February 26, 2010

LaserLyte KA-BAR Pistol Bayonet

Sportsmans' Guide has put the LaserLyte KA-BAR Pistol Bayonet on sale:

There is just something wrong with this picture.

Photo of pistol bayonet on an orange Glock training pistol

Just try to get this atrocity into your inside-the-pants holster.

But seriously, just how useful is a pistol bayonet? Wouldn't you rather have a regular Ka-Bar, or better yet, a sharpened-up E-tool or 'Nam tomahawk for some up close and personal melee action?

I guess this could make your opponent bust up laughing so hard that he can't deliver a proper rifle butt strike upside your head. Especially if you whip out the international orange G17.

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December 10, 2009

Bruce Lee's Rules to Live By

Almost 10 years ago I covered the Bruce Lee: A Retrospective exhibit in San Francisco--at the time, the only exhibit of Lee's memorabilia and personal papers to date (there was a big exhibition in Seattle in 2003).

Lee was tremendously interested in the whole self-actualization, power of positive thinking, winning friends and influencing people thing. It was quite the rage during the 60s, and from a guy who was a philosophy major after all, such introspection would have been quite normal.

The exhibit had a small 3x5 card, with affirmations written by Lee in ballpoint pen. I wrote them down--these days you'd whip out your iPhone and take a photo of the exhibit in question, but back then you had to do things the old-fashioned journalist way, spiral notepad and all.

Here's what Lee wanted to remind himself:

  • You will never get any more out of life than you expect
  • Keep your mind on the things you want and of those you don't
  • Things live by moving and gain strength as they go
  • Be a calm beholder of what is happening around you
  • There is a difference a) the world + b) our reaction to it
  • Be aware of our conditioning! Drop and dissolve inner blockage
  • Inner to outer - we start by dissolving our attitude not by altering outer condition
  • See that there is no one to fight; only an illusion to see through
  • No one can hurt you unless you allow him to
  • Inwardly, psychologically, be a nobody

I guess if Lee were alive today he could've tweeted these to what I'm sure would've been an enormous rank of followers.

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November 18, 2009

Would Teddy Roosevelt Bow like Obama?

The blogosphere is all aflutter after Saturday's photos of President Obama bowing the the Emperor of Japan.

Obama grew up in Hawaii, so I'm sure he is attuned to a lot of Asian manners and protocols*. I'm sure he met some classmate's grandparents from the old country sometime way back when and followed someone's lead in greeting them with a bow.

Which got me thinking--what would Theodore Roosevelt, also a US President, also a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, also relatively well-versed in Japanese culture (certainly for a man of his time)--have done?

TR was an eager judoka, taking private lessons at the White House through much of 1904. TR also negotiated a truce to the Russo-Japanese War (earning the Nobel Peace Prize for it too).

Then again, everyone is quoting Roosevelt's quip, “If I see another king I'm going to bite him.”

I think TR would've shook the Emperor's hand if meeting him wearing a suit, as Obama did. Roosevelt was such the epitome of the American ideal, that he'd want to promote our country's democratic approach.

But TR would've bowed on the mat if they were wearing gi's. No matter what your "rank" is outside the dojo, you still need to show respect to your sempai. Regardless of the color of your belt or the other guy's.

*so, do the Obamas take off their shoes when going upstairs to the Residence of the White House?

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November 03, 2008

Presidential Martial Arts

After watching the presidential debates the past few weeks, which is essentially the only time we get to see the candidates "fight each other," I can't help but hope that someday we'll get a martial artist in the White House. The last one, I believe, was Theodore Roosevelt, and almost all of the chief executives we've had since pale in comparison.

Photo of Russian PM Putin practicing judo

Russia, after all, has Vladimir Putin,a judo black belt, Master of Sambo, ex-KGB spook who definitely knows a thing or two about arm-twisting. Putin has even offered to teach French president Nicolas Sarkozy some of his secret Soviet techniques. Last month French newspaper Le Figaro quoted Putin as saying, "He [Sarkozy] is interested in martial arts and we have decided to do some training together."

Maybe Sarkozy could teach Putin some mad how-to-snare-a-supermodel skills in return.

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April 02, 2008

More Weapons for the High Tech Warrior

Just ran across the Pirela Blade Design folks, who design and sell an amazing array of beautiful knives through famous custom makers. Guys like Greg Lightfoot, Allen Elishewitz, and Mick Strider. Don't know how I missed seeing this outfit earlier, esp. now that I've been following Peter Atwood's projects for some time now.

If they ever make the movie version of Snow Crash, they've gotta use some of these babies in the fight scenes. Somehow that carbonfiber laminate katana looks much more stylish than Blade's overdone Sword of the Day Walker.

Hiro's sword:

Photo of carbonfiber laminate katana

Strider's industrial-strength crash axe goes metrosexual:

Photo of carbonfiber laminate crash axe

Style and substance:

Photo of Custom Pirela knife

Blade Art:

Photo of Custom Pirela knives

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January 20, 2008

A Pen Mightier than an Empty Fist

Cold Steel, always finding new ways to make things out of glass-reinforced plastic (witness the Koga SD-1 yawara/sex toy mentioned earlier), now has their take on the "fighting pen".

Enter... the Cold Steel Sharkie.

Photo of Cold Steel Sharkie fighting pen

I've noted the Allen Elishewitz-designed Tactical Defense Pen before--a stout pen made from strong aluminum, designed for use as a kubotan. But at $79.99 you wonder what kind of statement this pen is trying to make. Sure, a Cartier or Montblanc would probably snap in two if you tried to use one as a pressure-point weapon, but $80 is a lot more than what most folks spend on a pen.

Now there's a downmarket version--even looks like a permanent marker, so if you're caught with one in the urban setting people will just think you were using it to tag things.

Now this is pretty innovative stuff. I'll get my hands on one (hah!) and put it to a review test soon.

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January 04, 2008

Reflective Shields for the Modern Ninja

If you remember the classic text Ninja Secrets of Invisibility by Ashida Kim (and what student of 80's martial arts doesn't?) you'll remember fanciful techniques of distraction and deception that could be used to become "invisible".

Ashida Kim, the nom de plume of a Caucasian guy from Florida, penned a bunch of books that taught would-be ninja how to hide from sentries, sneak up on victims, and wield all sorts of funky weapons (that mail order houses like Dolan's Sports and AWMA were eager to sell you).

TheShadowShield (spacing is theirs) seems like something that would've been perfect for that era, but is really a serious product.

Tactical officers firing long arms from behind reflective tactical shield

Essentially a big lightweight mirror, the Shadow Shield reflects the surrounding foilage back at the viewer, allowing the user to hide behind it.

Before you say, "...yeah, right...", the company's FAQ has already covered your skepticism:

Can you use TheShadowShield in bright sunlight?

Yes. If the sun is to your left or right shoulder, it will cast a shadow away from the shield so the shield can be used.

Will animals or perpetrators see themselves in TheShadowShield?

TheShadowShield only reflects yards in front of itself. The shield is engineered to carry at the perfect angle to the ground.

I don't think this would be that useful for paintball or Simunitions gaming, but if you train where you have to account for every shot downrange (as you should in real life) this concealment shield wouldn't be compromised by marker shots.

Now what these guys really need to do is put a ballistic layer on the inside and make this cover, not just concealment.

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November 13, 2007

Atwood on eBay

Peter Atwood put his first tactical folding knife for sale on eBay. The thing looks monstrous, as if the Terminator ordered a custom Strider folder:

Photo of Atwood folder

I thought it was exceptionally cool how Atwood purposely titled his listing just "knife" rather than "ATWOOD Custom Folding Knife RARE NEW One of a Kind" or something like that. He could've easily doubled his final value through more search hits from the usual eBay bargain hunters. But instead he limited the auction just to customers and fans who knew he was posting it--definitely a class act.

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May 18, 2007

Limited Ability Training

My arm is still busted, and besides compensating by doing most everything with my left arm, I'm reviewing ways to keep training.

Six years ago I wrote about limiting yourself on purpose to get more out of training.

Funny thing is, now that I'm reviewing the old articles from my About site, is that this same thing happened before. And like that time (probably the same elbow too) my ego got in the way and I didn't tap out soon enough. Tsk tsk.

There are some drills that make training worthwhile even if you are one-armed. Like when you're sparring with junior partners who you'd beat easily if you were 100%, but now can give you a good challenge in your currently limited self.

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April 24, 2007

What should you do if you're confronted with a gun-wielding madman?

Slate joins in the monday morning quarterbacking fray with their article Fight or Flight at Virginia Tech.

Usually articles like this in mainstream press, greenlit by an editor wanting to jump in on the media frenzy for topical content, are glaring in their lack of realistic tactical or martial arts awareness.

Luckily they consulted a couple of "knowledgeable sources", a Krav Maga instructor from the KM LA headquarters, representing the new hotness Israeli counter-terrorist doctrine, and the leader of EPI, representing the old school ex-cop-as-bodyguard faction.

The advice is as good as it can be, given the short article length given to Slate's "Explainer" column. I think it's more along the lines of the articles written after 9/11 about fighting back on a terrorist-commandeered aircraft. If you know you don't have much of a chance anyway, why not charge the bad guy with a carafe full of hot coffee? But in a terrestrial situation, you have the possibility of slipping out a window--and the article does cover that option, albeit in passing.

Interestingly enough, the article doesn't mention the first rule of a gunfight--to fight back armed with a gun. Don't know if this is a reflection of the magazine's editorial bent or an understanding that most Slate readers aren't CCW holders (which, after all, would drive a particular editorial bent).

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February 27, 2007

Ballistic Evasion

Did a workout with my sifu Dave last night for the first time in weeks. [you can insert snide comment on slacking here]. Did a kicking set that got a little intense, at least for my out-of-shape self.

So being hampered by a lack of true fighting fitness, I couldn't evade as many kicks as I hoped to. A lot of our doctrine centers around not blocking an attack but using timing and movement to avoid the blow, or using a counterforce to move it past your vital points. Some call this "sticky hands", but we also incorporate it during kicking sets as "sticky feet".

But I couldn't make it happen. Instead, I found myself catching a lot of blows.

This is not good when your opponent outweighs you by 100 pounds.

Gradually I started "going with the flow". I couldn't avoid the impact, but I could ride along with it in the same direction of the force, so that it wouldn't hurt so much. This "ballistic evasion" worked for minimizing damage, but not so great overall.

Problem then became getting back into the tempo of the set. I've mentioned the OODA Loop, or Observe, Orient, Decide, Act cycle as stages in each exchange of blows in previous articles. But if you're spending time riding out the force of a blow, you're not setting up your next attack, and as such you end up being half a beat or a full beat behind your opponent.

In the end, I took a knee in the nerve center on the side of the thigh (similar to the classic Thai boxing move) that put me down for a couple of minutes. I don't really want to think about what a full-power version of that strike would feel like.

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January 18, 2007

Training Weaponry for Budo Practice

Martial artists are always trying to increase training realism without hurting their training partners. If you're a hardcore iron shirt practitioner, you could do things the Dog Brothers way, where you use regular weapons and just wear gloves and fencing masks (and maybe a cup) to protect the important bits. But the resulting doctor bills (and gallons of dit da jow) get pretty expensive.

So a Google ad for "LARP Latex Weaponry" caught my eye. Wasn't sure if it was a NSFW "fetish" link, but turns out these companies make realistic-looking weapons for people who play Live Action Role Playing (LARP) games. I guess this is the whole Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) crowd all grown up.

Photo of latex sword from Knighthawk ArmouryPhoto of latex war hammer from Knighthawk Armoury

Images from Knighthawk Armoury

These products are a few generations ahead of the old PVC pipe-and-duct tape contraptions that the SCA folks used to fight with back in the old days. Priced accordingly, too, at about $100 a pop.

The realistic look of the latex weapons give them a little extra realism than, say, the "air-soft" chucks, swords, and bo staffs of chanbara. With the chanbara "tools" you know you're using a padded object, and there are no defined "edges". Thus, you don't bother to use cutting strokes after impact (or even pay attention to where the cutting edge is).

Dull-edged "trainers" are now very commonplace these days--just about any "tactical" knife is also available as an OEM trainer, with dulled edges and tip and skeletonized blade. Such versions of my favorite Spyderco Delica have a red handle, mimicking the ASP RedGuns, to denote its training function:

Probably the ultimate in training weaponry is the Shocknife, which gives your opponent a little zap if you make contact. How much? Up to 7,500 volts but less than 1 milliamp. Think flea-market stungun. The company's tagline, "The only training knife capable of inducing fear!" makes sense, although I don't like getting tagged with a Spyderco or Benchmade trainer either.

The ultimate would be just for all of us martial artists to get mutant regenerative powers like Wolverine, so we could go all out and just snap right back. I'm lucky if I can haul my ass out of bed the morning after a tough workout.

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December 01, 2006

Light As a Weapon, Times Two

Actually, make that times 5000 or so. A while back I wrote an article for the
Martial Arts site
on Light-Based Weapons. The article mostly considered the blinding aspects of high-powered flashlights like the excellent SureFire and its competitors.

Now someone has overclocked a flashlight into a fire-starting ray of destruction:

Extreme Geek: The Fire Starter Flashlight

The inventor cites the amazing Osram Sylvania EVA 64623 HLX Bulb as the core of the solution.

Weird, though, how Amazon.com categorized the Osram product into "Musical Instruments". Maybe if you look too much at the light the pounding in your head from the pain approaches a 4/4 beat.

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November 14, 2006

Getting a Kung Fu Grip, revisited

A while back I wrote about increasing grip strength, citing the Honolulu Heart Program's study showing grip strength directly proportional to life expectancy.

Well, the study has been updated recently, now with 40 years of data, and yep, grip strength is still an indicator of longevity.

Some of this might be experimental bias--grip strength is really easy to sample, given the variety of apparatus out there. Subjects don't even need to disrobe. There are even versions for lab mice. Luckily grip strength is proportional to upper body strength, so it works ok as a metric.

Someone needs to invent a mouse that includes grip strength training--think of a Gripmaster with optical tracking.


Now that would be a Mighty Mouse.

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October 20, 2006

This Pen's Mightier than a Sword

Less-lethal options are becoming much more popular these days, as manufacturers mine the wealth of historical martial arts weaponry for ideas.

In my Return of the Yawara post, I described how Cold Steel brought back the 1960s "evil fighting stick" with the Koga SD series. Cold Steel's new "mini" model seems much more businesslike than the "adult novelty" (ahem) look of the original SD1:

photo of Cold Steel Koga SD2

The yawara of the 1960s is, like its cousin the kubotan, based on the koppo stick and tessen-jutsu techniques of medieval Japan.

Photo of kubaton key ring

Virtually any small-diameter, rigid stick works with these fighting arts, and a lot of martial artists carry small flashlights, like the venerable Mini MagLite, for this purpose.

Photo of Mini MagLite flashlight

The latest wrinkle in koppo stick design is the new defensive pens. Made of hard alloy, with strong business ends, these are designed to be easily accessed and legal to carry.

Photo of Mil-Tac TDP-1 Pen

Mil-Tac's TDP-1 is designed to be a working writing pen, PDA stylus, and if the need arises, a handy koppo stick. Designed by Allen Elishewitz, responsible for many great Benchmade designs, this pen looks all business. It seems a bit pricey at $99 though. But would you want to break your $130 MontBlanc, or worse, your $700 Cartier on some perp's hard head? Didn't think so.

According to Craig Sword, Mil-Tac's founder (and yes, that's his name), "one end is pointed, which could be used as a very effective defense tool, while the other end is blunt and could be used as a control device. Not only is this pen designed to be used as a defense tool and writing instrument but it also has a very attractive appearance and can also be used as a PDA stylus or pen." I always dig multipurpose things ("It's an axle grease, and a dessert topping!")--makes you feel like your gear is more capable or something.

Hard to say if this pen would be permissible through security checkpoints. It is just a pen, after all, albeit one that's rather robust in construction. Unlike other similar products that have a hidden knife or canister of pepper spray inside, this one is just a pen--no blade or chemical weapon (unless you count the ink).

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September 18, 2006

Jet Li Gives Up his Sword

The New York Times reports on Jet Li's retirement from kung fu movies:

It’s apparent that when he says his latest movie will be his swan song as a martial arts star, he really means only that he will no longer practice on screen the traditional wushu of masters like Huo Yuan Jia, no longer presume to represent the art at its highest level. This is not so different, actually, from what Mr. Baryshnikov did 15 years ago, when he retired from ballet but continued performing in the less demanding idiom of modern dance.

So does this mean that Jet Li will now be relegated to the straight-to-video market, like Dolph Lundgren, Stephen Seagal, Jeff Speakman and Jean Claude Van Damme? I doubt it--even Cradle 2 the Grave got to be in the theaters--if only for a few weeks.

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August 28, 2006

Rule One: All Guns are Always Loaded

The US Army has a new program to increase firearms safety. New recruits were getting sent overseas so fast, they didn't have much time to familiarize themselves with proper gun safety habits, and so were accidentally shooting each other once deployed.

photo of M16A2 battle carbine from US Army training manual

from the AP article:

Soldiers such as Pvt. Kenneth Dykeman, 21, of Portland, Ore., carry their gun to class, physical training and even have it nearby as they sleep. At night, Dykeman keeps his weapon under his mattress, with the rifle's magazine in his locker.


Even in the training environment, soldiers are required to keep a round of ammunition in their chambers and clear their guns before entering any building.

Looks like the Army is taking a lesson from Jeff Cooper's "enhanced" Rules of Firearm Safety. Most folks know them as follows:

Rule 1: Treat all guns as if they were loaded.
Rule 2: Never point a gun at something you don't want a hole in (your TV, your dog, your foot)
Rule 3: Finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
Rule 4: Be sure of your target, what's behind your target, and its surroundings.

Cooper's version of Rule One is as follows: "All guns are always loaded."

For those of us used to "cold" ranges, where guns are unloaded except at the firing line, this is kind of freaky, but it really seems to make sense, and is being proven so by the new Army doctrine.

If everyone knows every gun they see is loaded, they'll be extra-careful around the guns, especially their own. OK, they're not issuing real ammo until they get deployed into the field, but even blanks can do some pretty bad things (c.f. Jon Erik Hexum).

The Army says this program has reduced accidental discharges (AD's) considerably.

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August 22, 2006

Ninjas are Back and Cuter Than Ever

The ninja craze petered out as the UFC ground-and-pounded its way onto the martial arts scene in the 1990s. But ninjas are making a comeback. This time, they're not just silent, deadly, and mysterious, but oh so cute!

Image of Wee Ninja plush toy designed by Shawn Smith

For example, consider the Wee Ninja from designer Shawn Smith. This little bad boy comes in "Wee" (10x9 inches) and "Pocket" (5x5 inches) sizes.

Aren't these so much cooler than that sappy "Little Dragons" crap?

Smith even has a whole back story, illustrated in Smith's Keith Haring meets Peter Max style, entitled "Ninjatown".

Image of Ninjai

This trend isn't new, however. The Flash cartoon Ninjai: The Little Ninja has been a cult phenomenon on the Web for a few years now, and has limited distribution through Atom Films and G4TV.

Now only if TMNT will come back! Heck, Power Rangers are still going strong, right?

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July 13, 2006

Zidane's Head Butt Fu

So the sports world is all abuzz about French soccer hero Zineidine Zidane's head butt of opponent Marco Materazzi in the recent World Cup final.

TV screen capture of Zidane head butt

Sure, the head is used a lot in soccer, and maybe that's why you see head butts on the soccer field, but the headbutt isn't a great martial arts technique.

It's hard to practice.

We don't practice head butts in our training sessions, just because it's usually an up-close, in yo face (literally) move, to be done when you're clinched and thus have your hands, elbows, knees, and legs busy. Not like you can use any other appendage as a weapon in such cases.

There are better techniques to use

And in such situations, we'd probably bite the other guy's ear or nose off. I do practice this in a grappling round and with my mouthguard on I won't maim my training partner, but he will get the hint that I'm not totally weaponless.

Mike Tyson certainly subscribes to our vale tudo doctrine in that regard.

But as a technique used in open maai, meaning at kicking range? Why not just throw a nice front kick, or a spinning back kick, using the heel (with your spikes) as the impact point?

My theory is that Zidane wanted to give Materazzi a little love tap but didn't want to do anything really flagrant, like kick the guy in the balls or something. It's one thing to be tossed out of the game, and another to get tossed out of the sport.

Far better though, would've been for Zidane to do something to show his indignation but still make Materazzi look like the cad. Too bad no one had a handbag handy--he could've had a funny allusion to that other weird euro-football sport, rugby.

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June 07, 2006

Hey you kids! Get off my lawn!

The idea of blaring uncool music to deter teenage loiterers has been around for a long time now. Classical music is the, er, classic choice, whereas Aussie shopkeepers are now resorting to Barry Manilow hits.

(What, those kids Down Under don't go for Copacabana, over and over and over again? Tsk tsk.)

At some point, musical tastes will come full circle and this will backfire. Like how Cadillac's TV commercials use Led Zeppelin songs now. Even Johnny Rotten is 50 this year.

The latest hi-tech method, the UK's Mosquito, uses a frequency that kids can hear but us old farts can't. Talk about your market segmentation. According to press reports, Mosquito's sound is unbearable to the younger set but old folks are perfectly oblivious.

This biological targeting works both ways, though. Some enterprising youths use the Mosquito sound as their ringtone, so they can receive calls while in class and the old fogie teacher won't be any wiser. Great way to order a pizza, a la Jeff Spicoli.

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May 30, 2006

Urban Samurai in NY Times

The New York Times profiles their local kendo dojo, in Sunday's Lifestyle piece:

Swords and Shouts Next Door, but Don' t Call 911

Something about this piece, and especially how it made it to digg.com, was really Ric Romero-esque, as if this centuries-old sport was relatively new.

It's been a world-wide sport for many years now--just check out my coverage of the 11th Kendo World Championships. Felt just like the Olympics.

Photo from the 11th World Kendo Championships

Best quote from the NYT article, on when the sensei's wife returned from Japan:

She had just flown in from Japan, and after weeks of separation, the spouses reunited not by embracing, but by exchanging blows to the head and shoulders.

Heh. Isn't that how it always is?

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May 26, 2006

More on Gun Grabbing

In my last post I lambasted writer Tom Grace for adding a gun takeaway scene to his action-adventure thriller Quantum, saying that it would be impossible to prevent a cocked Glock from firing by merely grasping the gun's slide.

I take that back--if you moved the slide out of battery, you could prevent the gun from firing because the internal levers would no longer be aligned--the striker wouldn't be able to transfer the impact to the firing pin and then on to the primer of the chambered cartridge.

But that would take some real presence of mind to do in a split-second gun takeaway move. You'd have to be Jet Li in Lethal Weapon 4, field-stripping Mel Gibson's Beretta 92 right before his eyes.

I think most martial artists can't even begin to compare themselves with Jet Li. So again, don't try this at home.

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May 25, 2006

Bad Glock Tricks - Reading List Thus Far

After finishing Double Whammy by Carl Hiaasen, I decided to switch gears and go back to some techno-thriller action.

But Quantum by Tom Grace turned out to be not up to par. I'm usually not the type to give up on novels--I've never walked out on a movie, for example--but I was hoping for more. Grace was doing fine with suspending belief on some big ideas--like breaking the First Law of Thermodynamics.

But I drew the line when he got the combat and gun-handling totally wrong. In the opening action scene, the hero grabs the bad guy's Glock and by firmly grasping the slide prevents it from firing. DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME.

Most sensible martial artists won't try this sort of thing anyway, but here's how to do a gun takeaway. Double-action handguns require two motions to occur before they can fire--the cocking of the hammer and the falling of the hammer onto the firing pin. The trigger pull drives both motions.

So if you're a real bad-ass martial artist, you could potentially block the hammer from moving back in the first place by closing your grip over the hammer. Hammer doesn't move? Weapon won't fire. Revolvers rotate the cylinder while moving the hammer, and so if you grasp the cylinder really firmly you can prevent the hammer from going back, even if your hand isn't anywhere near the hammer.

Got all that?

But Grace's hero does this gun-grasp move on a Glock, which does not have an external hammer. It has an internal striker, which isn't grabbable. Try this move on a Glock, or any cocked weapon, revolver or pistol, and the gun-wielder gets at least one shot off. Maybe into your chest.

You might be able to mess up the second shot though--if you prevent the gun's slide from moving correctly, you can cause a jam. So maybe the bad guy doesn't get to do a double-tap. Lucky you.

I was ready to let that one slide (no pun intended), but then a few pages later Grace has a cop confiscating the hero's scrounged Glocks, and then "checking the safeties". Glocks don't have external safety levers, other than that little flange embedded in the trigger itself. Excruciating!

Public service announcement to all fiction writers: There are a number of good resources to learn about firearms and martial arts for when you're writing action scenes in fiction. The NRA puts out a good book, but if that's too Republican for you, check out the book by Writers' Digest, which while still not authoritative, is better than nothing.

So I turned back to Carl Hiassen, and started Basket Case. You know how your Creative Writing professor would always try to tell you the difference between good writers and great writers? Hiassen's work is consistent and inventive, and, great.

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May 19, 2006

What's In a Name? Jail Time?

In my last post I joked about wielding the in-yo-face named "Death Stick Nail Exhumer" cats paw as a weapon--how it might not look that great in court afterward.

This is something that firearms writer Mas Ayoob discusses a lot--the legal aspects of using a weapon in self-defense. Like it's better to go confront the bad guy with a "Gold Cup National Match" target pistol (even if it is a 1911 .45 ACP, and thus an "evil" semiautomatic) than a 12 gauge "Streetsweeper".

Photo of stainless steel Colt Gold Cup 1911 pistol

Photo of Striker 12 gauge shotgun

Benchmade probably thought of this when they started calling the old standby AFCK the "Advanced Folding Camp Knife" instead of the fighting knife it originally was marketed as.

Purchase the Benchmade AFCK at Amazon.com

Spyderco is pretty good about their naming, preferring the quality of the product to speak more than some badass-sounding name. Even their most wicked-looking knife, the favorite EDC of Hannibal Lecter, is named the Civilian:

Purchase the Spyderco Civilian at Amazon.com

My favorite Delica, of course, is just a modest pocketknife. Really.

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May 15, 2006

"Be Able to Kill Your Students"

Words of wisdom from the "last ninja", Masaaki Hatsumi, printed in a ton of daily newspapers across the US last week:

Be Able to Kill Your Students

The AP story discusses the lack of a successor to Hatsumi's stewardship of Toshitsugu Takamatsu's legacy. Whatever happened to Stephen K. Hayes, who back in the early 80's was the only American teaching Hatsumi's doctrine, and thus rode the ninja craze to fame and fortune? Hayes has a page about his relationship with Sensei Hatsumi on his SKH site, but he doesn't seem to identify himself with "that ninja stuff" anymore.

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April 14, 2006

Tactical Clipboard

The Barrier Shield folks finally have their own website, aptly named BarrierShield.com, having previously only lived on reseller ALD Company's web catalog for some time.

Photo of Barrier Shield

This thing is reminiscent of medieval bucklers, albeit a cross-cultural meld with the right-angle tonfa handle. I wrote an About.com article on the tonfa as a police weapon, and this shield seems like a logical extension of that idea.

Now they should make it out of ballistic polycarbonate, so that it can withstand firearms too.

And how about making it into a clipboard, so you have it with you all the time? Might have to make that obvious enable-striking handle a bit more public-friendly, though.

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March 16, 2006

Free Kung Fu on AOL TV

Finally doing something with all that classic Time Warner content stuffed away in a subterranean vault under some nameless Utah mountain range, AOL is putting up classic TV episodes for your retro viewing pleasure--including classic "Kung Fu".

Kung Fu

List of episodes:

King of the Mountain
Dark Angel
Blood Brother
An Eye for an Eye
The Tide
The Soul Is the Warrior
Nine Lives
Ancient Warrior

See for yourself. Is David Carradine as good a martial artist as Chuck Norris is an actor?

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March 10, 2006

Now That's an Axe!

Remember that scene in Crocodile Dundee where the Croc-ster faces off a switchblade-wielding street hood by whipping out his 12" bowie? (That's a knife, silly reader--get your mind out of the gutter).

Now here's an example of one tough axe:

Strider CR

photo of Strider Knives CR2 axe

Strider's writeup of this baby is in the usual Mick Strider style: straightforward, no bullshit:

The CR is designed to be a hard substance destruction tool.

The materials and construction are intended to give optimum impact and prying strength.

The CR works as a system. The base of which is a .285” thick 6AL4V titanium head, with .775” thick cantilevered S7 impact bits. S7 is an incredibly strong material, most commonly seen on “Jackhammer” bits.

In addition to removing bolt stress, this cantilever action also allows for a multi strike action of the bits. The initial strike is achieved with human force by swinging the tool against a surface. The secondary strike is caused by the inertial force of the collapsing cantilever system. By using this system, the axe is actually working as a human powered Jackhammer.

I just finished Bernard Cornwell's Vagabond, second book in the Grail series, and found the depictions of technology during the Hundred Years War fascinating. What if you built old tech, like trebuchet and crossbows, using modern materials like carbon fiber and titanium? This would be a fine weapon for the days of men-at-arms and plate armour.

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March 09, 2006

FrameMaker and Tang Soo Do

Holy cow, I never thought I'd be able to do a cross-category blog title like that one. Framemaker and Tang Soo Do in the same post? Talk about your single sourcing!

Anyway, turns out that Kay Ethier, Frame guru, DITA 2006 conference organizer, and co-author of the XML Weekend Crash Course, has kids taking TSD, and wanted them to learn their mahki from their chagi. Framemaker to the rescue, of course. A judicious application of some Frame single-sourcing fu and voila, one instant book + CD set.

Learning Korean: Martial Arts Terminology

Between Frame-enhanced Tang Soo Do and Springfield's XML tactical handgun light, there are a lot of choices now for tech doc folks who want to kick some butt.

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February 21, 2006

Todd Hays Out of Medal Round

During the last Winter Olympics I wrote a profile of Todd Hays, er, Todd "Hollywood" Hays, former NHB fighter turned bobsled driver. Hays did well at the Salt Lake games, but finished 7th this time around.

Photo of Todd Hays courtesy USOC, used with permission

I still think Hays should've kept up the whole kickboxing thing. The media coverage made a big deal about the hotdoggin' skier who is going to try out for the NFL as if that guy's two-sport prowess was extraordinary. But I'll bet Hays can still kick his ass. And that's what counts, right?

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February 13, 2006

Springfield's XML Tactical Light

I'm implementing an XML-based authoring environment for my employer, and as I also write about martial arts-related topics, I found Springfield Armory's new "XML Tactical Light" rather funny.

Jeff Cooper comments on the use of "tactical" and "digital" as appelations for products to make them sound sexier, without the products themselves actually being better than the garden variety:

I have always been interested in words but I cannot remain on top of the situation. Take, for example, this adjective "digital." I have asked around at length and I have yet to find anyone who knows what it means. In common usage it signifies "better" or "best," but for reasons unknown to the user. I have yet to see advertised a digital burgundy, or a digital laxative, or a digital South Sea island cruise, but I await the day. Possibly if Steyr Mannlicher had advertised the Scout as a digital Scout, they might have pushed the sales of the weapon into economic success.

[I don't really want to know what a digital laxative would be, given that most doctors and nurses have 5 digits on each hand. Turn your head and cough now.]

I've seen similar things when XML was just starting to catch on--before everyone really used it, you'd see tools advertised as "XML ready" or "works with XML". Like Microsoft Word, for example, which may or may not be truly useful for anything to do with XML.

But now we have gunlights marked "XML". Maybe my DITA XSL transformations might run faster if I hold them at gunpoint?

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January 16, 2006

Chuck Norris Random Fact Generator

I've been playing with the Chuck Norris Random Fact Generator. Kind of a Comedy Central-meets-Hot or Not? site, it cranks out a random Chuck fact with every click.

Most are just crap (and you can rate them so), but there are a few gems, like:

Chuck Norris once roundhouse kicked the earth, thus creating the hole in the ozone layer.


Every night at 8:00, a truck pulls up to Chuck Norris' house. In the truck are a bunch of orphans. For the next half-hour, Chuck Norris practices roundhouse kicks on the orphans while "It's a Hard Knock Life" plays in the background. At the end of the session, the orphans say "Thank you, Mr. Norris." in perfect unison, then march into the truck in silence.

I always thought Norris' fave kick was the hook or spinning back kick, but then again, "roundhouse" sounds funnier.

And then there's all the Chuck Norris nostalgia merchandise now:

Image of Chuck Norris holding Uzi submachine gun on tshirt

I gotta get me one of these shirts.

In the meantime, I guess I'll just have to settle for one of the Top 5 Chuck Norris Movies.

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December 01, 2005

Farewell, Mr. Miyagi

Pat Morita's recent passing marks the end of an era--he was one of the first Asian actors to really break out of the stereotypes and carve out an (hate to say it, but it's true) honorable niche for themselves. No more Hop Sing characters, or Charlie Chan, or Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Morita played his roles with charm and character and respect, and it was great to see him doing so well.

When I put The Karate Kid on my list of Top Influential Martial Arts Movies of All Time, people wrote in to complain. WTF? they said.

But when you think about that era, when Ralph Macchio actually got gigs and before Elizabeth Shue became a Vegas hooker, The Karate Kid really got mainstream America to jump on the martial arts train. Martial arts weren't exotic, or just for Asians, or weird--they're a good, wholesome family pastime.

I think martial arts have taken a turn for the better with the relatively recent ascent of the reality fighting genre. Now that the UFC and it's ilk are mainstream, there's a return to the more martial aspects of martial arts, and that's what they're named for, right?

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November 18, 2005

Campus Safety for Teen Girls

ABC's Primetime show aired a segment on campus security for young coeds. The piece was rather alarmist--made me feel like I couldn't send my kid to college unless she had a Chelsea Clinton-esque posse of Secret Service guys following her around.

I wrote about this issue in my Back to School Security article. I think awareness and defensive tactics training can go a long way toward making your kid (and your kid's parents...) feel safe.

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November 16, 2005

Get Ready for Atlatl Hunting Season

Duck season, rabbit season, atlatl season.

When I first saw this, I thought, "why would anyone want to hunt those cute Mexican salamanders? I mean I support hunting and all that, and even prairie dog shooting doesn't bother me, but man, those little axolotl's will be dead meat."

photo of axolotl in aquarium

But no, this refers to the use of the good old throwing stick (and really old, like Cro Magnon shit and stuff).

photo of atlatl chambered prior to throwing

The great state of Pennsylvania is about to set standards for hunting game with an atlatl. They liken it to hunting boars with spears, or good ol' bowhunting (Bo and Luke Duke, anybody?).

I think this is great. Preserving ancient technologies and history in this modern age is really important--kids these days might know the best spin strafe move in a first-person shooter video game, but won't know, perhaps even conceptually, how to start a fire without matches ("uh, like, do you use a lighter, man? My dad's got a Zippo").

Even better if people learn to make their own atlatls. Although I see from the press that the commercial atlatl armorers are already ramping up production. Can't wait until the carbon fiber models are available. Oh, I mean the "tactical" atlatls. And if they can make them digital too, well heck, sign me up!

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November 10, 2005

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword?

I've been seeing a resurgence in stun gun products, mostly due to the new "pen" form factor:

photo of 3 stun gun pens

Not like this really helps. I wrote about the effectiveness of stun guns in my article on less-lethal weaponry and their use in a force continuum. I still think they're lame.

If you're close enough to someone to touch them with a pen stun gun, why not just poke them in a pressure point with a real pen? (Former or current residents of our nation's penal system will know that a sturdy pen or a simple No. 2 pencil, given a good sharpening, is a lethal weapon, but such implements are pretty innocuous to us folks on the Outside).

Pepper spray is much more useful, due to the maai or distance factor. The pen-form factor pepper spray is old hat these days. But how much range do you get from the perfume mister delivery mechanism?

photo of pepper spray pen

Now the stun gun thing could come in handy if it was merely an option on an electronic device you're already carrying all the time. Like your cellphone or PDA. You already have electrical power, and a reason to be holding it in your hand/carrying it on your belt.

It could even be just a software/firmware hack. Like you cause the battery to discharge through the charging port at the base of the handset. I'm surprised Make hasn't tried this yet.

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August 17, 2005

Use a Knife...Go to Prison?

I've been following this Pring-Wilson case on CourtTV's Web site. In summary, this pretty Harvard boy got voluntary manslaughter instead of murder when used his "Spyderco military knife" to stab Michael Colono, a young Latino teen father. Now he's out on bail awaiting a new trial, because the law now says the court can consider Colono's history of run-ins with the cops.

The story is that Colono and his cousin Sam Rodgriguez made some comments about Pring-Wilson's drunken state outside a Cambridge MA pizza shop, they got into a fight, and Colono got stabbed five times.

What should you learn from this? Obviously, to walk away from bullshit confrontations where people shoot off their mouths. And just as you shouldn't drink and drive or drink and dial (like that embarassing scene in Sideways) you shouldn't drink and stab.

What are the laws concerning use of a lethal weapon in self-defense in your municipality? Mas Ayoob covered some of these issues in his book In the Gravest Extreme, but that text is about 30 years old now.

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August 01, 2005

Man stabs five people outside Dodger Stadium after game

Who called baseball a sissy game?

Man stabs five people outside Dodger Stadium after game

Associated Press: LOS ANGELES - A man is wanted for allegedly stabbing five people outside Dodger Stadium in a dispute over the sale of counterfeit T-shirts following the Dodgers' loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, police said early Monday.

Wow. This one guy did so much damage? Good factoid to keep in mind when practicing those knife disarms or knife-vs-knife drills.

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July 21, 2005

Wax on, Wax off. On DVD

DVD Savant has a totally funny review of the Karate Kid Special Edition DVD. Talk about "tellin' it like it is".

The Karate Kid was one of my "Top Ten Most Influential Martial Arts Movies." Say what you will about the movie, but I think it influenced the boom of the martial arts in the USA in real terms as much as Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon. Just in a different way.

It's The Karate Kid that is responsible for such things as Junior Black Belts, and Little Dragons programs at your local YMCA. So now you know who to blame.

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July 08, 2005

Karate Makes it to the Olympics...Almost

So the IOC kicked softball and baseball out of the London Olympics. Too bad, because it would've been fun to see Japan pull its all-stars out of the US league teams to field a kick-ass national squad. So much for the American pastime, huh?

Instead, they looked at some other replacement sports, including karate. But in a political mess, here's what happened, according to AP:

In a farcical display of bureaucracy, IOC members went through seven rounds of voting to decide which two of the five would-be Olympic sports should be put up for a vote to give them Olympic status.

Having selected squash and karate, the members then overwhelmingly rejected their bids to join the Olympic program.

The other three candidates were rugby sevens, golf, and roller sports. "Roller sports"? What the hell is that? Skateboarding? If so, that would put a different spin on the whiners who complained that baseball and softball were booted because they are "native American sports". Huh? I don't remember reading anything about the Navajo or Hopi doing batting practice, other than to whack those durn homesteaders.

But seriously, you've got to figure that the US would dominate skateboarding, rollerblading, and other "roller sports". Can you see Tony Hawk atop the podium, with a string of gold medals around his neck?

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July 07, 2005

Ninja G-8: The Protest II

This photo shows a bunch of cops adopting a rather Highlander-esque ready stance. Connor McLeod, anyone? But I guess this is the Edinburgh constubalary, after all...

Edinburgh, Scotland policemen adopting ready position with raised batons

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Ninja G-8: The Protest

This image of an ASP-wielding cop taking on a would-be ninja protester was front-page news here in Silicon Valley the other day. Having written about ASPs for the About.com site, I found the photos rather interesting:

Anti-G8 protestor blocking ASP strike by Edinburgh Scotland policeman

Looks like the hooligan-in-black is attempting a lame two-handed quarte parry of the cop's ASP. What body target was the cop aiming at? The stick? Why not rap the punk on the upper arm (in the fleshy part, not the elbow, naturally) and make him drop the weapon? If this technique is a "beat", in the fencing sense, the cop needs a good follow up, and it's hard to tell if he's setting one up from the photo.

Interesting to see differences in baton doctrine in Europe. Wasn't it just a few years ago where the introduction of the PR-24 baton caused all sorts of protest? Now they're starting to carry ASPs. Next thing you know, they'll start carrying .40s too--no more crappy 7.65 Browning. Delivery like a brick through a plate glass window? Yeah, right.

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July 06, 2005

Pimp Beaten by Karate Master

Great clip, courtesy of iFilm:

Pimp Beaten by Karate Master

Ok. Name the technique.

Looks like backhand shuto (knifehand) to the carotid, the way the pimp drops so quickly. Kind of a bold move by the karate instructor--almost like he just wanted to try it to see if it would work (knowing he had a bunch of cops to back him up).

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June 15, 2005

Cooper Comments on Martial Arts

Guru says:

Now it appears that some curious group in England has decided that too many people are getting stabbed, and that therefore long, pointy kitchen knives should be banned. Apparently they think that kitchen knives with blunt points would lessen the incidents of stabbing. Hoplophobes being what they are, it does not occur to them that they might reduce their problems by making armed assault illegal. Of course if they did that, they would find it necessary to do something about unarmed assault, and presently we would be called upon to eradicate boxing, wrestling and kendo.

Some folks tried this before, right? And so the martial artists became "dancers" and resorted to including drummers in their practice sessions, and the result was capoiera.

If I was a rapper I could could switch to 52 Blocks.

RZA: "I ain't have to quickdraw Mcgraw ya, I could Fifty Two Block ya Switch my stance up Southpaw, drop ya ..."

Time for me to practice my "Filipino Stick Dance". Ahem.

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June 13, 2005

Lessons from the Street

My best friend and I were discussing how things were when we were growing up as compared to now, where we both live in calm suburbs where crime is rare rather than rampant.

I wrote about this paranoia awareness when discussing Jeff Cooper's Color Code--how growing up in the big city taught me to be aware of my surroundings and prepared to act in case of a threat. Little things--like using the reflective glass of a storefront window to watch my back, or how to sense body posture of people walking by to see if they're going to jump me, or proactively moving my body to shield my kid and protect my weapon side.

Would we be better off if we hadn't had such "training"? Or are we doomed in a weird way to be less trusting of others? To be always wary?

And how do we teach our kids the same skills, now that they will grow up (thankfully) in a much better, safer environment than the one we knew?

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May 05, 2005

Hillary Swank on Boxing vs. Karate

I wonder if any of the trade rag (think Variety, Hollywood Reporter, E!) hacks asked Ms. Most-Talked-About-Arms-Since-Linda "T2" Hamilton about her thoughts on boxing vs. karate.

Huh, you ask? Have you already forgotten the epic blockbuster that was "The Next Karate Kid"?

Ok, it was pretty forgettable. Didn't even have 30-year old Ralph Macchio hitting on high school girls or anything. The perv!

But Ms. Swank is one of the few actors in Hollywood to have portrayed an "expert" boxer and an "expert" karateka. With the exception of her "Million Dollar" archvillianess, Lucia Rijker, of course. Some producer (Chili Palmer, anyone?) should make her into the "female Rock".

At least Black Belt could've wrangled a cover article on that spin.

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May 03, 2005

Four Guys with Machetes. What Do You Do?

So this Malaysian dude gets carjacked by four thugs armed with machetes. These dudes were some tough mo-fos:

But having stripped the car, the thieves became frustrated when they wanted to restart it. They found they again could not bypass the immobiliser, which needs the owner's fingerprint to disarm it.

They stripped Mr Kumaran naked and left him by the side of the road - but not before cutting off the end of his index finger with a machete.

Sheeeit. Now at the risk of doing some Monday-morning quarterbacking, what could you do in such a situation? This sort of scenario planning is good tactical preparation. I covered it somewhat in my Fighting Multiple Attackers and Mind over Matter articles.

Bonus points if you think through the scenario using all levels of the force continuum: unarmed techniques, less-lethal weapons (pepper spray? ASP?), and firearms.

Triple bonus points if you first considered getting into your vehicle, locking the doors, and then running over the bad guys. This malaysian dude had a Mercedes, after all. Aren't they built like tanks? Who needs a 150 grain projectile when you have a 3500 lb one?

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April 25, 2005

Return of the Yawara

I'm starting to see a renaissance in "pocket stick" weapons, particularly yawara sticks made from hard polymers. This may be in response to the post-9/11 world where metal detectors are everywhere, and non-ferrous (well, of course, they're plastic) yawaras can be carried anywhere.

First up was Kelly Worden's Impact Kerambit, which has branched out from the original plain black into a whole spectrum of vivid fashion colors:

photo of 4 Impact Kerambit weapons in various colors

Now there's Cold Steel's Koga SD1, which is more along the lines of the classic Yawara/"Judo Stick" concept from the 1940s-1950s. You can actually buy this from Amazon.com now:

photo of Koga SD1 yawara stick

The PS5 folks in the UK have a new one too, similar to the Koga in construction and overall size, but with some nasty looking points (not totally sharp, about 1mm in diameter at the tips).

I would think that most of these would have the same issues as the yawaras from fifty years ago, that a sharp blow to a sensitive spot (like the temple) could kill a person. That's true with any weapon, even an improvised one like a stout writing pen, but these are intended for control use, and if the operator isn't trained in things like the wrist pain control (promoted by Kubota and Hatsumi) they'd quickly resort to blows with the tips.

One thing about these (and any other less-lethal weapon) that really requires practice is the transition from less-lethal to lethal weapon. Let's say you're using a pain compliance hold on some jerkoff. Turns out he's impervious to the pain on his wristbone/pressure point and he pulls a knife. But your yawara is clamped in a death grip in your gun hand.

You need to drop the yawara, draw your sidearm, and give the perp some lead poisoning pronto, all without getting sliced up or shooting yourself. Simunitions would probably be the best way to practice this.

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April 21, 2005

Using Spray Adhesive at the Gun Range

Picked up this idea from Tactical Response magazine:

If you use white paper plates as targets at the gun range, just use spray adhesive to stick new ones on over your shot-out plates.

I hadn't thought of this idea. I usually just use a staple gun (the hardcore shooters at the range use hammer tackers -- just a bit faster, so they're back on the line before I'm done stapling). Would spray adhesive work better? Hard to say, esp. with the wind that we get at our outdoor facility.

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April 04, 2005

Lab Rats with a Kung Fu Grip

A while back I wrote an article on "Getting a Kung Fu Grip". I still think grip strength is really important for martial artists, even strikers. And I know I've been remiss in keeping up with my grip training regimen.

One of the links in the article pointed at a company that made meters for testing the strength of lab mice. There's so much Weird Stuff on the Web that you forget just how ridiculous this sounds. Even more so, when you realize that it's actually a real, scientific apparatus used for legitimate research.

Now, being a sort-of technical type, but clueless about the zoological and biological sciences, what kind of job makes you measure the grip strength of a mouse?

Man holding mouse so it can grasp the grip strength meter

Only thing I could think of is a secret ninja-killer military project to recruit rodents for the armed forces. Breeding a cadre of warrior rats and all that. Too bad the Kung Fu Hamster is so last-year, we could really use him in the War for Freedom.

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December 20, 2004

House of Flying Daggers

Got to see a movie yesterday--a rare occasion, given that the last movie I saw was "Day after Tomorrow" six months ago.

Some thoughts on "House of Flying Daggers":

1. Incredible scenery. All during the movie, I kept thinking, "That doesn't look like China..." During my big month-long tour of China back in '82 I saw a lot of pretty places (West Lake, Suchow, etc) but nothing like the meadows and forests depicted in the movie. Then I noticed that it was actually the Ukraine. Fantastic! At least they didn't totally ape the Lord of the Rings stuff and film down in New Zealand.

2. Lord of the Rings stuff: Ok, they did copy (er, were inspired) by the LOTR trilogy. Some of the horseriding shots were reminiscent of the other movie. But I think mostly it was the casting of Kaneshiro (the Japanese Orlando Bloom?), complete with long ponytail and supernatural archery skills.

But I left the theater wanting to train, as always when watching a good m-a flick. Time to dust off those old throwing knives!

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December 03, 2004

Dueling with Sword and Pistol

Just finished Paul Kirchner's latest book on the Code Duelo: Dueling with Sword and Pistol. Like his previous book on historical warriors, The Deadliest Men, this book is meticulously researched and makes history fascinating.

Dueling with Sword and Pistol

This is the kind of stuff I wish we got to read in high school history classes. Kirchner talks about all sorts of notables from US history: representatives to Congress, state politicians and the like, who duked it out to settle their differences. And of course, Kirchner covers Alexander Hamilton vs. Aaron Burr, which is a totally interesting story. Can you imagine a grudge match between a modern era SecTreas and US Senator? "...Glocks at 20 paces. Behind the Washington Monument at high noon. Be there, muthaf-cker!"

But nooooo, high school history class was incredibly boring. All I remember of sophomore year world history was the teacher's recollection of being made to swallow a goldfish during his frat hazing.

Now I'm not advocating that our elected officials return to dueling to settle differences--although wouldn't that be more civilized than telling someone to 'f-ck yourself', Mr. Cheney?.

Good thing the Russians are our pals now. Putin, with his sambo/judo black belts and KGB secret-killer moves, would kick our president's ass. But watch out, President Schwartzenegger will change that balance of power right quick.

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November 19, 2004

Cheap Every Day Carry, Part 1

So I ordered a bunch of cheapo knives to replace the Spyderco Delica I lost while on vacation. Here's what I got:

CRKT small Crawford/Kasper, $19.99
Winchester rip-off of the Spyderco Endura, $5.99
Kabar International linerlock, $3.99

What is the saying, "you get what you pay for"? The Winchester and Kabar knives were just a notch above the flea market crap. The Winchester is such a blatant rip-off of the Endura that it's not really funny. See for yourself:

photo of cheap Kabar International knifephoto of Winchester ripoff of Spyderco design

I didn't even bother carrying the Kabar and Winchester around. The CRKT rode in my pocket for a few days, but it's too heavy for carrying in dressy clothes. My Delica was with me through at least five rental tuxedos over its lifetime.

So I caved in and bought a new Delica. Broke the tip already. :-(

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May 26, 2004

Cecil Adams on Dim Mak

Is the "Ninja Death Touch" real?
Someone got around to asking big cheese Cecil Adams about dim mak. Looks like Cecil found the same sources I talked to back in 2002.

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May 19, 2004

War Games

Guardian Unlimited - Chess! What is it good for?

Hit first, hit hard. That's what all martial artists strive for, isn't it?

These games, and other variations on regular play, led the team to a clear conclusion: being stronger and having more "battlespace information" than your opponent are both less valuable when there is little information available overall to both sides - but the advantage of a fast pace remains. "The value of information superiority is strongly tempered by uncertainty, whereas the value of superior tempo is much less affected," says Kuylenstierna.

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May 10, 2004

Dude, where's my Spyderco?

photo of black-bladed Spyderco Delica folding knife title=
While on vacation last week I lost my trusty Spyderco Delica. Man, I felt naked. Luckily, we were just a couple of days away from returning home, so I didn't have to go Spyderco-less for that long.

Looking online, I see that Delica's have gone up in price. Almost fifty bucks? Sheesh! I should've stocked up when the old Zytel clip models were selling at $20 closeout prices. I like the Zytel clips better anyway, because unknowing folks always think it's a pager--not the telltale steel clip of a "tactical folder".

So I'm now on the lookout for cheap replacements. Something that if lost won't bother me (as much!) but would supply 80% (ok, 50%) of the Spyderco's utility. I'll report back when I get some samples.

In the meantime, I'm now trying different knives to rotate some of the lesser-used ones into circulation. Today it's the Endura. Tomorrow, probably the Ryan Model 7. Kind of weird, though.

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April 12, 2004

Here's mud in yer eye...

Men's 145 pound semifinals of the European Greco-Roman Wrestling Championships in Haparanda, Sweden, April 10, 2004
This photo reminds me of the competition strategy my former officemate used when he competed in judo tournaments back in the 1970s .

Paul said he'd let the nails on his big toes get long and sharp. Not like the crazy german spy lady in those James Bond movies, but still enough to draw blood. If he got into a bad spot during randori, he'd slice open his opponent's calf or something, and the resulting blood would get the match halted.

Pretty slimy, I'd say. Rules are rules, and although the martial art I study disdains rules when "fighting", they do have a place in some competitions. If you go into a judo match, you expect throws and chokes, but not lacerations. Better to know you bested your opponent fairly than to have to cheat.

But on the street, your opponent isn't playing by your rules anyway. That's when you pull the Indiana Jones stuff--drop that bullwhip and shoot the mutha.

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March 22, 2004

Eric Raymond on an Armed Populace (er, Flock)

The Parable of the Sheep Turns out that ESR is a martial artist too. TKD. But we won't hold that against him. I need to use doclifter, after all...

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March 04, 2004


So this email about a new carjacking scheme is making the rounds.

David covers it well--sure, you need to watch out for flyers, but even more so, you need to watch out for punks with knives.

Like this incident, which took place at the Silicon Valley megamall:

San Jose, CA: A woman thwarted a would-be carjacker at Valley Fair mall Wednesday night, biting his hand and screaming when he attacked her as she loaded her baby into her sport-utility vehicle, police said. More...

What was this guy thinking? Ever hear of what happens to those dumb-asses that mess with bear cubs? Big momma bears stomp their asses, that's what. That protective instinct is in all mommies (and daddies). Good thing this punk didn't try to mess with a dad in the same way--he would've gotten a tire iron stuck up somewhere uncomfortable. Like an eye socket.

Nevertheless, it pays to be in Condition Yellow in those dark parking lots. As they always say, "Be careful out there."

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December 05, 2003

Brush w/Greatness: Gerald Okamura

So at dinner in Gardena last week (at the excellent Happa on Redondo Beach Blvd), I spy at the next table, none other than His Scowlness himself, Gerald Okamura.

Gerald Okamura holding two revolvers

Image from here.

You know this guy from movies and TV. He's the bald w/goatee Asian dude with the permanent scowl, kicking Kurt Russell's butt in Big Trouble in Little China or David Hassellhoff's in Baywatch (or for the wayback crowd, Knight Rider).

I was too chicken to go over and introduce myself. I was eating with my in-laws--he also looked like he was having a nice family dinner. I didn't want Sensei Okamura to whip out one of those wicked-looking "Okamura Hook Swords" and disembowel me in front of my relations.

My brother-in-law tells me he sees Mr. Okamura around all the time. Then again, this is the bro-in-law who's trained at Royce Gracie's Torrance studio. Jaded.

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October 17, 2003

One...er, two more for the good guys

Martial arts expert kills two raiders. Geoff points us to an article in the UK's Guardian newspaper, describing how a Chinese martial artist took out two bad guys, wounded a third, and sent the fourth running.

According to the Guardian, the four bad guys were pissed off that they didn't get enough money out of their home invasion, and threatened to rape the two women present. That's when the martial artist went into action.

Given that it's a UK-based newspaper, I'm not surprised at the tone the Guardian takes--that maybe the victim should be prosecuted for defending himself and the two women.

Here in the US, we'd go buy the guy a beer.

And tell him that he should go buy a gun. Or two.

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October 07, 2003

The Wrong Way to Choke a Guy

Policeman subduing unruly Oakland A's fan with incorrect choke. Cops had to subdue some unruly fans at the A's game. This cop is giving the guy the old forearm bone on the windpipe trick--works well because of the discomfort, but bad, bad, bad for liability. On a real hyped-up guy, you'd have to crush the windpipe before you get any real results.

Of course, we all know the Right Way* to do this choke, yes?

*(Stick the guy's throat in the corner of your elbow joint, then squeeze the neck arteries with your bicep/forearm).

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September 13, 2003

We Are All Bruce Lee

The Feral Tribune, via the Balkan Report, tells us about the effort to promote peace in a town split by the Bosnian conflict--by erecting a statue of Bruce Lee in the town center.

Mostar, the town in question, lost a fabled medieval bridge to the war. Promoters of the Bruce Lee statue say he's just the thing to bring peace and racial harmony between Bosniak and Croat.

Bruce Lee ceased to be an ordinary guy long ago. He's now a deity.

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September 09, 2003

Rhymes with Orange

Did you see this strip from Hilary B. Price's "Rhymes with Orange"? First time I've seen "sensei" and "dojo" in a mainstream comic strip.

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August 27, 2003

Where can I hit you?

Bill Romanowski punches teammate Marcus Williams during a fight in practice and breaks the guy's eye socket. Williams, currently on the injured reserve list, might not have a football career to go back to, if he can't see straight.

As martial artists, we could do the same thing to someone else. It's kind of scary, the damage one could inflict, and the legal ramifications of that one punch.

Yet we don't want to hesitate when action is warranted--if you're being attacked, you want to defend yourself with your best weapons. You don't want to slow down, think, "...should I hit him in the jaw, potentially fracturing his mouth, or in the temple, potentially killing him?"

I don't know a good way around this.

A friend related some comments by a mutual acquaintance, who happens to be a member of SFPD SWAT. The SWAT guy talked about softening up bad guys by "hitting them where it won't show," so the good officers wouldn't get into trouble for using excessive force.

Now where can you hit someone where it won't show? On the scalp, so it's covered by hair? I still haven't figured this one out.

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Tyson in K-1?

Geoff points us to a new development in Mike Tyson's career-- fighting in the K-1 full contact series. Tyson is an animal, but I don't think he'd do well outside boxing rules.

We've seen a lot of the "boxing vs. " matchups in the past--Bruce Lee deferred to Muhammad Ali, the greatest boxer of his time (and all time, I should say), stating, "He'd crush me." Gene Le Bell, who taught Lee some Big Time Wrestling moves, took on a boxer in a well-publicized match, and to most accounts, won.

Then there was the first UFCs, which billed themselves as pitting the masters of one art vs. another. Now, everyone in extreme fighting is like the other--cross-trained in striking and grappling and strong as an ox.

So if someone breaks Tyson's arm in a K-1 bout, will he go bite off an ear or something? We'll see.

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August 04, 2003

Seagal: Rejected!

NYPD rejected The Big Zen One's application for a concealed carry weapon (CCW) permit. No gun for for the Big One.

E! Online: Celebrities Packing Heat.

But he shouldn't need a piece, right? Not when you've got a great heaven-and-earth throw.

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August 03, 2003

Alex Gong Killed in Road Rage Incident

Alex Gong, the well-regarded proprietor of the Fairtex gym in San Francisco, was gunned down in a road rage incident last Friday. Some punk crashed into Gong's car, so Gong chased down the offender's Jeep, running a couple blocks barefoot until he caught up. Witnesses say the punk waited until the light turned green, then shot Gong before speeding away.

SF Chronicle: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/08/03/BA135877.DTL

I hope someone catches this punk soon. Gong was considered one of the good guys in the pro kickboxing world.

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July 30, 2003

Martial Artist as Pass Rusher

Mercury News | Carter shaping up into elite pass rusher

The Niners have always gotten into the martial arts thing--even Joe Montana shilled for George Chung's TKDaerobics video.

Added strength ought to help a player who already has tremendous quickness. (Andre) Carter earned a black belt in karate at age 12 and still uses martial arts in his training. The rapid hand movements help him shed blockers, and the mental discipline keeps his game in control.

For an example, Jones pointed to a drill in which the player glides back and forth on a sliding board and knocks down weighted balls. Nobody does it better than Carter, who knocks down the props with his eyes fixed straight ahead.

"In martial arts, they teach you to let everything be fluid," said Carter, a former Oak Grove High star. "Instead of thinking about it, go ahead and do it. For me, pass rushing is all about a smooth motion."

For more on football players who study martial arts, see my Celebrity Martial Artists article.

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July 29, 2003

A Killer Punch - Commotio Cordis

Punching Game Leaves San Jose Teen Dead

A while back I wrote an About.com article on commotio cordis--a little-known situation where a blow to the chest can interrupt the rhythm of the heart and cause immediate death.

It's sad, but this looks like one of those cases.

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