View Full Version : Some questions for Mr. Humphries...

Don R
November 3, 1998, 10:47 AM
As per the GSGI Classes, could you enumerate the times in which even a person armed with a Handgun [CCW] would/could/should use the "tactical" folding edged weapon over the handgun as well as empty hand, O.C. Pepper and Impact Weapons such as the ASP...

I'm not new to all of this, I'm just new here, and I'm interested in the GSGI way of doing things!

By the way, what is your folder of choice? I have two E.Emerson Commanders and a couple Bud Nealy Fixed Blades that suit my purposes just fine.

Harry Humphries
November 3, 1998, 12:02 PM
Good question Don.
I suppose I could be cute and go to the old adage of never bringing a knife to a gun fight, but it is not that simply answered.

As I understand your question you are addressing a force continuum decision process. Under what conditions the folder should be used over the hand gun, physical strikes or hand to hand techniques, chemical irritants, and impact weapons.

As a law enforcement officer one is bound to comply with appropriate force escalation meeting the threat level involved - that's simple - the edged weapon now becomes the last choice or as a weapon of last resort. An example would be a multi threat situation where your partner, if there, and yourself are involved in individual battle gone bad and you are on the ground unable to retrieve the hand gun - the ASP is worthless as a blunt weapon close in unless you can apply pain compliance techniques but that is unlikely. The edged weapon now becomes weapon of choice in conjunction with appropriate grapple compliance techniques. It is therefore essential that the weapon is always carried in a manner facilitating deployment in ground grapple situation. I find low front strong side around the belt area accommodates this.

As a private citizen one is not compelled to comply with force continuum per say, but we must assume the citizen is in a defensive situation and even here reasonable force to stop a threat or perceived threat to one's life will be judged.. Being aware that brandishing a weapon, gun or knife, can lead to escalation or even put you in the wrong in some states, hello Californians, the weapon of choice should meet the threat level at the time threat is perceived to be immanent and not before. Simply stated the weapon should not be deployed, knife or gun, to simply impress or intimidate the opponent.

Without getting carried away let it suffice to say further that my personal choice for a defensive weapon is the edged weapon for close in encounters, it is deployed only at the onslaught of attack in a total surprise to the attacker. Now that does not mean that I would not present a hand gun if available in the same situation. Really the situation dictates the decision.

Often a charging individual from as far away as 20 to 30 feet can reach a victim before the victim can present a pistol, especially from a retention type holster whereas the folder can be deployed rapidly and meet the oncoming threat so as to inflict damage enabling the escape.

My favorite folder is Emerson's Commander and I have a litany of fixed blades on my favorites list Randall being up there.

Rob Pincus
November 3, 1998, 12:28 PM

Rentention holsters are now the norm for uniformed and some plains clothes officers, but for civilians IWB holsters are extremely popular, many of these designs, including the ones I use, are open top. I find it hard to see a big time difference in pulling a knife clipped to my front pocket and pulling a gun from a strongside IWB holster.
In this situation, do you really feel the knife is quicker?

Don R
November 3, 1998, 12:46 PM

I'm not going to answer for Harry, instead I'll give you my take on it and Harry can shoot me down or correct me, whatever he wishes to add. Let me say first of all that I'm from the Knifer Sect, but I own defensive firearms too, and I believe everything has its place.

For my money, if the handgun is deflected or momentarily disabled, which is easy to do, anything that impedes the slide on a semi-auto handgun can cause a stoppage. I believe that it is a toss up in close quarters, gun or knife. Knives do not get "stopped" so readily, they cut their way out of problems. There is a major misunderstanding as to just what a razor sharp knife can do.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, in CQC, anything and everything goes and flies and nothing but skill is a sure bet. Distance favors the marksman while it is the enemy of the knifer, i.e., I don't think it matters much which you can get out faster, I think you can draw a knife or gun very fast. The problem as I see it is, if the guy gets to your gun before the muzzle covers him, and he has a knife, you are in trouble. If he gets to your knife and you can cut your way out, well...I think you get the idea.

I'm on my second cup of coffee and I'm not quite awake yet, I don't know if I explained my thoughts clearly enough.

November 3, 1998, 01:14 PM
Knife VS Gun speed...
I think this depends on the person - and what that person is used to draw. I have carried knives and guns most of my life. (I have photos of me in diapers with a gunbelt and six shooter) I am pretty fast whipping out my Spydercos and Benchmades - still working on being fast with my Emerson... Pretty fast is not fast enough. I am much faster with my guns. Muscle Memory plays a factor - I can draw my gun like it was just a muscle twitch - from a behind the hip concealment rig - or from my Bastardized Desanti/Safariland rig ( Lowride-Jacket slot set up).
We did that 21 foot knife attack test - The guy closed to 18 before Simunition rounds started impacting his chest.
I am not bragging - merely pointing out your training - experience - skill all add up into what is the best reaction. There are a lot of things I really suck at. Like line dancing...

Rob Pincus
November 3, 1998, 01:23 PM
I, and one of the guys I train with, have been able to nail people before they reached us with during the knife attack drill too, without backpeddling.
I find "rushing attacker myth"to be highly dubious. In fact, I have a theory that its popularity is reinforced by intstructors who know that they're students will not practice enough to get really fast. I know one instructor who is definitely fast enough to beat the rushing attacker, but he still uses the myth in his training, rather than challenge his students to get quick.
I have mixed feelings about it. I feel pretty strongly that in a real world situation, which allows movement on the targets part, using of the off hand for blocks/strikes (or throwing donuts...), and other environmental factors, someone has got to be a lot closer than 20 feet to insure that they can cause damage before the gun is out and pumpin'.

[This message has been edited by Rob (edited 11-03-98).]

Rich Lucibella
November 3, 1998, 01:51 PM
Rob and Kodiac-
One of the things you have to take into account in the "rushing attack" drill is that bullets don't immediately stop the fight in many cases and holster to head shot is a tough one with the attacker getting the jump from 20 feet.

If I were take an edged weapons person with skill comparable to yours with the handgun (Harry, Hilton, Kevin McClung or Ernie Emerson come to mind), I'd venture to say that fight might be stopped more quickly by the defender holding the knife than the one holding the gun...it would almost certainly be stopped with greater finality.

I'm not necessarily advocating the use of the knife over the handgun at any range. But it does have it's advantages at very close range or when the attacker is already on you; also makes some sense in crowded rooms.

btw: Walt once demonstrated an alternative to the 20 foot rush which even works for those with normal reaction times: As you draw the weapon and the attacker closes, side step to strong side, turn and take a bead on the back of his (passing) head. What you choose to do at that point is you call.

Rob Pincus
November 3, 1998, 02:01 PM
Rich, the last scenario you mentioned is exactly the type of thing I was talking about. The standard rushing attacker drill calls for the target to stand still while he draws, which is just not realistic.

It is true that a handgun is not going to stop the momentum of a rushing knife attacker, and even if an OSS is achieved on the draw, the attacker may still reach the target and cause damage, if the knife is still out and failing. BUT, Of course, if you are waiting to engage with a knife, you take the risk of dealing with someone who may be skillful or lucky at contact range.

November 3, 1998, 02:34 PM
My academy called it a "shuffle-pivot".
You side step and turn in on the attacker just as you guys mentioned. This is also the basic move done in a lot of other situations and HTH etc... Same as a matador does when he bluffs the bull.
I doubt even the Infamous Mr Platt would have a hard time closing 18 after taking a chest full of 135gr +P .40 cal Cor-bons. The rounds FBI Agent Mereles (However you spell the name) used, are in a much lower bracket of ability.
(That situation still gets me steamed. The agent should have had the game over with his first 6 rounds... shooting over the hood of his car into the side window of Platt's car as they were parked fender to fender. He failed in my opinion leading to the injury of 4 other agents and 2 agent's deaths. You should practice shooting before you take a job where you may need to shoot.)

Rich, You mean the Bad Guys don't fly back 12 feet when hit by bullets? http://www.thefiringline.com/ubb/wink.gif

Ah, yeah... I need to go get my Dr. Pepper now...

Rich Lucibella
November 3, 1998, 03:07 PM
Good points all.
Note how I cleverly(?) avoided putting a knife into the attacker's hand. I was referring to an unarmed attacker, as I would never engage in a knife on knife fight if I had a firearm and some room to move.

Some trainer (Ernie?) once said something to the effect that the difference between the winner and looser of a knife on knife contest is that the winner dies a little bit later than the looser.

Don R
November 3, 1998, 04:47 PM
I think we need to separate Law Enforcement and Civilian, i.e., concealed vs. not concealed.

Although LEO's have the ever-present spectre (no, not you Spectre!) of IA, etc., looming over them and second-guessing them, if an off-duty LEO brandishes because he THINKS, something is wrong, he will not get blasted. A Civilian CCW holder will lose the permit and possibly be charged as well.

I'm not talking about the Magical Distance of 21 Feet necessarily nor am I concentrating on the "Tueller Drill" that made 21 the Magic Number. Although that Drill is a good drill to give you ideas and practice, let me give you a clue as to what I'm talking about.

Many others in cyber-territory far away, have made statements about Cooper's Color Codes and whatnot, again, it has its place. I live in a real world with real problems, I get distracted, I'm not a robot. The normal flat tires, bills getting paid and sick child applies. Things happen and I'm not for one minute going to put my faith in living in a certain color like it is a religion. I believe it is an idea to be given thought and it is to be applied whenever possible, but it is not something that can honestly be accomplished all the time. That is my opinion and I could be wrong, but as for me, I'm on the money of course...

I've heard others talking about awareness, to the point they cross streets or go the long way around to the point of absurdity, to avoid a 30-foot stretch of darkness, I live in a real world where there are dark areas (darkness can be your friend as well as foe), corners, tight spots and stairwells. All of these things get lost in discussions because people pull out the magical words, "Be aware." That is fine, but don't think you're going to live under the glow of a streetlight all the time.

The only assault cue you are likely to get on the street is the abrupt "chirp" of a dirtbag's tennsi shoes before he is on you. It will not be the loud beep or buzz of something like a Timer. The assault cues could be a Thread all by itself....

A couple years ago, A Baltimore City Police Officer was responding to a call and while going up stairs, was pounced on by a criminal with an icepick. I do not remember the outcome, but I do know the Officer went to Shock Trauma. The guy was on him so fast he could not draw, the guy stabbed him several times in the left shoulder and left side of the neck, he stabbed him once so hard it went clear through the Motorola Speaker/Mic on his shoulder. This is what I speak of.

November 3, 1998, 05:02 PM
Ouch... That is ugly. Those Motorola units are expensive.
Most of us understand that the impact of a hit on you is not the end of the fight - but the beginng.

*walking away thinking about an ICEPICK in the clavical - thats gotta hurt...*

November 3, 1998, 05:43 PM
Very funny, Don. http://www.thefiringline.com/ubb/smile.gif

Personally, my CS folder is carried in an "open and exposed manner" as per GA law, which says that knives carried for offense or defense must be carried in such manner. (Though of course my knife is just a tool!) As such, my folder is usually a little faster into action than my P-40 or G23. It doesn't hurt that I practice a lot of knife presentation, either.

We were doing sword evasion in class today. Nothing like a few good wacks with a shinai to keep you honest. In evading one with a knife- in this case, a REALLY BIG knife- timing and distance are everything. Some have suggested that practicing a knife draw with reaction hand will buy the time to present PDF with dominant side. I am of course interested in what Mr. Humphries thinks of that idea.

[This message has been edited by Spectre (edited 11-03-98).]

Don R
November 3, 1998, 07:11 PM

I have fond teenage memories of seeing Bud on 20/20 wacking slow students on the ankles, with a shinai, who did not jump high enough fast enough. The guy always has a smile on his face and is such a treasure to everyone who is serious about martial arts. Thanks for the memory http://www.thefiringline.com/ubb/smile.gif When you see him, tell him soneone out there remembers how they tried to take him out of context, he came across well...

Harry Humphries
November 4, 1998, 11:38 AM
Well Don looks like you stirred up a hot topic. You all bring up valid points. Many people have exceptional skills, some are blessed with natural speed and/or an ability to deal with shock encounters without going through momentary denial and suffer from the paralyzing effects of hormonal induced heart rate increase (Adrenalin cocktail, if you will). Most of us have to constantly dry fire or practice presentation to maintain a smooth execution but to simply have a bit of jacket or shirt or changed holster position influence that smooth presentation you can count on lost moments that may lead to defeat (Murphy 101).

Under stress the corrective process can be quite humorous to watch, I have seen very experienced people get so focused on actuating (fighting ) a pump action shotgun forstock and totally forget to simply actuate the release. I'm sure all of you have seen similar apparent loss of skill under stress. This is a normal reaction under stress when one is at a point of reduced fine motor skill. In fact everyone under enough- yes everyone- stress or operating under massive hormonal dump will lose almost all fine motor skills. This is when the gross motor skills take over and we tend to muscle through the problem or simply freeze mentally and physically. It is with this in mind that one should not take for granted that one would do what is obvious in any situation under extreme stress. Think of doe eyes fixed on head lamps of an oncoming vehicle - that's what really can and often does happen in an attack unless of course you are training for just such an encounter. We instructors need to use the onrushing attacker drill to demonstrate the spatial relationship with reaction time. There is definitely a place for this drill. You folks out there that are beating the 21 foot rush are doing exactly what the drill is meant to do - train through the problem. The simple truth is that the majority of the student population out there are not able to beat the rush and in fact often freeze in the draw stroke mid way from leather to muzzle on desired point of impact. The knife wheeler simply puts the blade out in a fencing or reverse grip and administers a slash or stab to the torso, arm or, if good the neck

The good news is that practicing presentations over and over under all conceivable conditions with a hand gun and/or folder, if you are inclined to use it as a primary or back-up defensive weapon will create a habituated response that will instinctively bring you through this freeze zone. You will never think through the problem under stress - your defensive actions must be natural or instinctive - this can only be instilled through repetitive training both physical and visualized.

With respect to Jeff Cooper's color code or conditions of awareness, this is usually presented as a teaching aid, to identify conditions of mind set for a student and emphasize that yellow or relaxed awareness will go a long way in preventing one from entering the valley of the shadow of death. No panaceas here guys just a method of creating awareness in an otherwise totally unaware potential victim.

Knife over Gun still is dictated, in my mind, by situation. Knife and gun, the best of both worlds, creates a lot more in the way of personal arsinal, doesn't it.


Don R
November 4, 1998, 03:02 PM

You explained in a very concise manner, exactly what I was trying to get across.

I am not "against" Mr. Cooper's Color Code or the Tueller 21-Ft. Drill, all I was trying to say is, whatever your wishes, sometimes it does not work out that way. Attacks don't always appear in that sterile manner, they just happen, and not usually the way you trained for them to happen.


November 4, 1998, 05:49 PM
Terrific post, Mr. Humphries. The fine motor skill degradation is a constant, and the martial art I study tends to teach very big, large motor skill movements to beginners for just that reason.

November 6, 1998, 07:23 PM
Now I know what we have been doing wrong here in Texas. I thought we wuz just slow.
We always practiced the drill at "17" feet using frustrated track stars as the knife attackers.

November 19, 1998, 06:03 PM
Based on personal experience (and this is not to imply vast experience or anything :)), but you can get a knife and a gun equally fast into action. Yes, you do have to play with the set up and practice it to get it to work right.

Against the "rush", the first priority is not to get the weapon of your choice out, but to respond in such a way to make sure that you don't get killed. THEN, worry about getting your tools out.