Self Defense

A thoughtful question from Mitch Mitchell, an affiliate coach of American Frontier Rough and Tumble, prompted me to commit to paper some observations regarding two common tools/weapons of the frontier. First, the exchange that led to all this:

Question: "Am I on the right track or holding my danged knife wrong?"

My reply: "Bowie designs are manifold. My personal preference falls toward a flat-spine knife with a half-guard because a spine-side guard or broken spine jams up my thumb on a sincere stab in a saber grip. For me, anyway, a nice, straight, full-power stab with a hammer grip on the high line is impossible, and anyway it is a wrist killer."

Mitchell's question is a common one that can lead us one step closer to weapons wisdom. First, I will point out that discovering that certain tactics and grips are wrist killers is possible only when we invest time in hard training with hard targets. If we stick with mirror play, shadow play or tit-for-tat flow drills with a partner using mock weapons, we likely will never stumble on the realities that make certain tactics ill-advised. As they say, train real to find real.

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Intellectualization is defined as a defense mechanism that entails using reasoning to avoid unconscious conflict and its associated emotional stress — wherein thinking is used to avoid feeling. It involves removing oneself emotionally from a stressful event.

Increasingly, I notice the trend in combatives and other self-defense "systems" to intellectualize — actually, to over-intellectualize. The definition of intellectualization that appears above perfectly captures the meaning as it applies to fighting.In an effort to avoid the pain, consequence, damage and stress of fighting — whether in training or for real — instructors use constructed language to describe the impossible (what's expected in the moment) and use pseudoscience to justify what they're professing.Those of you who have read this column for any length of time have heard me say over and over that if you want to learn to fly, at some point, you have to actually take off and land. The same is true of fighting: If you want to learn to fight well, you have to spend a significant amount of time actually fighting. There is no replacement for this.

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Safely Using Chokes and Other Techniques Requires Proper Training!

Recent events have ignited a worldwide controversy regarding police use of what the public is generically calling "chokeholds." Like most things in life, the big picture is complicated. Many watched the video that recorded the tragic death of George Floyd, in which an officer's shin was positioned against his neck for more than eight minutes, then started demanding that police be prohibited from using all chokeholds.

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Notes on Knives

A Short Guide for Choosing the Right Tactical Folder

Regular readers of Black Belt know that we frequently run features on knives: knife tactics, knife techniques, knife training, knife law and even the psychology of fending off knife-using criminals. Consequently, the editors of the magazine receive lots of sharp samples for review.

The feedback we get from Black Belt readers indicates that you love blades as much as we do. And judging from the websites and catalogs of the major manufacturers, this is an exciting time to be into edged weapons, with lots of innovation and plenty of new models in the works. Those two observations prompted us to jot down a few bits of general advice, all of it nontechnical, aimed at assisting anyone who's thinking about buying a blade.

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