Monday, May 30, 2011


Ernest Hemingway wrote that sometimes he needed to read what he had written in order to remind himself that he could write.

Self defense skills are both physical and mental and we need to practice as much to maintain our physical skills as to remind ourselves that we must be ever vigilant when it comes to protecting ourselves and our families.

As a competitive pistol shooter, I have found that my skills deteriorate unless I practice every day. Fifteen minutes a day of dry firing is better than an hour every week at the range. Muscle memory is a funny thing. We do not forget it all and if we have even been good at something, it doesn’t take long to retrieve those movements from the deep freeze and defrost them, but we do lose the subtleties we once worked so hard to incorporate into ourselves.

Several years ago, I took a series of defensive knife fighting courses with our local police department. The style was different than I had been taught as a nineteen year old, but after a while, meaning about half a day, it all started to come back. The good news is that by the end of the first day, I seemed to have recovered most of my old skills and all of the mental set and awareness. The only problem this pointed up was that it took time to recover those muscle memories, time I would not have had in a confrontation outside of the training room.

I find that while acquiring new skills is fun, maintaining them is work. It is work, however, that may pay the ultimate dividend. Paraphrasing Mr. Hemingway’s thought, I practice not only to be able to defend myself and my loved ones, but to remind myself: NEVER GIVE UP.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Teen ‘flash mob’ robberies on Michigan Avenue on the rise

At a mall outside Milwaukee, parents must escort their teens on weekends because of rampant shoplifting there.

In St. Louis, Las Vegas and Philadelphia, text-messaging “flash mobs” of youths have swooped into stores, stealing merchandise and running away.

And here in Chicago, shoplifting arrests of juveniles have jumped in the police district that includes the Magnificent Mile — even though retail-theft arrests as a whole have fallen slightly...

read more

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Elderly Must Share the Financial Burden

The Elderly Must Share the Financial Burden
By Robert Samuelson

I have been urging higher eligibility ages and more means-testing for Social Security and Medicare for so long that I forget that many Americans still accept the outdated and propagandistic notion that old age automatically impoverishes people. Asks one reader: Who are these "well-off" elderly you keep writing about? The suggestion is that they are figments of my imagination, invented to justify harsh cutbacks in Social Security and Medicare on the needy.

Just the opposite. We see every day that many people in their 60s and older live comfortably - and still would if they received a little less in Social Security and paid a little more for Medicare. The trouble is that what's intuitively obvious becomes lost in the political debate; it's overwhelmed by selective and self-serving statistics that cast almost everyone over 65 as being on the edge of insolvency. The result: Government over-subsidizes the affluent elderly. It transfers resources from the struggling young to the secure old.

The Elderly Must Share the Financial Burden

Sunday, May 15, 2011


My favorite anti-gunner myth is that if you have a gun, the bad guy will just take it from you and use it against you. My usual response is to say, “Okay, let’s pretend you are the bad guy. I’ll point this, say squirt gun filled with red dye, at you. Let’s see if you can take it from me before I paint you.” So far I’ve had no takers willing to get wet or red; and with good reason. Their experience comes from watching TV or their own vivid imaginations. Mine comes from training, practice and deployment.

There is some truth, however, to their concern. In fact, every year there are cops throughout the nation who have their duty weapons taken from them. Many of these incidents end tragically. Typically in these types of confrontations, the bad guy (BG for short) has his/her mind made up that for whatever reason they are going to resist and resist violently. It is the officer who is surprised. This is the exact opposite of a trained citizen carrying concealed and using his/her firearm defensively to protect themselves and/or their loved ones. Carrying concealed means the bad guys will not know until you draw that you even have a gun. SURPRISE!

Several years ago, FBI profilers conducted interviews of violent offenders who were serving long sentences in prison. One of the surprising findings was that a huge percentage of violent confrontations with the police results from offenders knowing they are wanted for something and they are going to resist. This was so even though in the days before computers in police cruisers, the BG’s believed the officer who was pulling them over for a traffic stop, had recognized them and if they didn’t resist, back to the pokey they would go. While the threat of more prison time did not deter violence, it was the spark that ignited their resistance.

The answer to both of these situations, the cop effecting a stop or arrest and the civilian defending herself is the same: a combination of training, technique and tool choice as well as proper mindset.

Proper Mindset
I have touched on this in prior posts and will continue to write about this, but it is worth repeating over and over: When confronted by evil, you must respond quickly, decisively and aggressively. YOU MUST NEVER GIVE UP!

Weapons retention training is best practiced with a partner. Practicing with your reverse twin in the mirror combined with “what if” scenarios is better than nothing, but like sex, it’s more fun to share the experience.

Obviously you must use an inert weapon, preferably a “blue gun” specifically made for this type of training. I will not use a real firearm for this type of training unless the firing pin has been removed, the barrel welded up or some similar modification.

Someone trained in disarming techniques will close the gap with the person holding the gun, then turn the gun inward (towards the inside of the gunman’s hand), away from themselves and back around towards the gunman. If it’s a revolver, the hand on the gun will try to grab the cylinder and freeze it to prevent a discharge; if a pistol, he will try to push the slide back to put the gun of battery, at the same time. A gun held by one hand and extended out from the gunman’s body is an open invitation to having it stripped and used against him.

Taking this apart, step by step, we can see that how you hold the gun and where it is are important.

Going to another FBI statistic, most shootings occur at approximately 7 feet or less; close up and very personal. At this distance, it’s draw and shoot. This is called point shooting and is a handy thing to know. After pulling your gun, it should be held close to your body, on your strong side (dominant side: the usual place for a holster not in the cross-draw position), your off hand (non gun hand) should be out of the way of the muzzle, but in position to parry a counter move or push the BG away. A variation is to hold the gun low, in front of you, with a two-handed grip. I have been trained and practice both, but prefer the two-handed grip as I am able to push the gun forward, if necessary, in order to acquire a flash sight picture if time permits or even a more accurate full target-style sight picture.

Retention Tools
Here I am referring to holster choice and a knife or compliance tool to help you maintain or regain control of your firearm.

For the last six months or so I have been using a Blackhawk Serpa Retention holster for open carry or concealed beneath something bulky. It has a positive and yet easy to release lever, perfectly positioned so that only you can withdraw your gun. In the past I have used holsters with straps, kydex holsters where the gun had to be pulled straight upward in order to get it out and old fashioned cavalry flap holsters. I really like the Serpa system and will stick with it until I find something I like better.

For more discreet concealed carry, I use an inside the waist band leather holster. Although I have had inside the waist band holsters with straps, those are for carrying single action pistols, cocked and locked, such as 1911’s or revolvers with exposed hammers. With striker fired pistols I prefer to let the concealment simply hide the gun until such time as I choose to expose it.

A knife or compliance tool, such as a flashlight or kubaton (a short rod used to put pressure at a nerve center in order to gain compliance), can be used to help regain control of a weapon if a struggle ensues. These require training and practice to be employed effectively.

Each of the above deserves its own detailed post. I will elaborate on these in future posts. For now it is important to recognize that any self-defense training must include learning how to retain your weapon in the event the bad guy(s) tries to take it from you.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Some Predators Have 4 Legs

I will be writing on protecting yourself from 4 legged predators as well as the 2 legged variety.


 Growing up, I had a friend who wanted to be able to defend himself. Because he was disabled, his parents thought he would get hurt if they sent him to a dojo. Instead, they bought him a Judo book.
I also wanted to be able to defend myself, so we went through the book together. We would study the photos and instructions and try to act out the moves described. It turned out to be worth exactly nothing. At least I did not have a false sense of security; I had no sense of security. Later on, when I had the opportunity to study under some outstanding trainers, I worked with my friend to help him build actual skills. Today, having recently entered my Golden Years, I believe some of what I learned from that experience can be useful in teaching seniors how to defend themselves and their loved ones.
In the first Karate Kid movie, Mr. Miyagi sees young Daniel reading a Judo book and mutters something to the effect of, “Cannot learn Judo from book.” I agree, however, what you can learn is:
1. To be aware, so you can avoid trouble;
2. To act decisively, so as to resolve situations quickly;
3. Simplified self-defense techniques built on movements you already know;
4. Vulnerable areas of the body, to protect yours while attacking the bad guy's;
5. How to practice by yourself or with a partner in order to learn and then keep up your skills.

I look forward to writing about this and hope you will join me on this adventure.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tiger Moms

Aren't all Moms, Tiger Moms?

A tiger will fight to the death to protect her cubs. So will all Moms. I know mine would have. I do not know one who wouldn't. I never worried when my kids were small, because they were with their tiger mom. My wife, their mother did not know judo; she did not know karate; she didn't carry as knife; she didn't carry a gun. She did not know the formal techniques of self-defense, but if the need arose, she would defend her family to the death.
Knowing how to defend one's self, whether with your hands, knives, guns or whatever, is fun, it builds confidence, and it is a pretty good way to stay in shape without thinking you are exercising. Thomas Edison is credited with saying that invention is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration. Col. Jeff Cooper would have and probably did say that self-defense is 90% mental and 10% physical.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Torah and Self-Defense

 The Torah and Self-Defense  by David B. Kopel

    For those of you who enjoy reading about the bases of the Second Amendment and how our Judeo-Christian heritage commands us to defend ourselves, our loved ones and others who need our help, David B. Kopel has written a wonderful article.

    "The Torah is by far the most important of Jewish scriptures. The Jewish Bible contains the same books as what Christians call the “Old Testament.” Accordingly, the Torah is the foundation of Christian scriptures. ...This article surveys the Torah’s teachings on the right and the duty to defend oneself and others.

    "Part V turns to the Sixth Commandment, whose language “Thou shalt not kill,” has been frequently, but implausibly, misconstrued as a prohibition on self-defense. The article concludes that the Torah clearly creates a right and a duty to defend oneself and others."

to read the entire article:   The Torah and Self-Defense

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Suspect Wanted for Mugging Grandmas

The ruthless thief first struck on April 23, when he followed an 81-year-old woman into her Fordham building about 11:30 a.m., cops said.

The suspect began chatting with the woman before he suddenly punched her in the face and swiped her cash, police said.

The man has attacked at least four more women since the heinous attack.

On Wednesday, police say the same man helped an 80-year-old woman carry groceries to her Fordham home about 2:20 p.m.

After he helped tote the bags to her apartment, he asked the woman for a dollar.

When the woman said she didn't have any bills to give, the suspect pounced on her and tried to take her pocketbook.

Witnesses heard the commotion and the man fled empty-handed, cops said.

The suspect - wearing light-colored pants and a dark jacket - was captured on a surveillance video after one of the attacks.

Police ask anyone with information to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers hotline, (800) 577-TIPS.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

AWARENESS The Key to Survival

            Whether in the dense foliage of the tropical jungle or the asphalt paved streets of the urban jungle, the most important thing is AWARENESS.  Awareness of what we receive through our eyes and ears and what we perceive through our “sixth sense”, the one honed through a lifetime of experience.  Whether it is a lioness running down and eland or someone looking to hurt you or steal from you, predators attack from behind, the so-called blind side. While some people seem to be born with eyes behind their heads, or a sensitivity to the barely conscious feeling that all is not well, being alert to anything out of place or out of the ordinary, is something that can be learned and most certainly can be improved upon.
            Every one of us can be attacked and every one of us, no matter how highly trained, can be defeated. But what we should never be is surprised. This is where the eyes in back of your head training comes in.
            Let’s start with a simple exercise. You can do this by yourself, but working with someone else is more realistic and more fun. We are going to test your peripheral vision.  Have your fiend come up directly behind you, approaching the back of your head.  Since most of us do not actually have a third eye back there, the object at this stage is not to “see” him/her, or even sense them. While you face forward, have them first circle to the right at a distance of about 3 feet from your back. Make a note of when they first come into view. Now repeat this from the left.
            This time have the helper stand just out of view at the right and turn your head slightly. You will notice that just a slight turning of your head increases your field of view dramatically. It is this slight turning of your head in both directions combined with an awareness of what is in your extended peripheral field of view that I want you to practice. With time, this will become second nature and this will help protect you by helping to prevent surprise.
            Often times, predators will be walking towards you and when they are past you, they will turn and attack from the flank, meaning they will angle back towards you believing they are out of your field of view and will be able to catch you with your guard down.
            In a recent morning newspaper there was an item about a 68 year old woman*, someone who took public transportation to work and back home to her family. Last evening, walking down the stairs from the EL platform, as she had been doing for many years after her work as a church deacon, she was violently pushed down those stairs by a robber who had just stolen an iPhone from another commuter.  She fell to her death down those concrete steps, hitting the back of her head on the concrete sidewalk. A number of people saw this and yelled at the robber to stop, but he kept on running. The police, as is their job, are investigating. The killer might be found, he might not, but Mrs. SK-K is dead.
There are those of you who would say that Mrs. SK-K could not have prevented this unwarranted attack; that she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. That in any case, they do not want to live in a state of constant vigilance.  I am here to tell you that firstly, awareness is a habit that brings with it a measure of comfort. It is not something separate and apart from life. Secondly, if this good woman had been even a little bit more aware, she might have simply grabbed the railing or held on a bit tighter or just moved out of the robber’s way.
I am not blaming her. I am merely using this to illustrate that if she had seen the robber coming, she may have been able to move out of harm's way. I am definitely not saying she was complicit in her own demise. I am only telling you she could have altered the odds, shifting them just a bit towards her own safety.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

"Some People Prey Upon Other People."

"Some people prey upon other people."  These words were written by the late great Colonel Jeff Cooper several decades ago in the Introduction to his book, Principles of Self Defense.  Some people prey on others.  This has always been and will continue to be. The percentage of evil people may be small, but that is little comfort to the grandmother on her way to the grocery store when she is suddenly attacked from behind or the older man, unable to retire because of deteriorating economic conditions, seeing a potential predator making a beeline towards him as he walks to work from the parking lot or bus stop.
What changes as we age is our ability to protect ourselves and our loved ones.  Couple this with the view by these sociopaths that we are weak and therefore easily culled from the herd and the potential for mayhem increases.  Every day older folks are attacked for their money, their possessions or simply because the animals think we are easy prey.  The police are there to serve and protect, but, “When help is needed in seconds, the police are only minutes away.”
As we age, a sense of loss of control can lead to a downward spiral of emotion and a feeling of helplessness.  This does not have to be.  We can fight back.
I am here to share with you stories about folks who have stood their ground, refusing to be victims, and to guide you on both the principles and practice of self-defense.  If trouble comes knocking, I want you to be able to slam the door in its face.
In addition, practicing these movements is a great way to maintain and improve fitness and coordination.