View Full Version : Hand to Hand for the Physically Challenged
December 9, 1998, 03:20 AM
Rich, I'm going to take your suggestion and move my question to the AF/CQF board. Reading the current thread on martial arts and the previous thread on knives still raises a big question for me concerning self defense for novices and those incapable of martial arts training. At 5'8 and 175lbs I'm still in reasonable shape; but a serious back injury has made any athletic training virtually impossible. I suspect others may be in similar circumstances and I have to wonder what value certain defense "modalities" have for those of us who may not be physically able. For example, in my first post on the subject I asked "what value is carrying a knife to a novice?" A novice, of reasonable sense and ability, can generally use a firearm to defend themselves if the need arises. But, is the same true of a knife? Discussions of knives on these boards usually include the catch-phrase "good with..." or "well trained..." Well, to be truth-full, due to physical ability or simply disposition many of us are un-likely to become martial arts experts! What is the role of the defensive folding knife for those of us that have had a great deal more training slicing a sirloin than fending off an attacker? Is the knife an "experts only" weapon? Should a novice leave knives alone? If not, are there particular tactics a novice should observe in deploying the knife? I would ask the same thing about the various martial arts that are discussed on these boards. Frankly, once you guys get rolling, I'd don't even have a vague idea of what you are talking about. My take on your discussions is that I should learn Brazilian Tai Chi from a Lithuanian Buddhist who studied under a Master in Madagascar! Nevertheless, when it comes to knives, martial arts and hand to hand defense what suggestions would those of you who are experienced practitioners have for those of us who may be physically unable to master these various arts. Thanks for your insights into an intriguing topic! Kurt
December 9, 1998, 03:52 AM
Firs of all: You Rock. I wish I had come up with that Lithuanian Budhist thing.
Okay, as to your question, I saw your first post and deferred to those on the list who are more blade oriented than I. But, now you have brought up a bigger picture, which I will happily address.
In fact, I alluded to this in another thread:
Fighting should be simple. Defense should be based on the lowest common denominator and individually improved upon as appropriate.
People are severely beaten everyday by BGs (that means Bad Guys if you are out there Jeff ;)) who haven't any idea how to count to ten in Japanese.
I heard about a school of martial arts in NYC (New York City) that was run exclusively for people who were in wheelchairs. Apparently these guys were pretty damn effective, too.
Of course, you are not in a wheelchair and I haven't heard about any schools for guys with bad backs. The perfect solution would be to explain your situation to a capable trainer of *any* self-defense techniques and see what he can work out for you. Perhaps there are some maneuvers someone can suggest that you can handle and are effective.
You might try one of the Canemaster cane techniques that have been discuss elsewhere on the site. I am only vaguley familar with them, but hopefully they have considered that people who actually need canes might want to use theirs.
Unfortunately, reality may be that you are not going to be able to effectively mount a defense. I am not saying this to discourage you, please don't think that is the case. I know what it is like to have a really bad back and your physical options amy be very limited. My father had to retire from police work because of a back injury (falling off a second story porch with a 300lb BG on top of you will do that) and he hasn't been the same since, he has good days and bad days, has gone through several surgeries and is still no where near as capable as he once was.
The fact that you are even asking these questions indicates that you will find the right answers. IMHO, the knife is like any other tool, it requires a certain amount of skill to use effectively. As you said the amount of skill required for sirloin would be measurably less than the skill required for fighting with Mr. Mad Dog and not coming out looking like a swept up ticker-tape parade stirred into a bloody mary.
I have had very little formal knife training, but I like to think I can apply some HTH (hand-to-hand) techniques and knowledge of the human body to hold my own if it ever came down to a knife fight.
Meanwhile: I've got guns.
December 9, 1998, 10:23 AM
I'm neither a martial arts expert, an operator nor do I find myself in regular altercations. As a fellow student (your very presence here grants you that position), I think I'd like to take a stab at this.
Some weapon is better than no weapon. Some training is better than no training. Mad Dog has a sign in his workout area which roughly translates to: "Remember, if you are not training, someone else is. When you meet that person on the field of battle, you will loose".
Well, based on that, Walt Marshall might someday be taken in a gunfight; Harry Humphries might go out in a Close Quarters Combat situation; Mike Mello in a HTH battle, etc.
The point is not that we become "expert"; just a bit better than we were last week or yesterday. If you look at it from that standpoint, your physical limitations are the constraint within which you will train, not a reason to avoid training.
When it comes to deadly force, especially the Edged Weapon, mental training is an extremely important first step. You need to really investigate your ability to plunge a blade into an opponent's soft spots; whether you're prepared to slash an extremity, and sense the tendons snap and let go like banjo strings. This is ugly stuff, but the alternative is often more ugly.
Once you've decided that you will, if required, defend yourself with whatever it takes, the single major cause of defeat is removed IMHO. The rest is all technique.
Look at the "tactical folder", for instance. If you carry a folder, it is incumbent that you practice deploying it while standing, sitting, moving or grappling. Whether you wish to learn to employ it in a reverse grip, for hooking and trapping etc, is completely up to you.
My point is that the trained fighter, who hesitates due to the need to ruminate the fight or flight decision, will probably loose to the man with a physical limitation, who is willing to do what it takes. Now, begin to add techniques (training) and your chances of surviving a trand and prepared opponent increases proportionately.
December 9, 1998, 01:06 PM
The most important thing in starting a self defense strategy is to determine YOUR most significant risks. Your life style, where you live, and what level of awaeness you're willing to commit to are the determining factors in what level of tactics and training you need to develop. If your not on a swat team you don't usually need to learn swat team tactics. If you aren't going to compete in tkd, vale tudo, or no holds barred competitions you don't need those individualized skills.
Situational awareness skills are the building block to all levels of self defence. If you are unaware of an impending attack even the best trained Rambos will lose to a dedicated assault. No weapon can protect you from a baseball bat from behind.
Assess your situational risk and begin to build specific responses which take into account your physical and psychological abilities. You must be dedicated and willing to use the tecniques in which you train.
knives are excellent close quarters defensive tools against unarmed physical assaults - even for minimally trained individuals. Learn to present the knife quickly and quietly, blade front and back, with both hands, from any position. Learn less lethal and lethal target areas and practice cutting with both hands from various positions. Mentally prepare yourself for blood, mess, and screaming. All of this can be done on your own (use common sense)in a very short period of time.
Require a much higher dedication to training. Learn and apply a sound use of force continuum. Learn all facets of gunhandling - gun concealment, use of cover, presentation, firing accurately, retention, and aftermath survival. This training can be long and frustrating if you attempt it yourself, it can be expensive if you pay good instructors.
Less lethal options (O.C. spray, batons, ect):
Most of the available options require item specific training to be used efectively. They are then effective in limited situations. My personal results of using less than lethal devices has been very hit and miss. I like to have the options but I never count on them working.
Hard and soft empty hands techniques:
There are some very effective, easily learned, and easily applied techniques available. A good weekend seminar from a reputable trainer can provide most people with a sound basis in this type of defense. The downside to these techniques is that you must be in contact with the advesary - and that allows Mr. Murphy to get more involved.
I have found that the more I train the more I want to train. It becomes addictive. You learn just how vulnerable you are.
My last comment is that luck can play the greatest role in any self defense scenario. Just read the self defence column in the NRA rags. Train for the worst and hope for luck.
December 9, 1998, 01:13 PM
As Rich was indicating, the first step to self-protection is a firm belief in the sanctity of your own body, and your inviolate right to be unmolested. (What one of John Wayne's characters described as "being willing.")
As far as the mechanics go, even one with some disability can find a system that uses the body in motion to generate power. If you can walk without undue strain, you can generate all the power you need. A good teacher can help you focus on techniques that will not strain your back.
As Rich further indicated, having a weapon is a great second step after mental conviction to not go quietly. Simple movements usually work best, unless you are one of the few dedicated enough to spend years achieving physical mastery.
If you would like to e-mail me, I would be happy to attempt to locate a good teacher close enough for you to visit.
December 9, 1998, 03:18 PM
I don't think I could do justice to the excellent responses to your question. But please allow me to add these thoughts. I have known excellent "martial artists" that have had their clocked cleaned on the street (it's always kinda funny pulling up on a call with a guy on his back, bleeding from the nose, wearing "I attend the worlds greatest martial arts school" shirt and standing over him is a drunk longshoreman). And I have known individuals that have never been in fights in their entire lives scare the crap out of attackers, without ever throwing a blow. There are no secrets.
Training in anything within you capabilities is better than nothing. You can take a knife just about anywhere and not have to worry about ammo or airport security. But the bottom line is, its better to win the battle without firing a round (my Sun Tzu paraphrase). Train for awareness, its cheap, you don't have to bow alot or learn to count in Japanese.
ps. I can feel for you on the back issue, a couple of on duty traffic accidents and the weight of gray hair has taken its toal.
December 9, 1998, 08:52 PM
Hi, Kurt. I may be out of my league saying this, but FWIW, Bruce Lee had extreme near-sightedness, has one leg an inch shorter than the other, and yes, had a bad back. Of course, he was also in superb physical condition. Still, I've always been somewhat inspired by him in that if he can do it, I don't see why we can't. Then again, it is easy for me to say that since I'm not the one suffering from a bad back.
Personally, the way I look at it is that to become resolved in defending yourself is to make a choice in life that otherwise would have been made for you. If a BG is going to victimize us, they're going to victimize us regardless of what physical condition we are in. Bad back or not, if we have no choice but to fight, we will have to fight.
About knives. On a base level, my personal opinion about knives is that they are useful tools to have around. Almost everyday, I use them in some sort of menial tasks. Tactically, at the very least, the tool will provide you with a weapon advantage that might just be enough to save your bacon. Of course, it would be better to to rely on more than just that. So for more information, I recommend checking the sister site, http://www.bladeforums.com
I sympathize with your plight. Best wishes. :)
[This message has been edited by SB (edited 12-09-98).]
December 10, 1998, 02:28 PM
Hey, bud. I'm not an expert in these things, but I may have some insite for you.
I have trained in Shudokan Karate-Do, dabbled in Tae-kwan-do, trained exstensively in Kenjuitsu, and of course what the military taught me in hand-to-hand for the battlefield (kinda like Judo with a knife). Having said all that, I'm about a lifetime away from being a master in any of it.
While on active duty, I sustained an injury that left me with only 30% use of my left arm (yes, I was a lefty, of course)
I had to completely re-train myself to shoot as well as hand to hand techniques.
The first thing you should do is visit some local Dojo's of different arts and respectfully ask to observe a class. Some will let you, some may not. While observing, watch how they execute punches, blocks, and kicks. Determine whether or not your back could take it( I do not know the extent of your injury, but there are some techniques and exercises that will strengthen the muscles of the back) REALLY REALLY study blocking techniques, if they cant hit you, they cant hurt you. Since your injury is to your back, I'd stay away from an art that involves alot of throws or leverage. You may have to modify some techniques because of you injury.
Whichever art you decide on, I'd like you to remember one thing, and others here have eluded to it. It doesnt take 15 years in an art to win a fight. It takes a Warrior's mind. I have seen guys who are extremly knowledgeable in their art and have been practicing for years go down in a fight. The reason is, IMHO, is because they may be outstanding martial artists, but they're not Warriors. A fight is a fast moving, ever- changing thing. Its not Kata. Whichever art you choose, please just make sure that if it comes down to using your skill, make sure it is quick, brutal, decisive, and unquestionably effective. THAT is how to stay alive in a hand to hand battle, again, my humble opinion.
If you'd like to converse more on this subject, please feel free to e-mail me, ok?
December 10, 1998, 08:15 PM
I saw a tape of an interview with my dojo cho, Bud Malstrom, on a news program years ago. Bud was encouraging those with disabilities to become involved in the martial arts. He then took a non-martial artist in a wheelchair, and in less than ten minutes, showed them a technique that allowed them to pin an assailant against a wall. (I believe the "attacker" worked at the tv station, and was not just cooperating.)
As to what o1paw was saying, good call. The Bujinkan focuses mostly on getting offline of the attack. Typically, that is the "block". Striking the limb is usually just to damage the weapon.
December 11, 1998, 11:54 PM
Thanks to everyone for some really terrific commentary. It is a little late for a long post and I want to spend some time digesting everyone's remarks.
This thread has given me some ideas for combining training with therapy; which might help many of us back sufferers get more motivated. Your posts have provoked some questions on that; but I will save them for now.
In the meantime thanks for the comments and most of all for some great encouragement!
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