Sunday, July 3, 2011

Twenty-One Feet

A Warrior is one who is prepared for physical confrontation at a moments notice, but does not necessarily walk into one hoping it will happen. They are the one who has the focus and courage should the need arise in such a situation. Hand to hand combat and weapons training can come from any martial arts form. Where and how one chooses the type of martial arts they study is up to them, but all are relevant. I most prefer the practical method of Krav Maga which is Mixed Martial Arts for the streets, but my brother prefers tournament MMA and has studied Muay Thai and Kickboxing. Any type of hand to hand is beneficial to start on this path. Knowing how to fight if the need arises should be the top focus of your path.

That focus can expand out to include fighting in tournaments or even fighting in war for those Warriors who choose to serve in the armed forces. Serving as a soldier is not a prerequisite, but honorable nonetheless. Now hand to hand is pretty much a standard practice, but weapons training throws a whole new aspect into the mix. What weapons one chooses to focus on can easily depend on the individuals needs, practicality, whether they plan on utilizing the weapon in tournaments, actual combat or on a city street. I’m not going to go into the philosophical discussions of weapons versus no weapons or self-defense over martial arts (or action versus non-action when facing a dangerous situation). I’m just focusing on the benefit of weapons training in general.

As an Irish Reconstructionist I have a fascination with Irish Stick fighting a.k.a. Bataireacht. Such a practice would have been more than useful at the time of it’s dominance. Even today the study crosses over into many different realms because the stick itself can easily translate into any long object within reach. One could pick up a cane, a tree branch or a baseball bat and utilize the same techniques. Because of this there are endless applications such training could provide and if there was a teacher around here I would absolutely sign up for it. For now, I’ll just have to stick with the internet and the Doyle Irish Stick Fighting videos online.

There are those that would argue a true Warrior’s weapon would be the sword, but even the Japanese haven’t carried them into battle since World War II. That by no means discounts the study and practice of sword fighting or fencing, it simply means that such studies are much more for personal preference or even tournament specific and much less for practical applications. Let’s face it, it’s pretty hard to hide a sword for everyday carry and if you were wearing one I would have no doubt the police would be stopping you quite often. That’s not to say that a decent amount of destruction couldn’t be the result of a sword, but it is much more of a medium range weapon and wouldn’t be very useful in a street fighting setting or in a war where your opponent is likely to have a gun of some sort.

Just because swords are impractical in a real world scenario doesn’t mean that all blades are. I have a lot of respect for knives and I carry one as a back up frequently. The simple fact is that someone trained in knife retention and fighting as well as human anatomy can do a lot of damage in a little amount of time. In the book Tools of Violence McNab and Keeter reference an exercise by local law enforcement putting to the test guns vs knives. Within 21 feet a knife wielding assailant being surrounded by 5 police officers was able to do significant damage to 4 out of 5 before being taken down. In the Tueller Drill this same 21 feet is found to be covered by an attacker within 1.5 seconds. In this scenario you would rather be the one with the knife, but if that doesn’t happen hand to hand is the natural fall back. Acting, regardless of how sometimes, is better than making yourself an easy target.

Also in the blade’s defense, despite what Hollywood would want you to believe, even if someone were to be shot they don’t just drop to the floor and die. Adrenaline keeps you going and if you know what you are doing you could hit major arteries causing the deaths of your victims within 5 minutes of the initial cut even after you have been shot numerous times. Even someone lucky with a blade could hit an artery and kill someone after being shot a few times. Close combat is more than likely what you are going to be dealing with a lot of times, especially in a street fight. If there is one thing that all this information taught me it was to respect the importance of a blade.

With that said, someone with no training isn’t always a threat with a knife. There is that stigma that anyone with a knife should be feared, but think about it. Knives are not long range weapons. If this person is standing significantly outside of the 20 feet mark you may have a shot at running, at using a longer counter weapon like a bat or stick or even tackling them if you get a grip on the arm holding the knife. Someone not trained in knife combat could be flailing anything. The only thing that gives them an advantage is the blade itself and it would have to be a pretty lucky strike to take someone down quickly. Even a combat trained Marine outside of the 20 feet range leaves themselves open to any number of counter attacks. As Indiana Jones proved, even a trained swordsman can be taken down with a bullet.

I’ve heard the argument that guns are not a Warrior’s weapon. I have never understood this mentality. Old techniques should be respected, but weapons have evolved for a reason. To not evolve with them is asinine to say the least. In modern warfare, anything that shoots a projectile is pretty standard. If I’m walking down the street I’m more likely to get robbed at gun point than anything else. There are still those who might attack with a knife, but that isn’t statistically as common unless you’re getting prison shanked.

In my humble opinion, guns are a necessary weapon to understand. To understand them means one understands the modern weapon mentality. A gun can be used by any idiot. A two year old can pull the trigger on any standard Glock despite all of the “safeties.” A gun is a simple yet complicated weapon that if one doesn’t take the time to understand will have no idea how to act when one is pulled on them and in this day and age, it is a lot more likely than some people want to admit.

As was already demonstrated they are a long distance weapon. They are meant to be used as a deterrent or to keep someone a comfortable distance away, but the simple fact is an attack is more than likely going to start a lot closer than you are going to have time to grab any weapon. That is why hand to hand should always be the first place to start with any understanding of the limitations of any possible weapons that could be used against you. If you understand your opponents limitations than you can use them to your advantage, open the space up and hopefully get the distance to utilize your own weapon. As I practice, if they are close, take on the fight hand to hand, do as much damage as you can and run like hell practicing un-holstering your weapon as you run. I also recommend knowing how to clear a jam as well because if you are able to disarm your attacker or your own weapon gets compromised in a fight, but you are able to get it back you should always know how to clear the chamber so you don’t risk a jam if you need it later.

The average fight lasts 7 seconds and can go down any number of ways. A Warrior needs to be versed in as many weapons as possible. Even a basic amount of knowledge is better than nothing. If you know how to load and unload a handgun, clear the chamber and rack a new bullet after a fight then you have a leg up on your attacker. If you have training in stress based scenarios against an attacker who has never had a day of training in their life than the odds are in your favor that you will be the one walking away. Same with blade fighting. Know where the sweet spots are, know how to disarm your attacker and don’t be afraid of the knife.

I will always be a practicality girl. Studying other weapons like swords, spears or crossbows are great for nostalgia or reverence of the ancients, but will rarely help in a modern fight. In modern warfare and street combat know what your enemy will more than likely be carrying and know how to combat it. We train to not only fight, but to hopefully stay alive. This should be the ideal of any Warrior.

*Side note – while doing some looking around on the net I found a website I think would be of great interest especially in regards to this article. Feel free to check it out –

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