Archive for December, 2010

Real Life Combat: Vet and Wife Mobbed at Theater

Posted in Real Life Combat with tags , on December 30, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Marine Vet Freire and His Wife

An Iraq vet and his wife were recently assaulted outside a movie theater in Florida.

He made it home from the Iraq war just in time for Christmas. She was looking forward to a night out with her husband after so much time apart.

But a group of teenagers had other plans for Federico and Kalyn Freire, who were assaulted outside a Florida movie theater after asking the teens to be quiet during a movie on Christmas Day.

Federico Freire, a 28-year-old Marine, and Kalyn Freire were attacked after the couple attended a showing of “Little Fockers” on Saturday in Bradenton, Fla.

“The saddest part about it was that this was our first date night together in a long time,” Freire’s wife, Kalyn, said in an interview Wednesday with “We were just looking to spend some time together.”

Freire, a Florida native stationed at Camp Pendelton in California, said he and his wife asked a group of “obnoxiously loud” teenagers talking on cell phones to “be quiet” during the 8:20 p.m. movie.

“This was my first time back in town from my tour in Iraq,” he said.

Freire said that when the disturbance escalated and the group began cursing, his wife called the manager, who asked several of the teenagers to leave the theater.

The couple said they thought the fracas was over until they walked out of the theater and were assaulted by a mob of menacing teenagers.

“On our way out of the movie theater, my wife gets surrounded with about 10 to 15 girls that were about to attack her,” Freire told “As soon as I saw this I immediately ran and got her out of harm’s way.”

Freire said he was kicked and punched as he and his wife tried to run from the group.

“I leaned down to grab my purse and there were literally 100 teens around us,” Kalyn Freire said, “While the manager was in the corner with his mouth open and not doing anything.”

Freire said one bystander stepped forward and told the couple to follow him to his car, saying he could scare the crowd off with a gun. But before the two reached the man’s vehicle, one of the teenagers said, “I’m going to knock your wife out,” before punching Freire’s wife to the ground, the couple said.

Deputies from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Department responded to the scene and arrested two 15-year-old brothers and charged them with misdemeanor battery.

According to a police report, three others — 16-year-old Ishmael Dunbar, 17-year-old Reginald Gardner and 20-year-old Destiny McNeil — were arrested and charged with felony battery on a law enforcement officer and trespassing.

“All available units were requested to respond to disperse the crowd for officer safety and to restore order,” the police report said. One teenager was stunned by a Taser.

Authorities said the fight attracted about 300 bystanders.

A video of the arrest is here.

It makes your blood boil.

I don’t want to second-guess this vet, but this does bring up the issue of “Back with Reinforcements.” This is where it goes wrong for the master of “The World’s Deadliest Art.” Confronted by a punk at a party, the master of The World’s Deadliest Art counters the punk’s right haymaker and decks him. The young hoodlum regains consciousness a minute later and finds himself lying on the shag carpet. His friends help him stagger outside, and he leaves in disgrace.

Another victory for the master of The World’s Deadliest Art, right?

Not so fast. There are so many ways this scenario can go wrong.

  • The humiliated punk in the meantime has driven home, got the handgun out from under his mom’s bed, and comes back to the party, riddling Mr. Master with lead.

  • Maybe he’s too scared to go into the party and confront the guy who whipped him, so he just sprays the apartment with bullets from the parking lot.

  • He is waiting outside with a crowbar or a butcher knife as Mr. Master leaves an hour and 3 beers later. Mr. Master never sees the punk waiting on the other side of the door.

  • Now 12 of his gangbanger buddies are waiting outside. That your wife, girlfriend, or daughter is with you is not a concern for them, but icing on the cake.

  • You leave the party, only to find your car has had its tires slashed, the sides keyed, and a headlight smashed. Consider yourself lucky.

These scenarios are not just idle speculation. Only yesterday I was reading about a similar situation:

Not long ago I was involved in a discussion about a young biker who had been blown off his barstool by a shotgun blast. What had disturbed me is that he had been involved in an altercation in the bar earlier and had not withdrawn, thereby signing his death warrant. However, an Australian bouncer rightfully commented that the ages between 18 and 24 is where these kinds of lifesaving  lessons tend to be learned — and those who don’t learn them, or aren’t lucky, never get any older. It is only the young and inexperienced who make certain kinds of mistakes.

If you ever have to confront somebody, whether it is physical or verbal, it is time to leave. Especially the guy who backs down and doesn’t fight –he may be looking for a way to get the odds in his favor. Remember, punks are not looking for a fair fight; if they were looking for a fair fight they’d be in boxing.

At the very least, if you leave the movie theater (restaurant, party, etc.) under these circumstances, you need to be in a state of high alert, with your weapon ready (yet concealed). That may mean having a grip on my knife in my pocket, or opening the knife and carrying it concealed in a popcorn bucket, or wrapped in a menu or newspaper.

It makes sense to carry a maglight to the theater, so that at the least is one weapon in your favor.


Kimber Pepper Blaster II

Posted in Resources and Product Reviews, Weapons with tags , on December 29, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Kimber Pepper Blaster II

Kimber has an interesting pepper sprayer that looks like a small gun. It features two shots of OC.

The Pepper Blaster II features a more ergonomic feel and also includes sights! This advanced non-lethal self defense tool stops threats at a safe distance. Small, light, ergonomic and it carries easily in a pocket or purse. The outer body conforms to either a right or left-hand grip, and fits almost any size hand. The Guardian Angel contains two cylinders with powerful concentrations of near pharmaceutical grade OC (oleoresin capsicum), a devastatingly effective inflammatory agent. Driven by pyrotechnic charges, the solution travels at 90 MPH with little chance of cross-contamination, and with enough energy to wrap around glasses or penetrate a face mask. Effect is immediate and lasts for up to 45 minutes. Unlike conventional sprays, the Guardian Angel does not lose pressure over time.

Technical Information: Kimber Guardian Angel Pepper Blaster II Pepper Spray Gel 10% OC

  • Effective range is up to 13 feet. At 13 feet, the pattern is approximately 10″ in diameter.
  • Instantly incapacitates an assailant
  • Revolutionary propulsion operation
  • Jet delivery minimizes cross-contamination
  • Delivers a powerful blasts of OC, a second reserve shot is available as needed
  • Unit is not reusable and should be properly disposed of once both shots are discharged
  • This unit has a 2-year shelf life

    One reviewer mentioned that the old sprayer resembled a cellphone or other electronic device in its pocket profile, while the new one resembles a gun –just a word of caution.

    This may be a good solution for those who cannot carry a firearm, or choose not to.

    Check out a video here.

    SOG Swedge Knives

    Posted in Resources and Product Reviews with tags , , , , on December 27, 2010 by bigstickcombat

    SOG Swdge III

    I was at the magazine rack the other day when I saw in a knife magazine that Brent Beshara, elite soldier and knife designer (as well as a reader of this blog, I’m pleased to say) has designed a set of knives in collaboration with knife manufacturer SOG.

    All 3 feature the innovative Besh Wedge geometry.

    The SOG Swedge I is designed for icepick grip use, with the blade

    SOG Swedge I

    facing outward. The Spyderco Pikal knife I wrote up earlier is designed for a reverse icepick grip, with the blade facing inward.



    My preference is for the blade out. A blade outward design means that with upraised arms in the boxer’s guard, an attacker cuts himself as he attacks. When I trained with Master Ed Planas, we frequently used this grip

    Master Ed Planas. You don't want to face this guy with a Swedge I in his hands!

    The curved blade of the SOG Sedge I means that the point is in alignment with a downward thrust. If you think about the forearm hinging downward at the elbow, a straight bladed knife tip is actually several inches ahead of the point of power, which is right underneath the bottom of the fist and aligned with the arc of the hand.

    In this view of an icepick thrust, the power zone is in a straight plumb line from the bottom the fist. The tip of the knife is several inches beyond that zone.

    If you look at the photo above, if the wielder makes contact with the hand and point of the knife like this, the blade acts as a lever, exerting force to pry the knife out of the fist.

    The SOG Swedge II (There is also a review at the link.) is designed for a saber grip.

    SOG Swedge II

    The SOG Swedge III is essentially a bigger version of the Swedge II.

    SOG Swedge III

    These knives are ideal for those who need both a utility knife (due to their fierce yet solid points) and a self-defense knife.

    The Karate Chop: Weapon or Joke?

    Posted in Technique with tags , , , , , , , on December 23, 2010 by bigstickcombat

    Hillbilly Ninja

    The use of the karate chop in the movies (or as Austin Powers would say, “judo chop”), in TV fight scenes featuring Captain Kirk, and the Hai Karate aftershave,  has lead to the move being popularly regarded as a joke.

    Even the Hillbilly Ninja, a staple of the Jerry Springer show, was a practitioner of the “judy chop.”

    How effective is the karate chop, or maybe I should call it the edge of the hand blow, or knifehand blow.

    According to Bradley Steiner (, the knifehand blow is the premier unarmed self-defense blow.

    The open hand chop (alternately referred to as “the chop”, “the judo chop”, “the edge-of-the-hand blow”, “the side of hand cut”, etc.  is the single best and most important hand strike in unarmed close combat and self-defense

    The open hand chop using the edge of the hand, and the open hand chinjab smash using the heel of the hand are the “primary two” natural hand weapons that every student of unarmed close combat and self-defense must learn…And the most proven of all the war-proven techniques is the open hand, edge-of-the-hand blow. With it, a properly instructed twelve year old girl can send a 200 pound man reeling to th ground. The blow is simple, quick, easily learned, easily retained, and can be employed and applied in more situations and predicaments than we have the patience to list here!

    It is almost amusing to think that karate (in its many forms, versions, and styles) is normally taught as a combat art, yet the primary “natural hand weapon” that receives just about all of the trainee’s practice time is the clenched, normal fist. In sparring and in competition it is clear that the clenched fist is the safest blow to permit individuals to employ “freestyle”. We recall, for instance, numerous times when we were a student of taekwon-do and when, totally by accident, our self or another student would “connect” with a good, solid punch. We were black belts. Yet our “deadly” punches created, at worst, a minor injury (bloody nose, maybe) or, most often, not even that; just a mere momentary annoyance!

    …anyone aspiring to be prepared for combat, had better be damn sure that he’s training for combat. If you have not already done so (and if you are one of our students, or one of Mark Bryans’ students, then you’ve certainly been doing so since you began training) then begin TODAY to throw your focus upon developing an untelegraphed,  powerful, speedy open hand chop to an assailant. It’s not the only hand blow of merit (there are actually considerably more, when you make a comprehensive study of unarmed close combat and hand-to-hand fighting) but it is the King of the Hand Blows For Self-Defense. It’s a great place to start building real world preparedness! In a serious or life-threatening situation (which is the ONLY kind of situation in which a civilized, rational human being should regard as justifying the employment of violence against another human being) chop to the adversary’s temple, side of neck, or throat. Chops across the solar plexus, into the crotch, across the back of the neck (brain stem area), into the kidney,  are also excellent, when the targets offer.


    Many of the Old Texts Feature the Knifehand Blow

    The open hand chop is versatile and reliable. It can be applied much faster than any hold or throw and does not depend upon set positions or stances or even much skill or strength to be effective. It depends upon proper execution, and the element of surprise. For a female, a child, or an elderly person, the blow is a “first resort option”, and no attacker should be treated with even the slightest mercy when he targets someone whom he perceives to be such an “easy victim”. In a situation where two attackers must be contended with, a fast chop TO THE THROAT of one, will quickly reduce the odds, and probably have a dramatic effect on the remaining maggot’s morale! Two or more attackers is always a deadly threat.

    You can profitably train in conditioning the open hand chop by striking anything from dummies and heavy bags to striking posts and steel bars. It is worthwhile to do this, if you’ve the inclination and are very serious about long-term development of abilities. However, even an unconditioned hand that is utilized correctly can impart sufficient trauma to a vital area when using this terrific blow; so train in this technique with determination and confidence!

    I met Instructor Ralph Grasso via a stick fighting forum. He offers some interesting and solid advice on the application of the knifehand blow, and even goes so far at to intermix it with boxing punches. So the knifehand and closed fist punching may not have to be an “either/or” proposition.

    Training the edge-of-hand blows against a boxer

    Personally I have trained with boxers and used the edge-of-hand blows against a welter weight boxer (10-0 record) in N.Y.P.D. He told me that after this experience his arms were finished. I have also effected arrests with edge-of-hand strikes.

    When I work edge-of-hand blows against a boxer, I don’t target specific areas of the arm instead I strike the surrounding area. To make this work, you must move like a boxer yourself and use le tranche accordingly.

    My edge-of-hand blows never travel outside the length of my shoulder line until impact: they are actually shorter than a boxers punch.

    The key to delivering these strikes is to relax the arm while keeping your vertical, horizontal and diagonal edge-of-hand strikes within range of your shoulder line. This principal maintains a natural defense in conjunction with the offensive action of the tranche. Whatever the opponent throws; be it a right cross- it gets hit, an upper cut- it gets hit. Keep in mind that you are not parrying but striking violently at whatever enters within your range. You do this while driving forward.

    Against a boxer there are three training methods in utilizing edge-of-hand strikes. They are; ‘outside left’, ‘outside right’, and ‘inside’. When working to the outside of the boxers jab , you force him to step over and over extend his rear cross. The ‘short’ horizontal edge-of-hand strike, combined with drop-steps, drives the enemy’s jab across his mid line, while the vertical edge-of-hand hacks down inside his right cross.

    I have experimented with this, using boxing gear and baseball shin guards : it is systematically trained slowly at first against lead jabs, progressing to jabbing and crossing. When confident expand to cover defense against feinting, punching, adding in upper cuts at full speed. The defender then gets taught elbow guards and how to combine them with edge-of-hands to destroy the knuckles, forearms and biceps.

    Remember, don’t specifically target the knuckles, wrists or elbows when guarding or chopping at the opponents punches. Also avoid trying to ‘gunt’ a moving arm or fist with your elbows this takes fine motor skills and in real combat, against an aggressive and mobile adversary, will be virtually impossible. Instead use a simple turn of the waist to cover your body with your elbow guards. If you do manage to catch a punch on your elbow then that’s an added bonus- nothing more.

    Please visit the page to see Instructor Grasso in action, particularly an interesting stance and application versus boxing strikes, which I view as the most practical application I’ve seen of the “karate chop” against an opponent who is trying to rain non-stop blows on your jaw –not the typical “freeze frame” karate vs. punch technique. This technique seems similar to the one demonstrated on the Kali Tudo 3 trailer of the Dog Brothers.

    You can see a karate black belt taking out a pimp with a knifehand blow to the neck here.

    Candy Canes as Weapons?

    Posted in Commentary with tags , , on December 22, 2010 by bigstickcombat

    Earlier I wrote about about a man who defeated a drunken knife-wielder by grabbing a two-foot plastic candy cane ornament.


    Members of the Christmas Sweater Club

    In today’s story, a group of high school guys who call themselves the “Christmas Sweater Club” handed out the two-inch, individually wrapped candy canes before school. Something had to be done!

    Now all 10 of them are in trouble because of what they did at their school.

    “They said, ‘maliciously maim students with the intent to injure.’ And I don’t think any of us here intentionally meant to injure anyone, or did,” said Zakk Rhine, a junior at Battlefield High School.

    The boys say they were just tossing small two-inch candy canes to fellow students as they entered school. The ones in plastic wrap that are so small they often break apart.

    Skylar Torbett, also a junior, said administrators told him, “They said the candy canes are weapons because you can sharpen them with your mouth and stab people with them.” He said neither he nor any of their friend did that.

    Next thing they knew, they were all being punished with detention and at least two hours of cleaning. Their disciplinary notices say nothing about malicious wounding but about littering and creating a disturbance.

    I see this as part of a trend, that is much more evident in Britain: as crime goes up and becomes more brutal, politically correct authorities ignore real problems and crack down 

    Look Out! He's Got a Knife!

    on insignificant nonsense. At a time in Britain where drunken hooligans assault innocent people, a disabled man was prosecuted for having a Swiss army knife in the glove box of his car.

    It was that way when I was in California. While gangs were killing kids on tricycles in drive-by shootings, the state made it a felony to own a pair of nunchakus. Now that the family man black belt or even the wannabe “Ninja Bob” can’t get his hands on a pair of nuchakus, the state is safe!

    This also points to the futility of trying to create a weaponless society. I recently saw an episode of “Raw: Lockup,” the TV prison documentary, in which an inmate in the SHU unit of Pelican Bay –the state’s highest security facility– made a knife that looked like a Fairbairn-Sykes dagger. I was amazed by its size and quality. He had used a nail cutter to cut out a knife blank from the steel in his door!

    If candy canes are weapons (and they could be), then you’d better start confiscating pencils, pens, scissors, and rulers.

    The Candy Cane Shank

    Unfortunately, it is often easier to crack down on law-abiding people who won’t resist than to confront the violent thugs who are the real source of trouble. I guarantee I could go into that school and find students who are far more deserving of a crackdown than the Christmas Sweater Club, but no one in the sweater club is going to sock you in the mouth if you get in their faces.

    Real Life Combat: Jewelry Store Shootout

    Posted in Commentary, Real Life Combat with tags , , on December 20, 2010 by bigstickcombat

    A jewelry store owner recently defended himself and his wife:

    In the back room of a humble jewelry store and pawn shop in Houston’s East End Thursday afternoon, a gunman tied Eva Castillo’s wrists tightly — too tightly. She complained of the pain, so he loosened the bindings. Then Castillo’s husband was ordered at gunpoint to put his hands behind his back.

    But Ramon Castillo had a surprise for the gunman and two cohorts, who had announced they were robbing the business.

    Castillo pulled a pistol from his waistband and shot the gunman dead. Then he grabbed a shotgun from his office and engaged in a shootout with the other two armed robbers.

    When it was over, all three robbers were dead — and Castillo, though shot at least three times, was still standing, having successfully defended what was rightfully his.

    It was the third time his shop, Castillo’s Jewelry at 4502 Canal at Super Street, had been robbed since it opened 22 years ago, East End residents said.

    Castillo, 52, apparently did not immediately realize he had been shot, officers said. He walked outside the store and looked around for more gunmen, then went back inside the business, realized he was wounded and untied his 48-year-old wife, who was unharmed, said Houston Police Department homicide investigator M.F. “Fil” Waters.

    Investigators said so many shots were fired inside the jewelry shop in a two- or three-minute span that they could not estimate the number of rounds. “We’ve got bullet fragments all over the place, casings all over the place, shotgun slugs all over the place, so it’s really hard to determine at this point how many rounds were actually fired – but quite a few,” Waters said.

    They said Castillo protects his store like a fortress, using an electronic door to buzz customers in and out. Customers are locked inside the store until they leave. Numerous video cameras are inside. “He’s done everything he can do to secure his business,” Waters said.

    “Somebody would have to be stupid to come rob the place because of the way it’s set up,” said a 30-year-old East End resident who would not give his name. “Everybody in the neighborhood knows how it is – everybody knows once you get in, he has to let you out. When you walk in, he buzzes you in, and when you walk out, he has to buzz you out.”


    1) Note that all of the non-violent measures (buzzers, bars, video cameras, etc.) were not enough. Keep this in mind. You’re constantly being told to “Be alert,” to report suspicious activity, to lock your doors, and so on, which are not necessarily bad ideas, but somehow arming yourself is never mentioned.

    2) He did not allow himself to be tied up. Had he and his wife been tied up, the article might have been about the discovery of two bound bodies at a pawn shop.

    3) He had a big gun. How does a guy defeat 3 men armed with pistols (outside of an action movie)? He had a shotgun. I’ve never owned a shotgun, but I’ve begun to consider it.

    4) In the heat of the moment, you may not realize the extent of your injuries. I’m a believer in being very watchful for a knife. It is too easy to be stabbed and cut without realizing it.

    To Punch or Not to Punch?

    Posted in Commentary, Resources and Product Reviews with tags , , , on December 19, 2010 by bigstickcombat

    Devastated by a Single "Jersey Shore" Punch

    In the discussion on Jeet Kune Do, Dan Inosanto, Ted Wong, Teri Tom and the straight punch, reader Miguel Gutierrez of GEACOM S.O.U.T. reminds me of an important point –punching may not be the most effective street technique.

    Miguel explains that after fracturing his hand in a street altercation, his talks with bouncers and others who had fought in real life revealed that hand injuries are more common than many people realize. His answer is to go to the WWII era combatives, and the methods found in classics like “Kill or Be Killed,” which rely less on punching.

    Even though in real life people do get knocked out on the street with punches, like in the “One Shot” Jersey Shore episode, it is still a valid question: Are punches valid on the street? Does punching pose as serious a risk to the puncher as to the person being hit?


    Is punching better suited to the ring than the street? Is the effectiveness of boxing as a style

    Old School Hand Conditioning

    dependent upon some type of hand protection? This may be why so many of the classical styles emphasized hand/fist conditioning, like the makiwara board.

    In downtown Cebu City I train in a small gym. The equipment is basic and much of it is handmade. There is a punching bag, but it’s harder than a rock. I wrap my fists, but I still have to go easy on my punches because it’s too easy to injure my knuckles. However, I find I can do my rear elbow shot  repeatedly, full force, without problems. The lesson for me is that if it comes down to combat on the street and I am trying to shut someone down via blunt force trauma to the skull, an elbow is a better choice than a fist.

    Let me raise an idea that might not have occurred to you. As I write this, there is snow on the ground, and it is not out of place for a person to wear gloves. Why not buy gloves that enable you to hit harder?

    Gloves with Hard Knuckle Protectors

    For instance, at Amazon, you can buy Kevlar gloves with hard knuckle protectors. With these, you could punch freely with less worry about injuring your hand. You can also buy cut -resistant gloves. I also saw a protective, cut-resistant sleeve. Citizens can buy knife and bullet proof jackets and clothing.

    Should these items be on your Christmas wish list?