once in a while I see a practitioner who instantly knows to snatch up his dead buddy’s gun. Either, it is something trained and remembered, or they are just that naturally gun-and-ammo-hungry to simply know this and do this instinctively. They swoop down and snatch up the weapon as they go by. This is an event that never happens in live fire range training, but rather could happen in real life, and should be bolstered in simulated ammo, scenario training whenever possible. I say oddly but, many video game players of complicated war games, obsess about collecting weapons and ammo as a mainstay, and are prone to thinking about picking up “leftover” weapons. I say oddly because they have readily absorbed a concept from a totally, abstract reality. 

I might remind quickly here, that weapons are sometimes attached to people by lanyards and slings, something that can be very life-saving for the original holder, but also may flummox your partner’s attempt to get your weapons once you are down and out. Know your partner’s gear. Look them all over. Know your team or squad mates stuff. Which leads us to different issued gear topics.Hock-gun-cars-4

Different gear? Different guns? Different ammo? In many organizations such as with the military or police, certain weapons are mandated for all in policy for good reason. If we all have the same guns, we all have the same ammo, magazines and we can pick up, exchange, provide, etc., weapons. It can make for good sense. I am not advocating for the “one-gun, one-ammo” policy, I am just reporting on it here. There is something to be said too for personalized guns and gear, too. 

When military people move into policing jobs, they often and should carry-on with them these overall concepts. Well, I mean, if you were an Army “clerk,” you might not have take this to heart, but people trained for dangerous jobs and have experienced danger are better carriers of this idea.

So often, citizens minus these background, may not consider this at all, or not have the deep heartfelt, burn, understanding of the concepts of gear and the weapon recovery. Shooting instructors of all types may never even know to suggest this topic. You must realize that you might be missing huge chunks of important tactics, topics, subjects and situations. You might instead begin to dwell deeper and deeper into repetitive, endless  “gun minutiae” within your teaching. Why are they stuck in this redundancy when there is so much more diverse combative situations with sims ammo to dissect and experiment with?

Such experiments are psychologically and neurologically proven better learning experiences. Many experts call it “deep learning” in “wicked” environments. In other words, simply put – get off the range and do these interactive, situational shoot-outs with simulated ammo.

Blackboard-weapon series

Active Shooters Talk Yet Again. Martial arts instructors, ones who appear to have zero gun, police and military experience or at best very limited exposures, have organized some active shooter response classes. There should be something of a newer concern and movement in this “pick up” weapon subject, as more people should contemplate picking up the guns of shot police, downed security, etc. This pick-up-off-the-ground could be practiced with live fire too, with little imagination.

Remember that when you snatch up another’s gun? You might well not know how many rounds are left in it! Oh, and in certain crime and war circumstances, when citizens pick up the dead guy’s gun and the authorities arrive? Do I need to remind you? You could look like the bad guy at first. You could be shot.  Phone in, act and surrender accordingly – well, the same rules as if you were armed in the first place should the authorities arrive.

Souvenirs Anyone? This discussion cannot be complete with the pick-up-weapon-souvenir concept. Usually after the battle? My father landed on the beach in WW II and made it all the way to Berlin in Patten’s army. He collected German Lugers and had a box of them mailed home. They never made it through the US Post Office. I recall in Vietnam era, folks trying to get AK-47s. Often though, in many wars, watch out!  Such things are BOOBY TRAPPED! 

Evidence! This a crime scene? Is the bad guy dead-dead. Control the scene for authorities or supervisors or crime scene people. Sometimes weapons are stolen by onlookers. Consider this and other problems before automatically, cavalierly picking up enemy guns (knives, etc.) Sometimes EMTs can really disorganize your organized crime scene, too.

In Some Kind of Summary. It has been my experience that if frequently suggested in a briefing and-or corrected in after-action reviews, many people may think of this when the action starts and the possibility arises. The more they do it in training? The better. Again the pick-up is very situational.

That gun may be dropped, but it ain’t dead. 

“If I die in a combat zone? Get my ammo, guns and gear and…continue to kill the enemy.”

More on this from Sheriff Jim Wilson, click here

***************************

Hock’s email is Hock@SurvivalCentrix.com

Get these Amazon, Kindle ebooks of sale for only $10

 

 

The Parable of the Wooden Gun

The Parable of the Wooden Gun

wooden gun 1 smaller

Wooden, rubber band guns. Why do I use them? Let me count the ways…

At seminars, police or others, I have seen and organized a whole lot of “force-on-force” style work-outs these last 26 years and without exaggeration, all over the world. This “FOF” nickname became popular in the later 1990s. The majority of these FOFs were and still are done with “no-shoot,” classic rubber guns. I have always preferred to use guns that shoot something VERY safely so we can get many repetitions tallied and a whole lot of “external focus” experience in.

I am a true-blue believer in the motto that “YOU are not fully learning gun combatives unless you are shooting at moving, thinking people who are shooting back at you.” And of course with simulated ammo…you learn quickly, that it sucks. Never stop working on marksmanship, dubbed by experts like Force Science as “internal focus,” but never forget this “external,” sucky part.

I have decided to only teach the interactive, external part. And due to travel, locations, expenses, safety, logistics, etc, I mostly use wooden, semi-auto, rubber band guns that shoot pretty straight for about ten feet to experiment with. Remember, if you do use gas guns or official SIMUNITIONS? They can break eyes, skin, windows, mirrors, chip room paint, bust ceilings and blow out lights, ding and dent cars, etc., etc.

“I thought simulated ammo is supposed to hurt!” One military vet told me years ago. In certain training exercises yes, like room clearances and so forth. There is certainly a time and a place for painful ammo. But there is also a time and place for pain-free ammo. A whole lot of time and a lot of places. I use the wooden, rubber band guns…that shoot something. 

In the 1990s I was laughed at in national training circles and ridiculed for using “toys.” In fact, even Airsoft (popular then in Japan) was considered toys back then. In my defense I never used toy-toys. I used these wooden, rubber band guns that fired multi-shots. There was little available and affordable to simulate any close, interactive shooting back then. By about 2000 or so cops worldwide were seeing my drills and buying a lot of these wooden guns from me for their repetition training. Of course, citizens too.

Easy. Safe. Quick. Great for lots of short, realistic vignette experimentation with lots of reps, anywhere. Anytime. (I even had life sized M-16s that shot very well at about 30 feet.) 

OKAY! “No-Shoot” Rubber Guns, versus “Do-Shoot” Wooden Guns. When it comes time to draw these classic rubber guns under stress, or when just fighting over them for a draw, and when one person gets free of the other enough to successfully pull, point and theoretically “shoot” the pistol at the partner/bad-guy, – this is what I have seen for years – these two participating folks just freeze and look at each other. Once in a while someone might yell “bang!” But they frequently just freeze. It’s over! They act like the scenario is over, like the fake trigger pulling part and the wounding or killing part is automatically over. No follow-up action needed, taken or practiced. Just…just freeze!

What Happens Next? In my great collection of “Ws & H” questions, one of the greatest questions is “WHAT happens next? Then next? Then next? Of course, it’s not over with the classic freeze. It’s not. I mean what can happen? The other guy surrenders, or is shot and wounded, or even if he receives a mortal shot, he can still shoot back, stab, fight back a bit, or fall upon the good guy with a weapon like a knife in his hand. Even if the attacker “surrenders,” if they surrender, do citizens know what to say or do next? Orderly or disorderly escape? “Citizen’s arrest,” so to speak? Often this never enters gun instructor’s minds. What happens next? The fight is not over with the mere pointing of a rubber gun. The freeze is totally unreal, incomplete and inadequate training.

The Trainer-Actor’s Part. The scenario IS NOT OVER! If the bad guy is shot, he or she should act like they are shot – it’s he trainer’s job!  But it helps the trainer to know where they were shot, to properly act-out responses. Impossible with classic rubber guns and no “bullets.” You need something that safely shoots, tens or even hundreds of times to get the reps in. The trainer doesn’t have to win the Oscar, but act out in common sense.

Light Beams? Somewhat popular these last few years are the SERT guns. To say “popular” might be a “financial” misnomer. They are about $225 to $500. They shoot light beams. They are very real in look, size and wright. Everybody knows about them but few can afford them. How many people do you know will afford to buy one? If you teach seminars, how many people show up with one? In my many year teaching experience, very, very few show up with SERT guns. $$$! And here’s the training rub, when battling with CQC force on force, the attacker-actor almost never knows where the light beam landed so they can simulate a leg shot, hip or gut shot, or throat shot, whatever. They always see, feel where the rubber band lands. Okay, SERT is neat for solo practice, but almost useless for me in the type of hardcore, close quarters drills I do. 

When Suggesting the Wooden Gun “Route”…I have often said to folks:     

“You like those rubber guns, huh?”     

“Yes.”     

“Hey, what would you think about wooden guns?”     

“Wooden guns?”     

“Yeah, using wooden guns shaped like your real guns, or shaped like your rubber guns?”     

“I guess that would be okay.”     

“Now, what if I told you…what if I told you that these wooden guns could shoot something? A safe something? Wouldn’t that be cool? You could do all the stuff you are already doing, and – you could actually pull the trigger shoot something and see if you could successfully, actually shoot the gun, hit your enemy while fighting, standing or on the ground. And multiple shots like a semi-auto. You wouldn’t have to stop when you pointed the gun. You could actually exercise pulling the trigger and aiming under stress, explore the next events. Anytime. Anyplace.”     

“I guess that would be smart. But we do that with Simunitions.”     

“How often?”     

“Oh, about once every two years.”     

“Two years?”     

“Sometimes more years than that. Some people never do it. ” 

“I know. Because you need special gear and a special location that won’t be destroyed by the Sims. Lots of set up and gear. Sometimes the setup and expense just pushes the workouts off and off. And who wants to be shot with Simunitions 30-40 times in one hour when working on an important scenario? What if I told you could use these wooden guns – which cost about 15 bucks each – anytime, anyplace, aiming, shooting with no safety gear, easy experimentation with moves and problems. You can get a lot done, safe, and cheap.

“I guess that would be okay.”

“I am talking about using wooden rubber band guns. I am not talking about giving up routine live fire. I am not talking about never using electric, gas or Sims again. I am not saying throw away your rubber gun. It too has uses. I am just talking about the potential of wood over rubber. I am talking about the easy, safe study of moves & shooting. I am talking about more access to important experimentation and reps. You are already using rubber. Why not wood? Why not wood that shoots something? Did I mention the wooden gun cost about $15?”

And a Safety Idea. Sometimes these gas guns look really real. Horrible switch mistakes can happen, especially after lunch (another long story) and they, rarely thank goodness, get into the classes. And, with wood, within the class, everyone can see instantly see that each other has a safe, light-colored, wooden, training gun. 

I can travel the entire world with a box of wooden guns without breaking ANY laws in any state or country. Can you with a suitcase full of gas guns? Sims guns? Easily? Effortlessly?  One more point for traveling practitioners and instructors, these wooden guns weigh almost nothing in your luggage.

In my External Focus Gun seminars, or regular mixed seminars of hand, stick, knife and gun, you will probably be shot 30 to 60 or so times a day as you work out with a good-guy or bad-guy partner in different situations. And very close up in standing, seated and ground situations. Battery powered guns will not damage the facilities (and will not hurt cars) but you still need some thick clothes and face protection. And I still can’t outfit all, half, or even a quarter of attendees with these guns and safety gear, and furthermore protect their walls, lights, windows and cars. Out come the wooden guns.

Don’t let your custom fit holster stop you from doing this training. I hear this complaint or excuse. Just get a real cheap “ol bucket,” universal holster for this type of training. The emphasis is on interactive goals about movements and fighting, and many skills more important than exactly how your replica pistol fits perfectly snug your custom fit holster. Rubber training guns don’t always fit into your custom holster, either. Yet people have persevered for decades with rubber gun training stuck in bad-fitting holsters. 

Where ever we are, lets move the ball downfield every chance we get. I know what folks are saying about Airsoft, that it is superior training in versatility. There are two kinds, 1) gas and, 2) electric-battery. With Airsoft, you still need eye protection and the pellets can still sting. (gas hurts more.) When you do a combat scenario like this one in the photo above, 10-15 times, then 3 more scenarios in the hour, you are shooting your friend, or being shot 45-70 times in just one or two hours. Close-up. Then add 4 or 5 hours to that. This becomes a “pain in the neck,” especially with Airsoft gas guns. Everyone in the whole room must have at very least eye protection but some people wear more and more safety stuff. Even with electric-battery Airsoft, this becomes a logistic-gear-expanding training endeavor. (I like to use electric-battery Airsoft around cars because cars will not be dented or hurt.) The higher quality sims gun? The less reps your people can stand for the basics. The more pain, less reps means way less experimentation and “muscle memory.

In Summary  Pain is not the only reason to have safer, ammo shooting gun. Not by a long shot, ducking pain is part of the training.  I would like to use the best gear in the best locations were we can ignore the destruction of people, buildings and vehicles. But that dream is both impractical and expensive for most of the places I travel to teach. I do the best I can, with what I can at the moment to move the learning ball down the field. A wooden pistol that shoots something and safely is better than a rubber gun that doesn’t. The wooden rubber band gun. It utterly harmless, still shoots semi-auto style and you get to see where your shots land. Totally superior to no-shoot, rubber gun. I ditched the rubber gun for a wooden one that at least shoots something. Why have a “shoot-less” rubber gun, some cost $50 or more, when you can get a wooden one for $15 that shoots something? 

And this is why I use them a lot. I think I have counted the ways.

 _________________

Get a safe ammo, wooden training pistol, click here

Hock’s email: Hock@SutvivalCenrtix.com

Each month, Hock adds a free, one-hour training film on his Youtube TV channel. Click here

 

man with stick