The Flashlight and the Gun

Posted in Princples and Theory, Technique, Weapons with tags , , , , , , on January 6, 2011 by bigstickcombat

If you own a gun, a flashlight isn’t necessarily something you can dismiss now that you’ve got real 

Nebo Redline Tactical Flashlight

firepower. You see, a cardinal rule of self-defense shooting is : NEVER SHOOT ANYTHING YOU HAVE NOT CLEARLY IDENTIFIED.

Violation of this simple rule causes countless tragedies that are totally unnecessary. One Monday morning at work we got the call for an early, unscheduled faculty meeting. This is never good, because it almost always means something bad has happened over the weekend. In this case, the fathers of two students had gone deer hunting over the weekend. One hunter shot at movement in the brush, which he thought was a deer. Tragically, he had shot his friend to death.

Imagine living with the burden of having shot your own friend to death. What is so sad is that this was completely avoidable.

Now suppose that you get up one night, grab your gun, and see an ominous silhouette in the shadows of the kitchen, so you shoot. Only then do you discover it is your daughter coming in late from a party, the wife who couldn’t sleep and decided to take some medicine, or the son who was hungry and raided the fridge.

If you have a gun in your home, here is a simple and life-saving rule: NOBODY MOVES IN THE HOUSE WITHOUT TURNING ON A LIGHT. This means that anyone who gets up to go to the bathroom or fridge, who decides to check on the dog, who comes in late from a party, etc., turns on a light at the earliest opportunity and turns on lights wherever he or she goes.

Your flashlight now becomes critical to identifying threats and potential targets. There are several methods for wielding a flashlight and a pistol at the same time.

The Harries Method

The Chapman Method

The Rogers Method. In one variation, the fingers hold the flshlight like a cigar. The purpose of this grip is to enable you to get several extra fingers on the pistol grip.

The Modified FBI Method. The idea is to hold the light off center, so anyone who aims at the light will likely miss you


The Neck Position. This is a modified FBI. Note the hand is ready to strike, and there is cover at the head and neck.

(These pictures were found here, where you can go for further info.)


Semi-Impromptu Weapon: The Black and Decker Flashlight

Posted in Resources and Product Reviews, Weapons with tags , , on January 5, 2011 by bigstickcombat

I’m a believer in a small flashlight as a great combination of a useful tool and a semi-impromptu weapon.

Remember, a semi-impromptu weapon is a weapon that fits in your environment, and that you have chosen for its suitability as a fighting tool. For instance, although the single battery flashlights are more compact, I give them a pass because they’re too short to be effective as weapons. The semi-impromptu weapon is strategically placed (or carried) so that you have access to it.

The personal flashlight comes in handy at the movie theater. You may think you can get by in a darkened theater just fine –until you drop your keys or cellphone.

As a teacher I’ve had the power go out at school. In a room with only one small window in the corner, a flashlight comes in handy. I drive to school in the dark, and have had to put oil or coolant in the car in the early morning in the country, where there are few street lights.

I bought this Black and Decker flashlight at Wal-Mart yesterday for less than 10 bucks. Ideally, I’d buy one of the nice “tactical” flashlights (like the Surefire Defender), but my budget is not cooperating. The flashlight is a little on the long side, but I find that good if I have to strike with it.

The flashlight also has a clip on it, which may come in handy. I also like a push button on/off switch. One aggravation of the mini-mag lights is that you have to twist the light on or off, which makes it a two-handed operation.

Another neat feature of the Black and Decker is that you can press the light on, and then back off on the pressure so the light goes off. This means if you stumble across some hoodlum with a pistol in your garage, you don’t have a flashlight stuck in the “on” position.

When buying a flashlight, look at lumens, which is a measure of a flashlight’s power. My flashlight is 60 lumens, which isn’t bad. Some I looked at had lumens in the low teens, which is pretty much useless.

Black and Decker Flashlight

Now some might say, “No thanks, I have a gun; I don’t need a flashlight.” Don’t be so sure. In my next post I’ll talk about the role the flashlight plays in defensive pistol use.


P.S.  As a side note, the other day at MacDonald’s I saw a guy wearing a fanny pack and a small flashlight (like a mini-mag) in a holster. I would have bet several hundred dollars there was a gun in his fanny pack. Luckily I wasn’t about to pull an armed robbery.

If you carry a concealed pistol, can you be less obvious?

Do you really need a fanny pack to conceal a pistol in record cold temperatures?

Real Life Combat: Staff vs. Hammer

Posted in Commentary, Real Life Combat, Videos with tags , , on January 3, 2011 by bigstickcombat

Robber (on left) wields stick in bat grip. The clerk has a hammer.

A robber with a staff-length stick can be seen robbing a store here. My estimate is that the stick is a least 6 feet long.

The clerk counters with a hammer, but unfortunately, he’s totally ineffective.

A couple of points:

1)  While bat grip can be very powerful, the staff is too long to wield it effectively with bat grip (i.e., gripping the staff with both hands at one end like a baseball bat).

Tapado uses a short staff that is about 4 feet in length. I feel this is the maximum length for effective use of bat grip. The problem for the robber is that the clerk is well outside his reaction range –in other words, by the time the robber can deliver the end of the stick to the target, the clerk has plenty of time to evade.

The clerk doesn’t even have to evade the strike completely: Simply by moving in two feet, he is well inside the power zone at the tip of the stick. The length of the stick is simply too slow for bat grip.

My thinking in Big Stick Combat is to shorten the striking radius. My intent is to hit as hard as the 4 foot short staff, while moving in a tighter radius and thereby being able to blast someone with the end of the stick before he can see it coming and counter.

The robber needs to change his grip –say to the Dragon Pole method, in order to tighten his striking radius and pull off multiple strike combinations.

2)  I don’t know why the clerk raises the hammer. Perhaps it is a threatening gesture. Raising the hammer puts stress on his arm. He might as well just rest the hammer on his shoulder.

Every time the robber moves to strike, the clerk snaps the hammer forward –What the #@$!? The correct move is either forward, to get inside the stick’s power zone, or upward to block or parry –possibly both.

3)  As the robber starts to climb over the counter, the clerk moves to go over the counter and out the door at the other end. This is a smart chess move. If the clerk leaves, the robber may not be able to get the money.

4)  The clerk’s opportunity is at 1:03, when the robber clambers over the counter. At that point he can’t strike with the stick/staff, and is crouched, only with his head potentially right in front of a hammer. This is the point for the clerk to burst forward and blast the robber.

5)  The robber and clerk are toe-to-toe. At this point the clerk with the hammer should totally blast him. This is part of my reasoning for opting for the shorter (36 inch) stick –I have better options in close if it comes to that. Up close, the hammer will hit harder and tighter than the 6 foot staff.

Unfortunately, the clerk is just some guy without any training or skill trying to do his best in the circumstances. Training doesn’t make you immortal, but you certainly ought to be able to crush a guy with a 6 foot staff in this situation.

New Years Resolutions

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 1, 2011 by bigstickcombat

In the upcoming year I plan to move over to my own hosted site, not a wordpress site. This means I’ll be able to include videos in my posts.

I’m also working on my own home photography studio so I can include more videos and expand my line of instructional books and videos. I plan to have a video for Big Stick Combat out this year.

I also welcome your feedback on features you like and don’t like that I currently do, as well as features or topics you would like to see me include. For instance, I’ve thought of including fitness tips, such as weight loss, nutrition, and workout advice.

My goal is to become the number one martial arts blog on the web. I’d be interested in any links to other sites that serve as a model of where I need to be and how I can improve.

Thanks to everyone who read and contributed to my blog this past year.

NOT My Plan for 2011!


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.