Your Less-Lethal Weapon Matters More Than You Think!

Why is that important? Because techniques are subject to failure, but principles aren't. If you apply proven principles consistently, you're far less likely to make a mistake or fail.

by Kelly McCann

Our first principle is “Go Armed." Some incorrectly interpret this as advice to carry a firearm. While that certainly may be a good choice for some, it may be impossible or inappropriate for others. Going armed means having in your possession a legally concealable device — even if it's hidden in plain sight — that will materially aid you in a self-defense situation.

The range of suitable devices is enormous: bludgeons, point-impact tools, edged weapons, aerosols, electronic stun guns, hand-held lights and so on. Choosing wisely is important for several reasons, but first let's talk about what the most important attribute of any weapon is.

The most important attribute is not its usefulness in combat; it's the weapon's usefulness as a trigger. If you suddenly find yourself thinking about, touching, looking at or drawing your weapon, that should trigger you to leave whatever situation made you feel a weapon was necessary. To linger in the area or prolong your exposure to the threat only increases the probability of having to use your weapon.


Years ago when I was training new intelligence-agency personnel, I was happy to see a fairly recent student return from deployment to a particularly nasty region of the world that had lots of ambush attacks, lots of kidnappings and lots of mayhem. Anxious to tell me about his first “near miss," he explained that he and a teammate were out developing a walking SDR (surveillance detection route) for an upcoming local-asset meeting. As they walked along, they found themselves in a sketchy area.

“We normally wouldn't have gone that deep into it, but we were jocked up (armed), so we continued through the area," the student told me.

He was surprised when I rebuked him and sharply asked, “So you didn't learn anything here then?" My point was, if they wouldn't have walked through that particular spot unarmed, why did they do it armed?

The point of good security is to not put yourself in bad situations unnecessarily. Every single time you're involved in a violent situation, the stakes are high and you're subject to the ungovernable elements of risk and chance. Really good, talented and armed people get killed all the time. Often, it's by people who are less well-armed and far less skilled. Don't drink the Kool-Aid.

The second most important thing in choosing a “bridge" weapon — or a lethal weapon, for that matter — is effectiveness. It's obvious why you'd want it to be effective. You must remember, though, that every weapon has shortcomings with respect to intimidation factor, immediate effectiveness, ease of use, safety to the user, etc. As I've written before, a lot of these devices fall into the gimmick category and won't do a damn thing to stop or dissuade a committed attacker.

With any weapon, it's crucial to consider the cost of failure. If you draw and attempt to use an ineffective fighting tool, you may have just lost the opportunity to use a completely effective unarmed alternative. Even worse, you may continue to try to use the ineffective weapon, thus becoming married to the idea of using it instead of abandoning it altogether and then either escaping or fighting unarmed.

This is often the case with weapons of opportunity. Imagine the disappointment, delayed reaction and utter disbelief you would experience if you had in your hand something you thought “for sure" was going to stop an active shooter, and when you smashed it over his head, it disintegrated on contact and imparted no kinetic energy. DOH! In that case, you'd have been far better off using a simple and brutal unarmed technique.

Bruce Lee once said that when a fight is brewing, you should never anticipate what the threat may do. This philosophy flew in the face of age-old thinking that held that anticipation was absolutely necessary. Lee's point was that the cost of incorrect anticipation is it puts you twice as far behind. His thought was to just be intently in the moment and deal with it. Thinking a weapon will be more effective than it is can have the same effect of positioning you behind the eight ball.

Whatever weapon you choose to carry, don't neglect to do this: When you train, make sure you train for failure. And make sure you can seamlessly switch from being armed to being unarmed. It should be as natural as starting off unarmed and then having to arm yourself. Only in this way will you be prepared for anything.

About the author: Kelly McCann is the author of Combatives for Street Survival: Hard-Core Countermeasures for High-Risk Situations. Order it here. For information about his online combatives course, click here and here.

SUBSCRIBE TO BLACKBELT MAGAZINE TODAY!
Don't miss a single issue of the world largest magazine of martial arts.
Yahoo! Sports

Dustin Poirier has knocked out Conor McGregor in the second round at the UFC 257 Main Event. This spoils McGregor's long-awaited UFC return after his win over Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone last January. Poirier hinted after the match that he would be open to another bout against McGregor, as this fight brings their rivalry to a 1-1 record. The impressive wins of Poirier and Michael Chandler on Saturday night set the UFC's lightweight division up for a very exciting future.

The Legendary Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame has never before been documented in a single location. Now, you can learn about all the icons that have achieved one of the greatest honors in all of martial arts.

Black Belt Magazine is proud to announce the NEW Member Profiles feature for the Hall of Fame. At the time of this article, the online records account for every inductee from the inaugural year of 1968 all the way through 1990 (upwards of 200 martial artists). The page will be updated continuously and will include every inductee through 2020 in the near future. For now, you can enjoy images and facts about the legendary members for each induction they received before 1991. Take advantage of this never-before-seen opportunity to learn about many of the martial artists who contributed to the lifestyle, culture, and community that every martial artist experiences today.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE BLACK BELT HALL OF FAME

Black Belt Magazine Subscriptions

A Closer Look at Mongolia's Naadam Festival

Mongolia's "three sports of men" — archery, horseracing and wrestling — were the featured attractions at the first Naadam festival convened by Genghis Kahn himself in 1206.

Fast-forward to the 21st century: The festivals, held nationwide in mid-July each year, still celebrate the formation of the Mongolian Empire and its achievement of independence from China's Qing Dynasty.

The highlight of modern incarnations of Naadam is the wrestling, and many boys who grow up on the steppes dream of one day being crowned a champion.

The wrestling competitions are single-elimination tournaments. Wrestlers wear trunks and an open-chest shirt with a rope tied around the abdomen, all of which opponents are allowed to grab. The most common colors seen are red, which symbolizes power, and blue, which represents the Mongolian sky.

The author (left) grapples with a Mongolian wrestler.

The grapplers also wear heavy traditional boots and a Mongolian hat. The four sides of the hat represent the four provinces of old Mongolia. The top knot is for the five regions of the Buddhist government. The silver badge attached to each hat bears the animal ranking of the wrestler.

In competition, the wrestlers have to win six matches to be crowned champion. There are no weight classes, which is perhaps why the top grapplers generally weigh 260 pounds or more. The goal is to make the opponent touch the ground with anything other than the soles of his feet.

Because of the coronavirus, the most recent Naadam competition in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar took place without an audience. Spectators had to watch on television or online.

At the competitions in the provinces, however, the action was live, and residents of nearby towns showed up to watch.

In a secondary subdivision called Temenzogt, located about seven hours' drive from Ulaanbaatar, I was fortunate to have a chance to wrestle in a Naadam event.

Author Antonio Graceffo (right) and his opponent.

After quickly sizing up my huge opponent, a former champion, I braced myself for a pushing and pulling battle of upper-body strength. I was surprised when he chose to use his heavy boots and massive thighs to kick my legs out from under me.

And with that, my Naadam experience came to an abrupt end. I was grateful, however, for the efforts of all my Mongolian friends who made it possible for me to fulfill my dream of wrestling in Naadam.

I learned a lot about Mongolia, the culture and the ground, so much so that I've decided to stay here another year and really dedicate myself to learning Mongolian wrestling.

Maybe at next year's Nadaam, I'll be able to last 20 seconds.

Antonio Graceffo writes Black Belt's Destinations column. Read more of his work here. His book Warrior Odyssey is available here.

Photos Courtesy of Antonio Graceffo

To read more about Mongolian wrestling, check out "Wrestling With the Descendants of Genghis Khan: Black Belt's Asia Correspondent Travels to Mongolia to Grapple!" in our February/March 2021 issue. Go here to order your copy from the Black Belt Store!

In a competition bereft of many of its top wrestlers, Daieisho was a surprise winner of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament Sunday in Tokyo. With the area under a state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic and a post-war record 19 wrestlers withdrawing from the event, Daieisho pulled off the upset victory coming from the maegashira level, the lowest of five ranks in sumo's top division, to win the title.

It was Daieisho's first championship as he finished the event with a 13-2 record. Displaying a powerful pushing and thrusting style, he also garnered the prize for outstanding performance during the tournament as well as the prize for best technique.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter!
Stay up to date in the martial arts community with news from around the world, techniques of all styles and all around guiding you in your martial arts journey