Survival Skill: Unarmed Combat

In an ideal world when a SHTF scenario takes place you’d be wearing your bullet proof vest and have immediate access to your hand gun and assault rifle. Unfortunately this may not be the case because of several factors. The laws in your country might prohibit you from carrying any weapons or the place you are attending might not allow you to carry weapons, such as universities and hospitals. So how do you defend yourself using unarmed combat skills if you get stuck in such an unpleasant situation? This article will go through the steps involved in defending yourself from the initial assessment of the threat, how to avoid or eliminate the threat with your bare hands or with any improvised weapon that you’re likely to come across in everyday life.

Assess the threat

As with everything else, the first step is to assess the situation. The extent of your assessment will obviously depend on the prevailing circumstances. You can’t take out pen and paper and start drafting an action plan if there’s a hyped up guy slashing with a machete right in front of your face. Each situation warrants a different level of assessment. An imminent threat requires split second decisions that are mostly based on muscle memory acquired through hours of training whilst a hostage situation requires careful planning. Whatever the situation, the aim of your assessment is to identify any weaknesses of your opponent, availability of improvised weapons and escape routes. We’ll cover all these aspects in the sections below.

Basics of Self Defense

When faced with a threat you have two opposing options; fight or flight. Backing off from a confrontation might make you feel like a pussy but it’s better to feel that way for a few days rather than being killed or injured because of your pride. If you decide to run away from a confrontation/threat you have to be sure that you can run faster than your opponent, avoid any weapons he may attack you with whilst you are running (mostly applicable to firearms), and find adequate shelter before he catches up with you. If this is not possible then you’d better stand your ground and fight because once you turn your back on your opponent you’ll become much more vulnerable.

Once you’ve decided to fight, or are forced to fight your way out, there are some basics you have to keep in mind. The fundamental principle of self-defense is to reduce to the least extent possible the damage your body receives in the attack. Key areas to protect are your entire head and face and vital organs in your torso. However do not underestimate the importance of your limbs. You won’t be able to attack with enough force if your arm/s gets injured and you’ll have problems standing and moving about if your leg/s gets injured. How you protect yourself will depend on how you’re being attacked. We’ll go through these in the coming sections.

The next principle is to stop your assailant from what he is doing. This is achieved by hitting a delicate part of your opponent’s body with a tough part of your own body (or any hard object that comes to hand). Your attack should be vicious and aggressive. This is not the time to have sympathy. You want to cause intense pain and damage in as little time as possible in order to neutralize the assailant.

Tough Parts of the Body

  • Knuckles
  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Sole of the foot
  • Forehead

Delicate Parts of the Body

  • Temple
  • Eyes
  • Nose
  • Jaw
  • Neck/throat
  • Solar plexus
  • Ribs
  • Kidneys
  • Groin
  • Knees (when hit from the sides)

Unarmed Assailant

When your assailant is unarmed it’s a fight on equal par and the outcome will depend on strength, stamina, technique, aggressiveness and as always a bit of luck. Although it’s important to be aggressive don’t forget about defending yourself and protecting your vitals. If you get injured, you drastically reduce your chance of winning that fight. Once into the fight do your utmost to knockout (make unconscious) your opponent or cause an injury that makes him harmless. Do not start throwing useless punches and kicks in the air like a drunkard. Instead aim all your shots and focus on making contact with most if not all your attacks. Hit with all your strength but make sure not to lose your balance. Do not opt for fancy spinning kicks and that stuff unless you’re a professional kick boxer. Aim your kicks to his knees to knock him off-balance and aim your punches to his face and ribs if you get the opportunity. Do not unnecessarily expose yourself whilst attacking and always be ready to block his attacks. Follow these basics and you’re likely to be the one standing next to an unconscious body.

Armed with a Knife

When faced with an opponent with a bladed weapon you must concentrate on that weapon and move in such a way that it never contacts your body. Keep at a distance and let your opponent slash and trust in vain. You have to wait for your opportunity to move in swiftly and grab hold of the hand holding the weapon. Do not grab the weapon from the blade. Your best chance of moving in is when he has swung the blade and is about to slash back. Once you gain hold of his weapon bearing hand hit him with all you’ve got but never let go off the hand. When you feel that he’s become weak enough, grab the weapon bearing hand with both your arms and twist it ferociously to break as many bones as possible. At this point he should drop the weapon or loosen enough his grip such that you can safely take it away from him. Once the weapon is in your hand, it’s up to you how to proceed but keep in mind there might be repercussions, both legal and psychological, if you decide to end his life.

Armed with a Firearm

An assailant with a firearm is much more difficult to disarm due to the extended range and deadliness of the weapon. Here your initial approach will be drastically different in that you want to come in physical contact with your assailant. You’ll have to do this gradually whilst distracting your assailant with conversation or a decoy. Once close enough your objective will be to grab the gun by the barrel and hold the gun pointing away from you and ideally away from other people. Movies and some martial arts experts demonstrate techniques to disarm an assailant with a gun pointing towards your head/torso. I am not judging the capabilities of these individuals but I strongly suggest you do not try this technique. All the assailant has to do is squeeze the trigger. This only takes a split second and your attempt to twist the gun might actually be what causes the trigger pull. The approach I suggest is much safer. Wait for a moment when your assailant points the gun in another direction. This is likely to happen whilst he is shouting instructions and uses the armed hand to point towards what he’s talking about. As soon as the gun is pointing in a safe direction, grab the gun by the barrel (obviously without any part of your hand obstructing the barrel’s end) and hit the assailant with all you’ve got. It’s interesting to note that if the firearm is a pistol it will shoot the loaded round when the trigger is pulled but it will not cycle another round since you will be hindering the slide’s motion. Be careful in the case of a revolver due to the hot gases escaping from around the cylinder. If it is a long firearm, grab the barrel with both hands so that you can exert more leverage. Obviously in the latter case you’ll have to attack with your lower limbs.

Arm Yourself – Improvised Weapons

This article is about unarmed combat in view of situations where you’re not carrying any weapons. This however doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to arm yourself with whatever might come handy. The following are a few ideas of easily obtainable weapons in everyday life.

Sticks such as a broom, billiard or long umbrella-You can swing such sticks to keep your assailant at bay but usually such sticks are fragile and immediately break upon impact dealing very little damage to the target. Instead use ‘weak’ sticks like you would use a lance. They will be less likely to break and will deal a lot of damage due to the low surface area which results in a lot of pressure.

Metal pen-This has a very short reach but you could easily incapacitate someone by stabbing him in the eyes or neck. You can also use a metal pen for pressure points techniques to subdue an assailant. This however requires training.

Stones or any other hard object such as a soda can (full)-These can be used as projectiles especially when you have an ample supply of them. If you’ve got only one it might be better to hold on to it and use it for battering your opponent.

Chair or stool-These can be used as a shield and to keep your assailant at bay as well as for striking. Obviously they can be thrown in the typical western movie style.

Fire extinguisher-You can direct the escaping gas (CO2 will be extremely cold), water, foam or powder in your assailants face. You can also use the cylinder as a battering device or throw it at him. You could even approach the assailant from above and simply drop the fire extinguisher on him.

Stiletto Shoes-If you or anyone accompanying you is wearing stiletto shoes, take them off. You’ll be able to move with more agility (be careful if there is glass or other sharp or hot objects on the ground) and you can use it for stabbing just like you would with a metal pen.

Conclusion

You never know when things are going to turn sour. We do our best to always be prepared to defend ourselves but we might end up in a threatening situation whilst we’re officially unarmed. That doesn’t mean we’re all gonna die. It means that we have to prepare for that scenario like we would for any other. Always be alert of your surroundings and book yourself for a few self-defense classes and keep practicing those techniques. You’ll be glad you have if the need ever arises.

How To Sharpen a Knife

Ancient peoples used anything and everything to sharpen swords and blades of many sized and shapes.  The most common would have been stones and leather since they were not able to run down to Sharper Image for their fancy “5 bean laser enhanced plasma electric honing blade enhancer”.

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Ancient peoples used anything and everything to sharpen swords and blades of many sized and shapes.  The most common would have been stones and leather since they were not able to run down to Sharper Image for their fancy “5 bean laser enhanced plasma electric honing blade enhancer”.

There are a couple techniques and they all work to put a sharp edge back on your Bastard Sword.

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There are different ways to sharpen a blade based on what you’ll be using your knife for as an example a whittling knife may have a different cut than a cooking cleaver.

Smith’s SK2 2-Stone Sharpening Kit

Tools You’ll Need

To sharpen a pocket knife you’ll  need just two things: a sharpening stone (whetting stone) and a lubricant.

Just as there are dozens of different ways to sharpen a knife, there are dozens of different sharpening stones. There are Japanese water stones, stones with diamond encrusted surfaces, and stones with different grades of grit. Again, choosing a stone is a matter of function and preference. Play around with different kinds of stones to find the one that gives you the results you’re looking for.

If you’re sharpening high quality knives, you probably don’t want to use a cheapo sharpening stone. But if you’re just getting started with sharpening your pocket knife, there’s no need to get too fancy right off the bat. You can find a sharpening stone at most hardware stores for about $10.  You won’t need anything fancy. A Basic sharpening stones come with two sides: a rough grit and a fine grit. The finer the grit, the finer or sharper you can get your blade. You usually start off sharpening on the rough grit and then finish sharpening it on the finer grit.

Lubricant. Most knife sharpening experts recommend you use some sort of lubricant when sharpening your knife. The lubricant can come in a variety of forms, from water to oil. Most of the literature out there recommends mineral oil to be used for knife sharpening. The lubricant reduces heat from the friction that is created from sharpening your knife. Too much heat can actually warp your blade. Lubrication also helps clear out the debris, or swarf, that is created as you grind your knife blade on the stone. You can pick this up at most hardware stores for a couple bucks.  Although we mention this lubricant isn’t necessary with most basic stones. So if you’re out in the field and need to sharpen your knife, don’t stop yourself just because you don’t have some mineral oil handy.

How to Sharpen a Pocket Knife

1. Start off with the rough grit. If you have a particularly dull blade, start off with the rough grit side of your sharpening stone. How do you tell which side is the rough grit? Sometimes you can tell by sight. If you can’t do that, do a thumbnail test. Scratch the surface with your thumbnail and whichever side feels rougher, that’s the side you want to start off with. Also, rough grits tend to be more porous than finer grits. So if you put water on one side and the stone really drinks it up, chances are it’s the rough grit.

2. Prep the stone. If you’re using a lubricant, get it out. Pour an ample amount of mineral oil all over the surface of the stone. You don’t need to drench it, but don’t be stingy either.

3. Place the knife blade flat on the stone and raise it to a 10 to 15 degree angle. The key to knife sharpening is maintaining a constant angle. Different knives require different sharpening angles. For a pocket knife, shoot for a 10 to 15 degree angle. This will give you an edge that’s sharp enough for most daily needs, but not sharp enough to perform heart surgery.  Keeping a constant angle by hand takes a lot of practice. If you’re having difficulty, you might consider investing in a sharpening guide. It takes all the guess work out of maintaining the needed angle. They cost about $10.

4. Start sharpening the first side of the blade. With your blade set at the prefect angle, you’re ready to start sharpening. Imagine you’re carving off a slim piece of the stone’s surface. Personally, I bring the blade into the stone. Other people stroke the blade away from the stone. Both ways work, so just use whatever technique you prefer. If the knife blade is curved or if it’s longer than the stone, you’ll need to sweep the blade sideways as you work, so the entire edge is sharpened evenly. Apply moderate pressure as you sharpen. No need to bear down hard on the blade. After you make one stroke, start back at the beginning and repeat. Do this about 6-12 times.

5. Sharpen the other side of the blade. Flip the blade and do the same thing on the other side.

6. Take alternating strokes. After you’ve sharpened each side, make several alternating strokes- sharpening one side and then sharpening the other successively.

7. Flip the stone over on the fine grit and repeat above process.

8. That’s it… for a basic sharpening.

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OXO Good Grips Professional Sharpening Steel

Sharpening with a Steel

When a knife is used, the edge eventually becomes dull. The edge will turn either to the left or right side depending on how you hold your knife when cutting. Quality knives with high carbon/molybdenum/vanadium alloy have elasticity and can easily be re-aligned by a sharpening steel. Do not use a diamond-coated steel or a pull-through manual or electric sharpening device for maintaining the edge. These devices will destroy your turned edge. They can be used to sharpen, but not for maintanance.

Place the knife blade against the tip of the sharpening steel at an angle of approximately 20 degrees. Pull the knife down and across the steel, describing a slight arc. Repeat this action on the back of the steel to sharpen the other side of the blade. Repeat steps 2 and 3 five to ten times, alternating the left and right side of the blade. It is very important to maintain the angle of 20 degrees and to run the full length of the cutting edge along the steel from the hilt to the tip of the knife. Speed of movement plays no part in this process.
    

Sharpening a Straight Razor

You can learn to sharpen any razor on a stone, and if you have experience, or use the right sharpening system you will get very good results.  The principle of grinding any knife is restoring the gross shape of a blade according to it’s grind-type ; this is mostly done with machines such as grinding wheels. Grinding does not sharpen a knife.  The principle of honing is to create a good cutting edge angle and the blade part directly adjacent to it, the relief. The relief is created by honing with a secondary angle on a stone until a burr appears, and subsequently create the primary angle (this is the cutting angle, which is somewhat greater than the secondary angle, but both under 25 degrees) to remove the burr. The relief/secondary/primary angle principle makes the blade more resistant for less than delicate use.

Sharpening Serrated Blades

First, obtain the correct sharpening tools to perform the task. Many of the sharpening kits on the market offer serration hones as options.  Second, have the proper technique to use.

Most factory ground serrations will have the same angle as the plain edge portion (assuming the blade is partially serrated), which means in the neighborhood of 20 to 25 degrees.

Once everything is set up, you can begin the process. Using firm pressure, work the hone in a back-and-forth motion, perpendicular to the cutting edge. Every so often, stop and feel for a raised burr on the backside of the blade. Only move on to the next tooth when you see or feel a raised burr. Once you have completed sharpening the ground side of the blade, flip the knife over.

Types of Sharpeners

There are many good sharpeners on the market today. The main factor in sharpening is the device you use to remove the material from the blade must maintain a uniform angle for you and not allow your efforts from stroke to stroke to change the angle of pressure you are putting on the cutting surface of the blade. If this angle relationship is changing from stroke to stroke, you will end up with a rounded edge that will feel sharp for a short period of time and dull rapidly.

Sources:  http://www.knifecenter.com/info/sharpening-instructions, http://www.artofmanliness.com/2009/03/05/how-to-sharpen-a-pocket-knife/