Thursday, 30 July 2020

39 - VIDEO - Reasonable Force? A tale of two weapon disarms

Weapon disarms DO happen in the real world despite what some experts would have you believe.

Here's two examples -

UC vs Stick

UC vs Gun

Which example shows reasonable force?

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

38 - On Strategy

Fighting is of course more like a game of draughts (checkers)  - but what of that which comes before or "left of bang" ?
Aspire always to to have the time and opportunity for chess.

See also:

Sunday, 26 July 2020

37 - LEGAL - Understanding UK knife carry laws

Basic laws on knives

 The following is the wording from the UK government regarding the carrying and sale of knives. It is a stand alone post linked to my tutorial article on understanding the knife as a weapon which you can find here:

The maximum penalty for an adult carrying a knife is 4 years in prison and an unlimited fine. You’ll get a prison sentence if you’re convicted of carrying a knife more than once.

It’s illegal to:
  • sell a knife to anyone under 18, unless it has a folding blade 3 inches long (7.62 cm) or less
  • carry a knife in public without good reason, unless it has a folding blade with a cutting edge 3 inches long or less
  • carry, buy or sell any type of banned knife
  • use any knife in a threatening way (even a legal knife)


In Scotland, 16 to 18 year olds are allowed to buy cutlery and kitchen knives.

Lock knives

Lock knives are not classed as folding knives and are illegal to carry in public without good reason. Lock knives:
  • have blades that can be locked and refolded only by pressing a button
  • can include multi-tool knives - tools that also contain other devices such as a screwdriver or can opener

Banned knives and weapons

It is illegal to bring into the UK, sell, hire, lend or give anyone the following:
  • butterfly knives (also known as ‘balisongs’) - a blade hidden inside a handle that splits in the middle
  • disguised knives - a blade or sharp point hidden inside what looks like everyday objects such as a buckle, phone, brush or lipstick
  • flick knives (also known as ‘switchblades’ or ‘automatic knives’) - a blade hidden inside a handle which shoots out when a button is pressed
  • gravity knives
  • stealth knives - a knife or spike not made from metal (except when used at home, for food or a toy)
  • zombie knives - a knife with a cutting edge, a serrated edge and images or words suggesting it is used for violence
  • swords, including samurai swords - a curved blade over 50cm (with some exceptions, such as antiques and swords made to traditional methods before 1954)
  • sword-sticks - a hollow walking stick or cane containing a blade
  • push daggers
  • blowpipes (‘blow gun’)
  • telescopic truncheons - extend automatically by pressing button or spring in the handle
  • batons - straight, side-handled or friction-lock truncheons
  • hollow kubotans - a cylinder-shaped keychain holding spikes
  • shurikens (also known as ‘shaken’, ‘death stars’ or ‘throwing stars’)
  • kusari-gama - a sickle attached to a rope, cord or wire
  • kyoketsu-shoge - a hook-knife attached to a rope, cord or wire
  • kusari (or ‘manrikigusari’) - a weight attached to a rope, cord, wire
  • hand or foot-claws
  • knuckledusters
 Contact local Police to check if a knife or weapon is illegal.

Good reasons for carrying a knife or weapon

Examples of good reasons to carry a knife or weapon in public can include:
  • taking knives you use at work to and from work
  • taking it to a gallery or museum to be exhibited
  • if it’ll be used for theatre, film, television, historical reenactment or religious purposes, for example the kirpan some Sikhs carry
  • if it’ll be used in a demonstration or to teach someone how to use it
A court will decide if you’ve got a good reason to carry a knife or a weapon if you’re charged with carrying it illegally.

Source: UK Gov

36 - VIDEO - Understanding the knife as a weapon

Most of the discourse about defending the criminal use of knives focuses almost entirely on just two aspects of the weapon:

The point - in the context of stabbing

The edge - in the context of slashing

In this post I will be introducing to new trainees a more complete picture of the capabilities of the knife as a weapon and the issues that arise from them.

Before looking at anything else it is key to have a good basic understanding of the different parts of a knife and also different designs. I will be looking at the martial aspects and not from a knife collector/ maker's viewpoint which is different and far more in depth.

Generally, knives are classified as :

Fixed - a typical sheath type knife.

Folding - a pocket knife that has a folding mechanism whether locking or not . eg a swiss army knife or a lock knife.

Example of Bowie design:

 The Tip
The point of the blade - needle sharp to enable penetration (stabbing).

The edge
Sharp along the full length (Tip to end of grind) - this is referrred to legally as the cutting edge - more on this later.
Typically thought of as the slashing aspect of the weapon it can also cut/ pierce by:

Hacking - retractive hits

Chopping - committed hits with weight.

Push or pressure cuts - pushing the edge into a surface or the edge is against the surface and force is applied to the spine of the knife.

Draw cuts - slicing forwards and backwards - eg cutting the throat.

Scrapes ( the edge is dragged across a surface while perpendicular to it).

The spine 
can be used as an impact weapon - against the body or another weapon. As such it is a non lethal option as it is not sharpened.
It could possibly be lethal for impact in the example of a large, heavy blade against the skull.

The Clip
This is a feature of the Bowie design being either sharpened or blunt (false) - it allows for a "Backcut" - a hooking slash delivered with what is a second edge allowing for faster injury as the blade doesn't need to be turned (for the main edge).

The Guard
Protects the hand from sliding up on the blade while stabbing for example.
It also protects like the guard of the sword from other weapons.

Self explanatory.

The end of the handle.
Can be used for striking:
A round pommel offers a less than lethal option.
A round pommel allows for easier manipulation of the weapon in the hand - from sabre to reverse grip etc.
A round pommel allows pressure to be placed from the other hand (including striking) to aid penetration of the tip.
A pointed "assault" type pommel offers effectively a second point/tip for piercing.
The pommel can be used for grinding / pressure / pain compliance (less than lethal).
See video below for an example of pommel striking.

lanyard hole
Allows the knife to be tied to the hand/ wrist with the use of a lanyard to aid retention. In 2017, the London Bridge terrorist attackers used tape to fix knives to there hands for a similar result.

The Sub Hilt
This is a rare addition to knives but is out there. Used basically for aiding the grip on the knife, especially when pulling the knife from a stuck postion.

The Flat
The flat can be used impactively to slap the opponent - less than lethal option - or weapon - eg parrying.

Example of dagger design

An example of the British Fairbairn Sykes knife issued to British troops which is specifically designed for stabbing.

Folding knives

Folding knives have the same features as fixed blade knives in terms of their blade designs.
Whilst there is a trade off between the strength of a fixed blade ( many folders are nearly as strong when locked for the applications we are looking at) , it is important to be aware of the less than lethal applications they possess.
The ends of the closed knife can be used for pommel striking and also like a kubotan as a pressure / pain compliance tool.
The folder can also be used as a hand weight to increase the force of punches.

False edges

A false edge at the end of a blade gives the knife both a spine and also a second edge to provide back cut possibilities and a dagger effect.

As double edge knives are illegal in some jurisdictions the second edge can be left unsharpened to remain legal.

Serrated edges

A slash with a plain edged weapon can be defeated by thick clothing like jackets and denim seams. The addition of a serrated edge can overcome this.

The above exmple also has a "Hawkbill" type dropped point mch like a traditional Karambit knife below. These are designed to catch and cut by dragging the blade. It's worth remembering when considering defence against them that this makes them more or less useless for stabbing movements.

The example of a karambit below has a finger ring to aid retention which is a concern when contemplating many disarming techniques that get taught.

Points for the trainee to remember (no pun intended)

The ONLY knives that may carried in everyday situations legally and without specific reason are :

Non locking with a CUTTING EDGE of less than 3 inches.

See post 37 for UK knife carry laws:

The maximum penalty for an adult carrying a knife is 4 years in prison and an unlimited fine.
You’ll get a prison sentence if you’re convicted of carrying a knife more than once.

As a UK civilian training self defence the main focus of knife related training will be the unarmed defending of yourself against one or more criminals who may be armed with edged weapons.

An expanded awareness of the capabilities of a knife will greatly aid you in that endeavour.

You must also be aware that if you manage to disarm an attacker - YOU ARE NOW THE PERSON HOLDING THE KNIFE!

If your attacker/s continue to assault you it is basic sense to admit to yourself that they may be quite intent on getting their weapon back!

A consideration of the less than lethal options the knife possesses can boost your legal, moral and situational chances of self defence.

Video example of pommel striking.

The video below is included to show one of the aspects shown in this post.
The footage is from outside the UK and BOTH of the men fighting are guilty of criminal behaviour in a UK context.

The man in the dark shirt had drawn a knife during an argument.

The man in the patterned shirt has seized that weapon and has used it against the man in the dark shirt despite his capitulation, continually and with no preclusion.

The video is therefore only to illustrate the possibility of less than lethal pommel strikes and should not in any way be taken as advice on UK legal self defence!

Thursday, 16 July 2020

34 - RESEARCH: Closer threats inspire a more primitive kind of fear

Different use of brain circuits may help explain the tenacity of post-traumatic stress


June 29, 2020
Duke University
Your brain handles a perceived threat differently depending on how close it is to you. If it's far away, you engage more problem-solving areas of the brain. But up close, your animal instincts jump into action and there isn't as much reasoning, like when the guy at the haunted house jumps up right next to you.
And that, according to a new study using virtual reality to make threats appear near or far, is probably what makes it harder to extinguish the fear of a close-up threat and more likely that you'll have some long-term stress from the experience.
It has been shown that traumatic events that touch the body, like rape and other physical assaults, are more strongly associated with post-traumatic stress disorder than are traumas viewed at some distance.
Now, thanks to a clever adaption that put research subjects into a 3D virtual reality environment while their brains were being scanned by an MRI machine, researchers have seen just how the circuitry of those brain responses differ.
"Clinically, people who develop PTSD are more likely to have experienced threats that invaded their personal space, assaults or rapes or witnessing a crime at a close distance. They're the people that tend to develop this long-lasting threat memory," said Kevin LaBar, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University who is the senior author on a paper appearing this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"We've never been able to study that in the lab because you have a fixed distance to the computer screen," LaBar said.
But Duke graduate student Leonard Faul and postdoc Daniel Stjepanovic figured out a way to do it, using a 3D television, a mirror and some MRI-safe 3D glasses.
"It's like an IMAX experience," LaBar said. "The threatening characters popped out of the screen and would either invade your personal space as you're navigating this virtual world, or they were farther away."
The VR simulation put 49 study subjects into a first-person view that had them moving down either a dark alley or a brighter, tree-lined street as they lay in the MRI tube having their brains scanned. Ambient sound and visual backgrounds were altered to provide some context for the threat versus safe memories.
On the first day of testing, subjects received a mild shock when the "threat avatar" appeared, either two feet away or 10 feet away, but not when they saw the safe avatar at the same distances.
The data from the first day showed that near threats were more frightening and they engaged limbic and mid-brain "survival circuitry," in a way that the farther threats did not.
The following day, subjects encountered the same scenarios again but only a few shocks were given initially to remind them of the threatening context. Once again, the subjects showed a greater behavioral response to near threats than to distant threats.
"On the second day, we got fear reinstatement, both near and far threats, but it was stronger for the near threat," LaBar said.
Tellingly, the nearby threats that engaged the survival circuits also proved harder to extinguish after they no longer produced shocks. The farther threats that engaged more higher-order thinking in the cortex were easier to extinguish. The near threats engaged the cerebellum, and the persistence of this signal predicted how much fear was reinstated the next day, LaBar said. "It's the evolutionarily older cortex."
The more distant threats showed greater connectivity between the amygdala, hippocampus and ventral medial prefrontal cortex and the areas of the cortex related to complex planning and visual processing, areas the researchers said are more related to thinking one's way out of a situation and coping.
Understanding the brain's response to trauma at this level might point to new therapies for PTSD, LaBar said.
"We think that the cerebellum might be an interesting place to intervene," he said. "Clinically, it's a new interventional target. If you can somehow get rid of that persistent threat representation in the cerebellum, you might be less likely to reinstate (the fear) later on."
This research was funded by the National Science Foundation (BCS 1460909).

Journal Reference:
  1. Leonard Faul, Daniel Stjepanović, Joshua M. Stivers, Gregory W. Stewart, John L. Graner, Rajendra A. Morey, Kevin S. LaBar. Proximal threats promote enhanced acquisition and persistence of reactive fear-learning circuits. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2020; 202004258 
  2. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2004258117"Closer threats inspire a more primitive kind of fear: Different use of brain circuits may help explain the tenacity of post-traumatic stress." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 June 2020. <>.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

33 - (VIDEO) Defensive concepts: Group attack on car driver with pitchfork

UK / July 2020

Video below.

Unknown context (at time of writing) - very specific targeting by group of the driver.

One attacker is seen breeching the windscreen and window with a pitchfork in order to stab the driver/ occupant(s).

Attackers have added (apart from numbers) advantage of driver being seated and  restrained by seat belt and car cabin.

The driver is not able seemingly to attempt to drive the car. There are also many comments in the press recently about just ramming people if you're attacked - this will lead to nightmare legal consequences. The fact that the window is breeched by the weapon would arguably give more justification for this action.

There are videos being posted instructing on how to break car windows to access the driver of a car including cutting seatbelts in order to be able to drag the driver out and assault them.

Consider keeping doors locked at all times.
One inch rule for open windows - better to keep closed and use air con - there are other videos of attackers in the UK accessing through small gaps with acid sprays.

Practice check/locking doors at any approach toward vehicle.

Defensive driving must avoid unknown people approaching to avoid being attacked later in court.

Consider defensive options for your side of the car - nearest hand? Possible movement? Options?

Saturday, 11 July 2020

32 - (VIDEO) Context and Consequence

Here's video (below) of UFC veteran Boston Salmon being illegally KO'd last night while down by a
knee to the head from opponent Shawn West.

In a sports context this shows pretty poor control by West - this tactic is completely illegal in MMA (*) for good reason.

Salmon won this fight despite being unconscious as West was DQ'd.

In a non- sports context the strike takedown and finish would have been identical (with the added risk of ground impact to the head) however, this fight would not have in all possibility ended here and would easily have resulted in the death of the unconscious individual from follow up kicks etc.

The same fight in two different contexts but with two profoundly different consequences.

 *The unified rules of mixed martial arts dictates that a fighter is considered 'grounded' if either of his knees or hands are touching the canvas, with knee strikes or kicks to the head outlawed from this position.

59 - Mindset - On winning

  - quote from Bob Knight. It's always great to get mail from a trainee that has the dedication to train on their own and really commit ...