Sunday, 30 September 2012

How not to Charm a Girl

            I have talked about awareness often in this blog and my book. Not only is paying more attention to your surroundings a good defence strategy, it can also be educational and entertaining. Perhaps you have gathered by now I am something of a people watcher.

            So, I am sitting in the pub last night, waiting for one and hopefully both of the exceptional women I have invited will turn up soon. Two girls join me at my table. One we will charitably call “cuddly”. She may have been carrying a bit more weight around the middle than was good for her, but her face was slim and quite pretty and she has nice ringleted hair. Her friend reminds me of Eileen Daly from “Razor Blade Smile” (below), which is no bad thing in my book. She wears a lace fronted top that displays very pleasant expanse of sideboob and upper belly. Their manners are pleasant too. We exchange a few words and jokes and chat a little before I let them resume their conversation. Basically these are two decent looking, pleasant girls and I might have paid them more attention if I had not already arranged to meet my other friends.

            After a while two lads approach the table. I think I had nipped to the bar to get a drink so the girls appeared to be on their own. Trying to chat up a girl when she is with a man is of course generally a bad idea, irrespective of the actual relationship between them. You are effectively saying that man is a nonentity and beneath consideration. These guys had approached politely and respectfully and the girls were obviously keen to talk to them, I had my own company on the way so I sat back to enjoy the show. What was particularly funny was that this bar was very noisy and it became evident that the only person hearing both sides of the conversation was me.

Guy “We don’t want to interrupt!”

Girl “You need to grow up? Ok!”

            Things progress, or not as the case may be. The Australian guy hits it off with “Ringlets” and before long they are side by side, leaning in towards each other and finding excuses to touch each other. Virtually textbook. On the other side of the table “Eileen” is obviously not doing so well. In fact I wouldn’t have needed my body reading skills, since several times she looked across, made eye contact with me and gave me as exasperated look. “Eileen” rolled a cigarette and announced she was going outside for a smoke. Trying to give this guy a bit of a clue, since he didn’t seem to have one, I asked:-

                        “You not going to join her?”

                        “I don’t smoke” he said, oblivious to anything else.

            She was outside for some time so I try again:-

                        “She’s been a while. Why don’t you check she is OK”


            Either this guy was totally clueless or he was totally immune to “Eileen’s” charms, which were not inconsiderable.

            Over the last couple of years I have often got to see just how bad the chat-up techniques of many men out there are. My girlfriend is a stunningly attractive woman and it is a rare night when if at least one guy does not attempt to hit on her while she is away from me. Some will try and hit on her while I am close by, probably assuming an old ugly guy like me cannot have anything to do with her. She has told me that I was one of the very few guys who actually offered to buy her a drink! I did see one guy offer her a drink, but he was clutching his phone in his hand like a security blanky, so he did not cut an impressive figure!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Chinese Soft Weapons

                 Busy day today! Off for a drink with my girl, and if we are lucky another exceptional young woman will be able to join us. An interesting seeming book I came across on Scribd, which I have yet to have time to read myself. Don't wait up for me.

Soft Weapons  

Friday, 28 September 2012

Friday Funny

                 The cover is a joke, but the photo is apparently genuine!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Apache Ring and Thing

            Busy day today, had to be up early and did not sleep well. I have several topics to investigate but neither the time nor energy to do them justice today. So I will post a photo and link on these interesting ring and hand weapons that were allegedly used by the French street thugs known as  Apaches” (pronounced “ah – PAHASH”)

            The item on the right resembles the more modern Comtech Stinger.

            The Apache were known for a variety of nasty tricks and were a considerable hazard to public safety until the majority of them lost their lives during the first world war.
         If you have enjoyed this article or it has been helpful to you please feel free to show your appreciation. Thank you.
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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Sin - save yourself first?

There is a wise maxim about not taking refuge in absolutes, and one of the reasons to follow this occurred to me today.

I seem to see a lot of people getting very worked up about things they regard as sin. Gay marriage seems to be the current fashion but there is no shortage of other issues it seems.

Next time someone appears on your TV telling you something they don’t approve of is sinful, stop and have a good look at that person. Two of the “Seven Deadly Sins” are Sloth and Gluttony. These are things that knowingly hurt other people either by action or omission, so qualify as genuine sins by most reasonable definitions. Does this moral crusader look like they eat way more than they actually need? Do they look like they could change this behaviour, but can’t be bothered? There is probably a big chunk of self-pride thrown in there too, which is another sin we are told. If they are so passionate against sin, why are they so tolerant of their own?

Why are you listening to protestations about another’s alleged sinning from someone who makes no efforts to deal with their own actual sinful behaviour? It is something to think about when you have a spare minute.
         If you have enjoyed this article or it has been helpful to you please feel free to show your appreciation. Thank you.
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Handy Light

            I have been known to follow my own advice occasionally, so yesterday I went looking for a new external hard drive. I have a couple of 320GB examples, but since my laptop is 1000GB a bigger model seemed a sensible investment. It would also give me a chance to rearrange the files in both my main computer and back-up drives so it would be easier to find things.

While I was paying for my selection I noticed a rack of torches and this model caught my eye.

            It may not be apparent from the photo but this model has a subtle “coke-bottle waist” styling that was very attractive. I also promised to provide a secure grip. The base of the torch had a rubber press button switch, allowing it to be easily turned on and off without fiddling with a twist bevel, as is often the case with torches this size. I like easy one hand operation. It was time for the acid test. I closed my hand on it and it disappeared. Too short, even for the girlfriend’s hands! Just 20mm longer and it would have been a very nice item.

            I notice they have another budget aluminium torch. It looks a shade longer and costs less.  I may have to investigate that.





Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Swings and Uppercuts

            Just before I started this blog I spent a couple of weeks reading through around 340 books on martial arts and self-defence. While that number sounds improbable you have to understand that many of these books are very similar. I have become rather good at picking out the duplicated information and concentrating on the more unique.

            One technique that stays in mind was a sequence on “How to defend against the Hook punch”.  According to this book you use your hand to block the puncher’s upper arm. The main problem was this is that the photos were clearly not showing a hook punch. As I detail in my book, a hook punch has elements of a wheel. The upper arm is the spoke and the forearm and fist lie along the imaginary rim. It also tends to be used at very close range because of this. You would need very long and probably very thin arms to reach past that fist and push on the biceps to stop that punch.
            The punch that was actually being thrown was a swing, and a pretty wide one. The swing is one of those techniques real boxers are told never to use since it leaves you wide open. A caught a few seconds of the Women’s boxing in the Olympics and there were a couple of swings being traded. That is not a criticism of women boxing by the way, just a criticism of how far some combat sports have strayed from viable techniques.           Yesterday I came across this technique, which I am sure will give anyone remotely familiar with boxing a good chuckle. This guy is supposed to be attacking with an uppercut. A good upper cut tends to come straight upwards vertically and only travel about six inches of distance. The attacker will be virtually touching you before he sends an uppercut up like a rocket. Even if this attack is a shovel hook the interval between fighters would be much smaller and probably need alternate defensive strategies.
         If you have enjoyed this article or it has been helpful to you please feel free to show your appreciation. Thank you.
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Monday, 24 September 2012


            The other day I found in my files a Japanese cartoon I had started downloading ages ago and yesterday I finally got around to starting to watch it. I was enjoying the first episode when an idea struck me. Feeling a bit achy. I could run a bath and watch the second episode while having a soak.  I place the computer on the opposite side of the bathroom where I have a good view. Episode one finished just as the bath was ready, so I clicked on episode two and got in the bath. The program freezes up during the first minute of credits. I get out of the bath, restart the program, get back in the water. I then notice the theme song is in Japanese, whereas the first episode had been in English, including the theme. Get out the bath and try to pull up the language track settings to ensure the dialogue will be in English. The screen dies and everything goes blank. The computer has a battery that is way past its best, so I look out in the hall to where I had plugged the power supply in. Yep, I had forgot to switch on the wall socket, problem solved, back into the bathroom and fire up the computer again. Mains power light is on. Hit the start button, the other light comes on, stay on for a second and then goes out. This happens every time I try it, and all the other lights that represent  the harddrive etc stay dark. My laptop is dead.

            Earlier that day I had spent about an hour writing several new sections for the next book. I had not yet transferred a duplicate to my flash drive, intending to do it later on that night. Loads of other useful stuff I don’t think I have backed up to my external hard drive recently. What’s more, money is tight at the moment so computer repairs or even a replacement machine are an expense I can do without. It is possible that despite my care some water has gotten into the machine. Several times during that evening I try the machine again. Light goes on, light goes out.

            This morning I pack my machine into a rucksac and bring it into work. I’ll ask the computer tech here for advice on anything I can do with it or where to take it for repairs. I finish my morning coffee and decide to give it one last check. It works! Apparently it needed the night to dry out, needed shaking up in the rucksac, wanted some fresh air or just fancied a ride on the tube train. I don’t know.

            Why am I telling you this story? Well, I like to pass on information and lessons that might be useful, not just in the field of self-defence. Half a lifetime ago I had the task of trying to teach medical students about science. They had to design experiments, research an idea and then present their results. Every year I would hear the same thing- “I left my results on the bus!”; “Hassan has the results and he is not in, he was supposed to be!”; “My disc has a virus!” etc, etc.

            I always used to say “Where were you backups? Why didn’t you make duplicates?” and since I believe in learning from the mistakes of others, have a number of backup systems for data I consider important. However, this experience has reminded me I should be backing up more frequently, so today’s lesson is …

Always have a backup or two.

Backups are no good unless they are maintained.
         If you have enjoyed this article or it has been helpful to you please feel free to show your appreciation. Thank you.
The Books

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Cheap Shots, Ambushes and Other Lessons

            In my book I recommended two other books as “Required Reading”

A Bouncer’s Guide to Barroom Brawling by Peyton Quinn (Paladin Press (1990) ISBN 0-87364-586-3) and Street E&E by Marc MacYoung (Paladin Press. ISBN 087364-743-2)

            I have just finished another of Marc’s books Cheap Shots, Ambushes and Other Lessons. (Paladin Press. ISBN 087364-496-4) and cannot recommend this highly enough. Some great stuff about awareness, avoidance, psychology and world views, all written in Marc’s usual entertaining and informative style. If you need to learn about self-defence, buy my book. If you want to learn more about why fights occur, also by Cheap Shots...


         If you have enjoyed this article or it has been helpful to you please feel free to show your appreciation. Thank you.
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Saturday, 22 September 2012


            The topic of the vajra arose the other day. For a long time I had considered this to be a ritual/symbolic object that just happened to have the characteristics of being an emergency kongo type weapon. The wiki article on the vajra seems to consider that the item was intended as a weapon. It quotes several myths were gods are supposed to have fought with varja. One of the translations of vajra is “thunderbolt” and gods fighting with thunderbolts is a common theme in many cultures. It is possible these myths refer to the more elemental form of thunderbolt rather than an object like the vajra. Thunderbolt itself is open to alternate interpretations. Today we assume it to be a lightning bolt but in older times the term often meant a meteorite.

            Further evidence that the vajra might have been intended as a weapon lies in one of its alternate names:- kongou or kongo. If the martial aspect of the vajra is well known, certain pieces of Buddhist and Asian art that feature it begin to take on a different light. Is there an implied threat and strength in a piece, rather like the King holding a sceptre or a Pharaoh his whip?

            I decided to have a quick look at how practical the vajra is as a weapon. As it happens, I happen to have one sitting on top of my computer router. I was walking through town one day and passed a music shop. They had a vajra in their window. It had come in a shipment of Tibetan instruments and they were using it for window dressing, with no idea what it was. I brought it for half of what I was willing to pay, so everyone was happy.

            The central shaft of the varja is quite narrow and it can be used for certain kubotan-type locks and Eda koppo  techniques. The hourglass like shape of the central portion means that for some techniques such as thumb locks there is less likelihood of the attacked part slipping free.

            The vajra/kongo is primarily a striking weapon, however. The dumbbell like shape provides a very secure grip. The mouldings and shapes on the narrow central shaft also improve grip. Each end of the Vajra ends in a narrow blunt square section point. This is a far smaller striking area than I put on my homemade kongos or can be found on many commercial kubotans. An alternate translation for vajra is “diamond crusher” and it is obvious this item could put a lot of force into a very small area. I have no doubt that many attacks with a vajra could disable, injure or kill.

            Next time you seen an image of a seemingly tranquil Buddhist priest with a vajra, be aware he is in fact ready with a weapon far more effective than a knuckleduster!
         If you have enjoyed this article or it has been helpful to you please feel free to show your appreciation. Thank you.
The Books

Friday, 21 September 2012

Platinum Grit -friday's funny.

            Platinum Grit is a webcomic drawn by a talented Australian Illustrator called Trudy Cooper. I would post a direct link but the site seems to be down today. Trudy also writes and draws the NSFW but very funny Oglaf (also down today!)

            The following panel is just pure comedy gold. Kate notices the door of the house is open, so arms herself with the steering lock and….

         If you have enjoyed this article or it has been helpful to you please feel free to show your appreciation. Thank you.
The Books

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Inspiration on Thursday

            Some people are truly inspiring! They are not people who get paid millions to play a game they loved anyway. They are not people who won a gold medal pursing their hobby at the taxpayer’s expense.

            There is a lady here who works as a cleaner. I don’t know the story of how she came all the way from Colombia to clean toilets every day in London. I just marvel at the fact that  she always appears cheerful and has a warm smile and friendly word for anyone she knows at any time.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

On working out and worshiping boats.....

            Today is an exercise day. This means that when I managed to drag myself out of bed I waved the Indian clubs around for thirty reps. I then performed thirty wall push-ups in a row. Then it was thirty dumbbell flies while lying on the floor, thirty dumbbell presses and then thirty curls. Depending on how the day goes, I may perform this routine again when I get home this evening.

            It occurred to me that there was an interesting analogy here. I don’t work out because I enjoy it. I don’t work out because I want to get particularly good at curling weights. There will be no convention where an adoring crowd surrounds me and cries “Wow, look at him curl!”

            I exercise because I want to be stronger. Better muscle tone seems to eliminate some of the random aches and pains I used to get. I look better if I work out, I walk straighter with better muscle tone and project more confidence. Working out helps bring down the beer gut. I am still carrying a little layer of subcutaneous adipose –I will never had a six pack!- but beneath that thin layer of fat is now a very firm wall of abdominal muscle. My stunningly beautiful girlfriend loves the leaner meaner look and she is not the only member of the opposite sex to approve.

            Thinking about this reminded me of one of my favourite quotes from Bruce Lee:- “A boat is just to take you across a river. Once you are across you leave the boat and proceed on your journey. You do not stay and worship the boat.”

            What Lee meant was that martial art styles as you first encounter them are just a means to an end. They are paths to a destination. These paths all go to the same destination if you follow them to the end. To claim that one path is “right” and all others are “wrong” is foolish and immature. Katas, Forms, Stances, Postures and other exercises are just that, exercises to teach you skills or ideas you will need at that time or will need to move on and advance.

            I use the weights because they will produce a certain result. Whether you like working out or not is not the issue, it is whether you want the reward. Martial arts are not self-defence, they are one of the tools you can use to get to a state where you can more effectively protect yourself.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Polearms -Butting in

            Watching this video of medieval fighting techniques and something interesting struck me.

           In the polearm combats, notice how often the butt end of the weapon is advanced towards the enemy. Recently I was rereading one of the Black Medicine books and in that text the author recommends if defending yourself with an object such as a broom or long handled shovel to keep the head to the rear. I looked at some contemporary illustrations of combats with pole arms and there were numerous incidences of fighters having the butt towards the enemy. Many of these seemed to occur during what might be interpreted as defensive actions. If you consider a rifle when it is used for close combat, with or without the bayonet the butt is to the rear. However, the rifle butt is the primary striking element of the weapon so functionally the rifle butt serves the same role as a poleaxe head.

            If we think about this, defending with the butt end of a pole arm makes quite a bit of sense. The butt end is lighter and therefore more mobile, quicker and more responsive. The heads of polearms sometimes bind together (as can be seen in the video clip), which may not be desirable.  Deflecting the head with the butt reduces this. For example one could parry with the butt, riposte with a strike from the butt end and then follow-up with a strike from the head of your weapon.

            Following this line of thought, I recalled something I had briefly scanned through recently. In a print out of a Di Grassi manual that used to be on line was the following passage:-

“But because these weapons for the most part  are exercised and used to enter through diverse Pikes and  other weapons, and to break and disorder the battle array,  to which end, and purpose, if it be used, then that manner of  managing and handling is very convenient which is much  practiced now a days, and thus it is. The Partisan, Halberd, and Bill (but not the Javelin, being in this case nothing   effectual because it has small force in the edge) must be  born in the middle of the staff, with the heel thereof before,   and very low, and the point near a man’s head. And with the   said heel, or half staff underneath, from the hand   downwards, he must ward and beat off the points and thrusts of the Pikes and other weapons, and having made  way, must enter with the increase of a pace of the hindfoot,  and in the same instant, let fall his weapon as forcibly as he   may, and strike with the edge athwart the Pikes. This kind  of blow is so strong (being delivered as it ought, considering   it comes from above downwards, and the weapon of itself is very heavy) that it will cut asunder not only Pikes, but also  any other forcible impediment.

In other words hold your polearm near the middle, with the head back and defend with the lower part of the shaft until it is time to use the head. This position combines elements of both the high guard and the hanging guard. The rifle postion with the butt back and the muzzle raised combines the middle guard and the tail guard. Middle guard and Hanging guard are good defensive guards, while High and Tail guard cock the weapon ready for a wide range of counterstrikes.

This blog post confirms the practice and suggests that on the shorter models of pole arm the fighter gripped closer to the head to preserve enough shaft to defend with.

This explains why many pole arms have always appeared too long or too heavy to me. In the movies halberds etc are always shown advancing point first, like overweight bayonets. Their heads looked too heavy to provide a quick defence  and they had little room to generate power for chopping. In fact they were supposed to the held in the middle, head back.
         If you have enjoyed this article or it has been helpful to you please feel free to show your appreciation. Thank you.
The Books

Monday, 17 September 2012

Kubotan and Kongo Locks

Stuck in my files is an article on the kongo that I never seem to have time to finish, so today I thought I would post part of it.

99% of the time the only techniques you will need for using the kongo are the strikes. However, the reader is doubtless curious about “fancy stuff” such as locks so I’ll include some discussion of these in today’s blog, with the caution that it is better to keep things simple but effective in a real fight. Some of these techniques are “pain compliance” techniques so their effectiveness will vary between individuals and situations.

            Most of the locks described here are applied against the bones of the forearm. The forearm has two long bones, the one on the upper/thumb side being the radius and the lower bone the ulna. Locks should be applied so that the pressure is applied against either the ulna or the radius, depending on situation. Force applied against a single bone rather than distributed will be more effective. Force is applied to these bones at the ends where they joint the hand. Squeeze around this area with your fingers and you will soon locate where the more sensitive areas lie.

            In the following description my main intent is to convey the mechanical principles of how these locks work. For that reason I’ve generally described the positioning of the kongo first. In practice it is more likely that the opponent’s arm would first be gripped by the non-weapon hand and the weapon then brought into position.

            To avoid such unwieldy terms as “strong side thumb” or “weak side fingers” the following descriptions will all assume that the kongo is being used in the right hand.

The Pincer.

            Hold your kongo/ kubotan so several inches project from the top of the forefinger side of your hand. You may have to shift your grip slightly from that normally used for striking. At the same time stick out your thumb so kongo and thumb form a sort of “V”. We will call this configuration “the Pincer” and use it as the basis for learning the following locks.

            The Pincer itself is a pretty good technique. Grasp the foe’s thumb between your thumb and the kongo and apply pressure, using the weapon as a fulcrum. This can be performed against other fingers too. Or, use your pincer to take hold of the subject’s ear or other fleshy body part.

There are several other variations of the pincer-based locks. It is possible to hold the wrist, fingers or thumb in the pincer and use the left hand to assist in some other way such as manipulating the foe’s hand or thumb.

J locks.

            Put your right hand in Pincer form and slip your right thumb under the foe’s wrist so the kongo passes over the top. Slip the thumb of your left hand over the free end of the kongo and pass your left fingers under your opponent’s wrist. This is the basic mechanism of the lock but in practice it is more likely that you would first grip the foe’s wrist with your left hand and then bring the kongo into position.
            This technique can also be applied against the thumb. The opponent’s thumb is clamped between right thumb and kongo and your left hand grasps his wrist and hooks your left thumb over the free end of the kongo.
            A related technique against the wrist is performed in the same way but does not place the right thumb under the wrist. The kongo is laid across the bone and the free end taken by the left thumb. Disadvantage of this variation is that the kongo must not be allowed to slip around the wrist. The advantage is it can be applied in situations where the thumb could not be easily slipped under the wrist. I call this family of locks the “J locks” since the kubotan forms the crossbar of the J while the fingers of the other hand form the curved section around the wrist.
            Depending on the relative orientation of the arm these locks can also be applied against the ulna.

Delta Locks.

            Instead of taking the free end of the kongo with the left thumb it is also possibly to wrap the left fingers around it and slip the left thumb around the wrist. You therefore have eight fingers pulling against the kongo and two thumbs pushing into the wrist. Takayuki Kubota (inventor of the kubotan) stresses that when using this technique the web of the thumbs should form a tight “gasket seal” against the suspect’s arm. The advantage of this technique is that it can it can be applied to either surface of the arm.
            As well as placing the kubotan across the upper side of the wrist and the thumbs underneath you can place the kubotan under the wrist and push down on the upper surface with your thumbs. I think of this lock as the “Delta lock” since the two hands and the kubotan form a triangle

Eda Koppō.

            The Eda koppō techniques are taken from Matsaaki Hatsumi’s “Stick Fighting” (p56) and he defines the term as “Attacking the bones with a stick”. Many of the techniques are variations of those already described but one is worth dealing with separately.

            Slip your fingers through the loop of the kongo as though you were going to strike with it and open your hand. Place this hand on your foe’s forearm near the wrist so that the kongo either crosses the ulna or the radius. The fingers encircle the wrist and the kongo is sandwiched between your palm and the foe’s arm, pressing onto the bone. The other hand can be used to assist. How effective this will be will depend on several factors, including the diameter and shape of your kongo, strength of your grip and the pain sensitivity of your foe. For this reason my personal inclination would be to use this technique on the ulna if there is a choice, which seems to be the more sensitive of the two bones. The advantage of this technique is that it can be applied with your kongo in the normal striking position and does not need your grip to be shifted so can be rapidly applied against a target of opportunity.

            Suppose you are using a kongo without a finger loop or an object as improvised weapon? Brace it by placing your little finger and thumb under the object and your other three fingers on top. You can also brace it between your thumb and second finger with the fore finger on top. This is a good technique for a longer, thinner object such as a pencil.

            A final trick. Place your kubotan, kongo or pencil between any of the subject’s fingers, then squeeze the fingers together. You probably have a pen or pencil nearby as you are reading this – try it out on yourself.
         If you have enjoyed this article or it has been helpful to you please feel free to show your appreciation. Thank you.
The Books