April 14, 2009

The Amazing Rescue or the Sound and Fury of the Pirates of Somalia

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 3:06 am by ledefensetech

The drama in the Gulf of Aden ended with three precise shots. Those guys are so good it’s scary. They really are a credit to their service and their instructors.

Which leads me to my next topic. It’s all about training. It doesn’t matter what you do, the more you do of something the better you get at it. Self defense is no different. Personally I’m a big fan of learning unarmed combat, then learning how to use weapons. What you find when you do things this way is that you’ll be able to pick up any type of defensive tool and use it.

Like when I took the conceal carry course in Missouri. The instructor was surprised I shot as well as I did because I told him that I hadn’t shot or been on a range in twenty years. Yep, I hadn’t shot a gun in twenty years. And I hit my target every time. Now could I do what the SEALS did and take three pirates out shooting from a rolling deck. Nope that’s beyond me. I don’t expect any of my adversaries to be more than 10 feet away from me. If they are more than 10 feet, well then it’s time to exfiltrate and find help.

Not that you really want to get within arm’s reach of someone. I’m a small guy so I like to keep people at arm’s length, it’s safer that way. Still it is useful to know some hard takedown techniques in case you ever find yourself grappling with an opponent.

A good self defense video focuses on hard quick takedown techniques that are easy to use.

A good self defense video focuses on hard quick takedown techniques that are easy to use.

Street safe meets the criteria for lowdown dirty fighting. Let’s face it. If someone is grappling with you, they mean to do you harm. It’s not a mistake, it’s not a misunderstanding, they mean to hurt or kill you. One thing you’ll find is that once you start learning from these videos, you’ll start to hold yourself differently, you’ll feel more confident and relaxed, even in tense situations. Predators will sense this and, the human type at least, will move on to a softer target. Of course if they ignore that little voice telling them that messing with you is a bad idea….well they deserve what they get.

Even more than personal alarms, pepper sprays and even stun guns, training will help you avoid most confrontations. The best defense is one that never needs to be used. By keeping your head up and observing the world around you, you stand a much better chance of avoiding or turning a bad situation around, should you ever need to. Nor should you study only one or two systems. The best martial artists I know have studied several different arts through their career. Nor should it be different for those of us interested in personal protection.

A DVD should have simple techniques and be easy to learn and adapt to.

A DVD should have simple techniques and be easy to learn and adapt to.

The Fast and Furious DVD is great because it not only has the simple but effective techniques that are an absolute requirement for defense, but there’s also a great section on improvised weapons. Remember when I mentioned that one of the benefits of training is the ability to use weapons? Well one of the things you’ll find when you begin training is that there are weapons all around you. All you need is an ability to see them for what they really are.

Now if you really want to take control of things, you can look at advanced techniques. These are not for the beginner. It involves things like totally dominating your opponent, stripping guns from them, taking away their knives things like that.

Advanced techniques allow you to toally dominate your opponent.

Advanced techniques allow you to toally dominate your opponent.

This DVD will teach you everything you need to know about advanced techniques for disarming an assailant. Not only does it show you the right way to do things, it also exposes the wrong ways that are shown by Hollywood and other mass media. If you take your cue from TV Land, you’ll wind up gone, just like that. He also shows you how to keep your own weapon under your control, so you don’t get it used against you. Now this is only for people who are willing to use maximum force to stay safe. Still it’s a good skill to learn because when a robber, rapist or mugger pulls a gun the entire threat level of the situation has changed dramatically.

And so we come back to the SEALS and their rescue of Captain Philips. Negotiations were ongoing, true. But those men then made the decision to act threateningly towards their unarmed and bound captive. Decisions have consequences and the pirates found that out the hard way. Sure they come from a country that’s war-torn and schizophrenic, but we all have to choose to do right or do wrong. Those who do wrong are thugs and bullies and they can never stand up to training, discipline and righteousness.

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April 12, 2009

C2 Taser – Most advanced Taser on the Planet?

Posted in Safety tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 5:07 am by ledefensetech

Is the C2 stun gun the best stun gun for your money?  It the C2 really a non lethal weapon?  How does a C2 stun gun work?  People have plenty of questions about Taser products and today we’re going to look at the C2 Taser stun gun. The C2 is Tasers replacement of the Advanced Air Taser brand.

This is Tasers premier civilian model of their popular stun gun.

This is Tasers premier civilian model of their popular stun gun.

The Advanced Air Taser is the precursor to the C2 Taser.

The Advanced Air Taser is the precursor to the C2 Taser.

One of the main benefits of the C2 vs the Advanced Air Taser is the size.  It’s much more compact and looks less like a weapon than the Advanced Taser. As I’ve said before, non lethal weapons are preferable to lethal weapons for several reasons.  The most important for our purposes here is the fact that people will hesitate less when the stakes are not so high.  Always remember, it can mean your life when you hesitate, so don’t.

The fact that you have to register the device provides two benefits wrapped into one.  On a personal level, you can be sure that people carrying a C2 Taser are not felons.  That’s part of the registration process, a background check that you complete on Taser’s website.  Second are the ID tags that are emitted from the Taser when fired.  This is more a benefit to soiciety.  If you use a Taser to commit a crime or unlawfully, the ID tags will tell the police who you are and they will come looking for you.  An assault with a Taser is just like an assult with any other type of weapon.  Make sure you use it responsibly.

I do like the fact that the C2 has a trigger cover on the top of the device, so you can’t discharge it by accident.  Plus it lights up to let you know it’s armed as a further deterrent against accidental discharge.

The C2 is simple and easy in design.  The cartridge is loaded in the front, while the rear has a housing for the lithium ion batteries that can power over 50 shots according to Taser.  I’d probably not trust it more than 50 times, mostly because you shouldn’t have to use it that much.  If you do it’s more likely to be over a long period of time so the battery may not have an optimum charge when you use it.  Still, like with any tool you trust your life to, it’s probably a good idea to test it every six months or so.

One of the coolest things about the C2 is the ability to get an LED light attaced to it to provide you with a targeting dot.  It costs about $50 extra, but is well worth the cost in my opinion.  This can help you immensly espectially if you’re in a combat situation and you have to be sure you’re going to hit your target.  Even if you do miss, you’re still not defenseless as the C2 can be used as a contact stun gun provided your attacker still wants to close with you.  They’ll probably think twice after you discharge the C2 at them.

So how does a C2 work?  Well basically it interferes with the nervous system of the human body.  The charge is low enough not to mess with cardiac rhythm, so the C2 is a non lethal or less than lethal device, but powerful enough to interfere with the signals running from the brain to the muscles.  In addition the muslces spasm depleting them of glycogen, which is the muscles energy source, leaving your opponent unable to move.  The effects last for about 3o seconds, giving you plenty of time to get away.  The following video shows the features of the C2:

Taser does offer a replacement gaurantee, so if you do use a C2, seet it down and find help.  After you give your statement to the police, get a copy of the report and send it in to Taser.  They will then replace your C2 for free.  Their philosophy is that your life is more important than a device, so rather than try to get it back, do the safe thing and Taser will replace it.

Now I may get in trouble with the pro-gun crowd, but I prefer a Taser product to a gun when I have to take down a burglar or mugger.  With a gun things are chancy, you may hit a vital spot, you might not.  Plus when you flash a gun you’ve just increased the level of violence.  A criminal now knows they may die and will most likely act more desperately  Plus I haven’t seen anyone who can resist a C2 stun gun.  The following video shows what happens to a UFC fighter against a C2:

What do you think a C2 will do to a punk on the street?

Finally there’s the less than lethal factor.  I prefer less than lethat over non-lethal because you can still get hurt falling when you go down from getting hit with one of these.  Those instances, however, fall into the natural consequence category.  If they didn’t try to rob and steal, they wouldn’t get hurt.  More importantly, by not using lethal force you make it harder for any type of prosecution, be it criminal or civil.  That in and of itself is a worthy goal.

April 11, 2009

More on Pirates of Somalia

Posted in Safety tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 4:15 am by ledefensetech

Unarmed sailors take back their ship. This is incredible for several reasons. The only downside is that their captain, as fitting a man of his station, ransomed his safety for that of his crew.  It’s telling that he tried to escape, unfortunately he failed. Somali pirates might think twice before attacking a US flagged merchant ship.

What I have a problem with is the assertion that ships have little recourse against pirates. There’s plenty of options a crew has to secure their ship. It may take some retrofitting, but there are many things a crew can do. First is making it harder for pirates to board the ship. I’ve heard of electrified rails, barbed wire or water cannons washing pirates off the ship like vermin. Second would be covering the superstructure with cameras, probably hidden. In conjunction with this, a secure room to which the crew can view the cameras and the crew can take refuge in. While retreating to the panic room, the crew can lay booby traps with pepper discharge, irritants and other disabling methods.

It only makes sense to make things harder for these scumbags. The only reason the engage in piracy is because it’s easier than anything else they could do. Plus the rewards are amazing for people who live in Somalia. With millions being paid in ransom, one successful hijacking can set a Somali up for life. The international community has shown that they are unable or unwilling to do anything about the pirates, so it falls to the sailors and captains who ply the trade lanes to take measures to protect themselves, their ships and their cargo.

Again while criminals might have the advantage concerning initiative, a prepared defender can suck them in and drop them at a time and place of their choosing. All it takes is determination and action when something like this happens.

April 8, 2009

Fighting the last war.

Posted in Society tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:40 pm by ledefensetech

Two items stood out in the news today. First was a shooting in a Korean religious retreat in California. This will turn out to be, I think, another example of stress violence and a gust front in the coming storm of crime.  Politicians will, as usual, react badly and too late to stem this tide.  As an example I will use the current economic crisis.  Signs of the coming crisis were there for anyone to see as early as 2005, at least by then the writing was on the wall.  During the presidential campaign, nary a word was said about the economy until last fall.  By then, it was too late.

So too, will this fly under the radar until it’s too late.  While the masses are mesmerized by trillion dollar budgets, angered by bailouts and stunned by the antics of those in Washington, they ignore the signs of the coming tsunami in crime much like they did the economic collapse we’re seeing today.

The second item of interest today was this bit on the resurgence of Somali Piracy. I could go on and on about how we came to this pass, but it would seem a better use of our time to look closer and decide what this means in terms of safety.

As usual, it would seem that the Navy is asked to do a job covering too much of an area with too few assets with which to do the job. Plus it would seem that the tactics of the pirates are evolving. While not as dramatic as the tank laden Ukrainian ship seized by Somali pirates last fall, the ransoms paid to pirates has been substantial, especially in a nation as poor as Somalia. Paying those ransoms just encourages more piracy. People are more willing to roll the dice and take their chances. If they die, oh well, they live in a place where life is cheap anyway, so they might as well take the chance.

So what does all this mean? Why should you care? Well for one it seems that the world is getting more and more dangerous by day. Random shootings are increasing, once extinct criminal enterprises like piracy are on the rise and evidence mounts day by day that the world is becoming more and more unstable. Our “leaders”, as usual, are clueless about all of this and either can’t or won’t put the pieces together. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You and only you can ensure your own safety. Waiting for someone else to save you is a fools errand.

At the very least you might want to consider learning some fighting techniques. At the very least you’ll develop the ability to scan your surroundings and identify places that you might not want to be. Rather than walk blithely through life oblivious to potential threats, you will learn how to stalk your stalkers. The choice of confrontation will no longer be with your attacker, but with you. You will have the initiative and that makes all the difference in the world.

Ideally, whatever system you choose it should be simple, easily mastered and, most importantly, allow you to quickly take down your opponent. Size doesn’t matter, nor does age. I’ve seen small guys take down large guys, women take down guys, old guys take down young guys. What matters is that you have the training and the confidence to overcome your attacker.

Speed is life during a fight.

Speed is life during a fight.

A system must be easy to learn.

A system must be quick to master. A system must be quick to master.

Remember, there is astorm coming. Will you be one of those who waits for help that will never arrive, or arrive too late; or will you take your destiny into your own hands and learn simple techniques to save yourself and your family?

April 7, 2009

Earthquake in L’Aquila

Posted in Safety tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 5:19 am by ledefensetech

Reading about the earthquake that L’Aquila reminded me of a seminar I went to about earthquake preparedness.  Several of the presenters were architects and engineers who had been in places like the Northridge earthquake and/or the Oakland earthquake and they made some very good points about keeping yourself safe in an earthquake.

It’s a little known fact that earthquakes can happen anywhere.  We had a few tremors here in Southern Missouri and Illinois last year after the big spring floods we had.  The thought was that the flooding had an impact on the buried tectonic fault under New Madrid, MO.  So even in the heartland, we’re under threat from earthquakes.  So much from moving here from Southern California.

One of the stories from that seminar concerned those poor souls who were trapped under that overpass that collapsed in Oakland. They actually did find survivors under there.  In fact, most of the people who died were the ones who tried to speed up to avoid the collapsing bridge.  They either got crushed by the overpass that fell on them or ran into those who ran into the fallen overpass.  One of the points they made was that people who had some food, water and some kind of noisemaker were much better off than those without.

I’ve written about personal alarms before, but it was in the context of protecting yourself from an attacker.  They’re much more versitile than that.  It can be used as a signaler in cases of being trapped under something that has collapsed or if you’re lost, it can signal searchers to your position.  I got lost at Boy Scout camp one year, luckily I found my way back, but I could have sure used one of those then.

Preparedness kits are also essential.  Every home and car should have some kind of kit to survive in case of emergency.  One of the other things I got from that seminar was the need to stockpile some food, medical supplies and other necessities because if there were another earthquake here like the one in 1812, help could be a week away.  Personally I think that’s being kind of optimistic.  The 1812 quake caused bells in Boston, Boston, to ring.  Also this half of the country is not SoCal, which has been living under the threat of a major earthquake for far longer and have built accordingly.  Since this will happen in the Mississippi valley, the shock waves will travel up and down the river and it’s tributaries.  Plus the land in SoCal has an attenuating effect on how far the quake will travel.  The Midwest has a very different effect, it will actually strengthen the effects of the quake.  Long story short, it will take much more than a week for help to get here.

So food and clean water is essential, so are first aid supplies.  An alarm is useful in case you’re trapped in a collapsed building or in your car.  For your car you  might consider a multiple use tool like the one pictured here.

Great for helping you escape a wrecked car.

Great for helping you escape a wrecked car.

It consists of a flashlight to help you see your surroundings, a flashing light to signal rescuers, a seatbelet cutter and can be used as a hammer to break away glass.  If nothing else it can free you enough to move about the cabin and access your stored food, water and safety gear.

As for around the home or an alarm that you can keep with you, I’d suggest some kind of 2 ‘n 1 alarm that incorporates an alarm with a flashlight.  Again the flashlight can be useful to get your bearings and to signal resuce personnel and the alarm can let them know there’s someone alive to save.

One of several types of personal alarms that can be used to signal rescuers.

One of several types of personal alarms that can be used to signal rescuers.

It may seem unnecessary or paranoid to put all of this stuff together, but it’s one of those things that you might never really need to use, but when you do need to use it, you’ll really need to use it.

Whether or not you believe in a God or higher power, take a moment to remember those caught in L’Aquila and pray for those who have been injured or who have lost loved ones.  Please take what I’ve written into consideration and at least think about what you might do in such a situation.  At the very least it won’t come as a compete shock and that alone might be enough to help keep you alive.

Stay safe out there.

April 6, 2009

Stress Violence

Posted in Society tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 1:34 am by ledefensetech

It seems like there’s a fresh tragedy in the news every day now.  Churches, community centers, homes, heck you’re not safe out on your front porch anymore.  The scariest part of all this is that there seems to be no rhyme or reason behind these rampages.

One of the things I learned working in the mental heath field is that people have differing levels of what they are able to cope with and that people cope with stress in different ways.  Now most of the population we worked with were not able to handle much stress at all and when they had an episode, they didn’t handle it very well.

What this means for the rest of us is that there is a population among us that have a low threshold for stress and when they surpass that threashold, they react with violence or self injury.  While it is possible to increase coping skills so that you can cope with more stress and cope better with stress, it’s really up to an individual as to whether or not they will practice the skills needed to cope better with stress.

What this also means is that there is no agency other than you that can protect you life, family and property.  Police officers can only react to calls about criminal behavior, they can’t be in all places at all times.  It’s funny, as I was reading about the news about the shooting in Binghampton and people were grilling the police chief about the time it took to police to respond and whether they should have waited for backup or not.

In a way it’s a moot point.  The police can’t respond quickly enough to stop that sort of thing.  Plus with the political oversight officers endure, they cannot respond effectively to those sorts of situations.  That’s not meant to disparage officers either.  They do a tough job, but you can’t be everywhere at once.

So, in the end, each person is responsible for their own well being.  By all means try to delay an attacker until help arrives, but don’t expect anyone to be there to save you from a situation.  You must be prepared to save yourself.  Many people take the time to learn combat skills and unarmed fighting skills and techniques both for men and women.  Size isn’t always everything.  Others may use tools like personal alarms, pepper spray, or stun guns to protect themselves.  Most street cops I’ve talked to like the idea of a citizenry who defend themselves.  All too often they have to deal with the aftermath of things like Binghampton.

So read and learn.  You don’t have to take this lying down and live in fear.  If there’s one sure way to beat the fear of the unknown, it’s to learn as much about it as you can.  Then should you ever be in the right place at the wrong time, you’ll be that much more prepared to preserve your live and thelives of the innocents around you.  One thing you can be sure of is that we’ll see more people afflicted with stress violence and incidents will increase in the future.

March 17, 2009

Fear is the Mind Killer

Posted in Safety tagged , , , , , , at 2:34 am by ledefensetech

Let’s talk a bit about fear, you and I.  Don’t worry, we’ll not go too far around the corner and down a dark alley.  Fear is one of the most misunderstood emotions out there.  Most people will do anything to avoid it.  Much like anything else, however, fear in reality is a tool.  Any like any tool, it can hurt or help you.

Over millions of years our ancestors have used fear to get them out of sticky situations, situations that for us living in the modern world have little to no conception.  Living in the Third World or being in the military or law enforcement might give you some vague conception of the situations that our ancestors faced, but on the whole, we’re pretty lucky in this day and age.

Their legacy to us has been this tool known as fear.  Neurologists are just now unraveling the mysteries of this most human of emotions.  In fact, one of the largest growing mental disorders in the United States, PTSD, is intimately tied to how and why we fear what we fear.  We’ll talk about that a bit later, for now it’s enough to know that it exists.

Fear, too, can kill.  Ben Sherwood talks about “The Statues in the Storm” in his book The Survivor’s Club.  If you’ve ever read Dune by Frank Herbert or have seen the movies based on his books, you’ve seen the title of my blog before.  While fear can be used as a tool in a crisis situation, most times it turns us to statues.  That’s why law enforcement and the military spend so much time trying to train that out of recruits.

This holds especially true if you’re a woman or a teenager.  Or if you’re like me, a short guy.  Many bullies and criminals, for what is a criminal but a bully writ large, think that smaller means weaker.  Being small and weak doesn’t mean that you’re helpless or a victim.

Also preparing yourself mentally attenuates the amount of fear you feel in a real confrontation.  It won’t eliminate your fear, which is good, because fear can be used as a tool in a confrontation.  Fear can actually be used to jump start you if you’ve become a statue in the storm.  Overwhelming fear is what seems to turn people into statues that await their doom.

In an emergency, your mind is the most valuable weapon or tool at your disposal.  The more quickly you can recover from a shock, the more quickly you can start thinking and start surviving.