Tuesday, April 30, 2013

New Boundaries And Kubatons

Over the weekend our Krav instructor was at the Tactical Defense Institute getting a brush up on his technique in impact weapons such as batons, kubatons, canes and other striking instruments.

Whenever our instructor goes out to train we can always expect to go over that same material when he gets back. When he went to a ground fighting class he came back and we did ground fighting for a month. When he went to a knife class we spent a few classes on knives. When he went to a personal control class we were doing joint manipulations and submissions. So, I was very much expecting some impact weapons when showing up at class.

I was not disappointed.

He walked into class carrying a handful of foam paint brushes. These would be our trainer kubatons. He also had an armful of foam wrapped PVC pipes for batons. 

Just as we were getting started a fourteen-year-old girl and her family came in and our instructor asked her if she wanted to participate. Even though she shied away from the idea at first, he convinced her to come and join us.

We worked some strikes and simple techniques with our foamish kubatons and then we worked on each other. There was only two of us in class besides the girl since my husband injured his hand and so I was paired with the girl for the first part of the class. It was no surprise to me that she was very timid and it took a lot of encouragement to get her to do any kind of striking but she was willing to learn and apply herself. She did very well for her first time.

Later on we switched partners and I got paired with the biggest guy in our class. A former wrestler who is probably on the plus side of 250 lbs and somewhere north of 6'3". But he knows how to spar. His seventeen year-old daughter comes to Krav with him often and he doesn't let up on us little gals. He'll make me work for whatever I get which is great.

After a while our instructor introduced a scenario. He was trying to explain to the girl that someone trying to take her to another location was meaning her great harm and it was time to go nuts.

He started circling her asking her to go to a party. She curled her arms to her chest and was saying no but he persisted. Finally he reached out his hand and grabbed hers and started dragging her away. She laughed the sort of nervous giggle of someone who doesn't know what to do and made a few attempts to hit around his hand but he was able to drag her off the mat with little effort.

Then he turned to me.

"You want to come to a party with me?"

"No!" I answered.

He was circling me and staying deliberately outside of my striking distance.

"Come on. Come to a party with me."

"No! Get away!"

"Come on. It's a really cool party. Come with me."

He wavered on my striking boundary and when he leaned forward to cross it I plowed into him, striking his chest with my open hand and bringing my trainer kubaton down on his neck and collar bone. Over and over again I smashed his chest and collar bone area in what he called a recurring hammer first.

I drove him back and disengaged, stepped back, got back in my fighting stance and said, "I don't want to fight!"

He laughed, "I was trying to show her what you would do if I grabbed you but you didn't let me get to that."

Everyone laughed. My husband, JD, sitting on the side lines just smiled and said, "BIG difference from just a couple of months ago! Good job."

So as our instructor approached me again he said, "Let me grab you this time."

I let him grab me by the throat, took my kubaton and got control of his arm and when I had it he said, "Now what are you going to do?" And without much thought I delivered a pretty good kick to the groin. Perhaps just a little harder than I had meant. Even with a cup he fell to the floor with a look of discomfort on his face.

"I meant TELL me what you were going to do."

We had a little more fun after that. Every great once in a while we abandon all structure and just play and which ever student our instructor is playing with ends up on the floor in some strange ball of pain-induced submission. Every GREAT once in a while we students can keep the upper hand and get him to tap out. I was laughing as I tapped out, laying on the floor, with my feet out in front of me and my arm twisted in ways I'm pretty sure arms are not supposed to twist.

When we left class JD told me again what a big difference it was watching me from just a month ago when I would let him and others get far too close to me.

I told him I had that "ah-ha" moment and realized that if someone is getting close to me and I tell him no or to get away from me that his continuing to get closer to me is an overt threat and I will attack when he crosses my strike boundary.

He was pleased with this. It took me a little bit to finally get it but now that it's there it's pretty set.

And I am LOVING working with a kubaton. I've carried one for years and have always liked the idea of a striking weapon (of course, mine also has pepper spray in it so it's even better) but I've never had much training in one. I was always told that I could use a kubaton similarly as to how I would use a knife and that was enough for me, but seeing all the other fun stuff that can be done with it makes me that much more happy to have one on my person. The kubaton is my new best friend and I hope we continue to work with it for some time.

I know eventually we are going to be moving on the the baton and I'll see what there is to see there but I'm thinking the kubaton and I are going to be special friends for quite some time.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Train Your Young Kids for Security

This isn't so much about guns as it is about security of young children in or around the first grade or younger category.

If I had a nickle for every time my son called me a mean mommy I'd have somewhere around a dollar or two. I am strict. I demand obedience. When I don't get it, I discipline. I don't negotiate with my children when it comes to matters of keeping them safe.

Some think I'm too strict. They think I don't give enough leniency to my children. I don't let them be kids.

I do let my children be children. They can go outside and play and make noise and throw toys and be the children they want to be... in certain venues.

When it comes to places I have not and cannot secure, however, I become mommy-bodyguard. And when a bodyguard takes on a client that client has certain rules he needs to follow in order to be secured. Even the president gets ordered around by Secret Service when it comes to security and so my children (son, 4 years old; daughter, 1 year old) have sets of orders they are expected to follow as well.

1. They should be quiet.
Not in the "children should be seen and not heard" sense but in the "no screaming and making unnecessary noise" sense. I love talking to my son and chattering with him when we are out and about but if he's screaming and making unnecessary noise he is a huge distraction from everything else going on. The same is said for my daughter. She's still quite young to understand being quiet but we're working on her. My son does very well.

If he wants to take a toy with him places it is a toy that doesn't make noise. When he talks, I expect him to use a conversational voice unless it is a true emergency. And then he is expected to scream bloody murder.

2. The busier the environment the closer they stay to me.
Again, my daughter is still young. She's walking now and enjoying her freedom but when out and about she still is mostly confined to a carrier, a cart or stroller. When not crowded I will let her walk around but only if she's holding her brother's hand. She doesn't always like her big brother holding on to her but I prefer it that way. Then they are together and I'm not having to split my attention in several directions.

And as it gets busier I will take my daughter and my son is told to stay with me. If he's having a hard time with distractions that will mean holding on to the shopping cart, my shirt or bag. Disobeying is met with discipline. I cannot risk the lives of my children because they couldn't obey me when I told them what to do.

3. They should leave if I tell them to leave. 
After reading the article Are Your Instincts Putting Your Child In Danger by Greg Ellifritz I realized that the instinct to collect your children to yourself may not be the best one. If in a confrontation you may be the one that is drawing violence that you do not want your children caught up in. At very least you may need mobility to move and act without your children hanging on to you or under your feet.

I know the idea of sending your child away when there is danger is completely opposite of everything a parent feels and I struggled to accept that concept as valid. But there is a logic to it that cannot be denied and it's imperative that your judgement in the matter be clear.

Are you being targeted or your child? Are there multiple attackers that could collect the child and use him or her as a human shield depending on which direction you send your child?

Something that has been talked about before is the difference between running from danger and running towards safety. A young child might not be able to distinguish the difference and so you may have to be very specific in your instructions to him or her.

If you have older children this might not be so scary. You can sit down with a fifteen year-old and explain what you expect of him or her and even trust him to look out for himself to a point. Telling a young teen to run out the back of the store and to lock himself in the car is not an unreasonable request nor should it be too difficult for him to accomplish. A four-year-old, however, or those with developmental delays can be a different story.

Young or delayed children may be confused by commands or too frightened to act on them. What we have practiced with our children is creating short distances. If you are in a store and pushing a cart or stroller, push the cart away from you and tell him to go to the cart or stroller. Pick a place in a store that the child knows and loves like the toy department or, in the case of our local grocery store, the bakery with the Thomas the Train cakes on display. While I would be loath to send my young child out of my sight it's better than him getting caught between me and a bad guy, especially if guns might be coming out.

This can become even harder for those of us with little ones still in arms and though I've consulted with Ellifrtiz on this topic we both drew a blank without more trial and error and I've come to the conclusion that some things don't have good solutions. You wouldn't want to drop your baby to fight as dropping a child can be just as damaging to him or her as any incoming violence. If you carry your baby in some sort of carrier you will likely not have time to remove him or her. If in a physical altercation your child will be in the middle of it.

My personal recommendation for people with babies in arms would be to increase your personal space and heighten your suspicion of those who get inside that space. I'd also recommend carrying a non-lethal tool such as pepper spray that is particularly easy to access. Clipped right to the baby carrier is a good start. In hand when possible is even better. This allows you at least to have a non-lethal option of some distance that will allow for some sort of defense that doesn't require physically tangling with someone with your baby in the middle or going to lethal options like guns.

I carry a combination kubaton/pepper spray canister on my keys which I keep in hand whenever I'm carrying my daughter. Even though I have a gun on my hip I already have a defensive tool in my hand. Even if approached with lethal force I can immediately pepper spray and buy myself a moment to get out my gun (if it's still needed) and/or get out of there.

And when it comes to guns, work, work, work your one-hand drills. 

4. They should get into car seats quickly and through the same door.
We all know parking lots are common attack points. And mothers loading kids into cars are pretty prime targets, especially if she has more than one and has to move around the car getting all of her kids into it. All the doors are typically unlocked and some open. You don't have to look hard to see stories or videos of criminals plopping themselves down in the passenger seats of unlocked cars while the owner pumped gas, loaded groceries or sat there surfing on a cell phone.

I prefer to have one location in which my children enter our vehicle so that I can funnel the access to the vehicle. When we approach our vehicle I unlock it with the key fob. Once all doors are unlocked I open the door through which my children will enter and then I immediately lock all of the doors. That way, should I have to slam the door I know my children will be safely locked in and no one can enter the vehicle through another door or even the door my kids just entered. I then clip my keys to person, mainly because I don't want to put them down on the backseat while strapping my kids in their seats and end up locking them in the car and myself out of it (been there, done that). 

When the kids are in the car I check around me before diving in to snap buckles. With only one child or a larger vehicle you can get in the car and shut the door while fastening straps as well, for those with multiple children or smaller cars that might be more difficult.

As my children age and are able to master sequences like getting into the car, locking the door and putting on a seatbelt this might change, but as they are young and still need a lot of help I prefer to keep access to the car as limited as possible. It also keeps me from having to worry about my kid running off into a busy parking lot while waiting for me to buckle in his little sister.

5. Talk to Strangers

You heard me!

I teach my children to talk to strangers. Because if I'm on the floor, tangled up with some bad guy, I want my child to be comfortable approaching someone for help and identifying himself (more on that later).

Police officers are strangers. EMTs are strangers. Firefighters are strangers. Nurses are strangers. Doctors are strangers. And these are all people that I hope my child would be comfortable talking to if in need. So the key here is not to teach him not to talk to strangers but to talk to the least risky ones and what conversation is appropriate and inappropriate.

High-risk stranger: solo guy taking pictures of kids at the play ground.
Low-risk stranger: Mom pushing two kids in a shopping cart.

Appropriate conversation: Where's your Mom? Let's go find her!
Inappropriate conversation: Want to help me find my puppy? 

While down in Tennessee these last two weeks I had opportunity to go out to a lot of kid-friendly places like the zoo and different stores and eateries. The level of distraction and lack of control of some parents absolutely astounds me, not from a parenting stand-point (that's their own business) but from a security stand-point. If those parents needed to suddenly act in defense I can see little less than disaster ensuing.

Thankfully, having to defend yourself around your children is pretty rare. But that's what we're good at preparing for, isn't it?

Stay Tuned for Part 2: Other Things To Consider In Child Security

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened At Partner Tactics

In May of 2012, my husband and I loaded up our gear and took the longish journey down to the Tactical Defense Institute (TDI) in West Union, OH. We'd taken the trip a few times before for Handguns 1-3 and for Defensive Knife but this was the first time we were going to do some training for the collective us. We'd wanted to take a partner's tactics class for years and we were finally doing it.

TDI's Partner Tactics class is hailed as one of the funnest classes to take. I can't speak for everyone but it was a lot of fun, very relaxing, enjoyable weather and some great company. We got to see old friends and meet new ones or meet old friends' better halves. While the class is designed for any kind of partner dynamic, be it military, police or otherwise, the majority of the students were husband and wife duos which made the class a sort-of pseudo marital retreat. Many couples had been to the class several times, making a sort of romantic holiday of it.

The three day course consists of partner movement drills while also communicating with him or her both verbally and non-verbally. Something a lot harder to do in practice than in theory. We learned partner room clearing, up and down stairs, around corners, through hallways, etc. We learned escaping vehicles, cover, concealment, group settings, partner rescue, leap-frogging and all sorts of other great tools for partners who need to work together with guns.

Attending the class for a second time was an older couple we will call Bill and Jane. Bill was in his late seventies and Jane in her late sixties. She was about as hyper as I am and three times as talkative. No matter where she went she left a sea of smiles behind her because of her propensity to suddenly jump off a flight of stairs or say something completely off the wall but hilarious. At the same time she was deathly serious about everything making it that much more entertaining and endearing.

They were dressed far more for comfort than for any semblance of style. They both wore large frame glasses and she wore a blurred patch over one eye to help her with eye-dominance issues. Their hat wear looked as though it may have come from an advertisement for an African Safari and they both wore tan shooting vests with more pockets than military utilities. But not to be threatened with appearing average, she would don a different colorful scarf or otherwise bright and colorful oddity to remind the world she was still very much young at heart.

While doing stair-clearing drills with unloaded firearms she had us all cracking up with her "PEW! PEW!" sound effects. While doing the walk through of the shoot houses, you could find her skulking around corners, crawling around obstacles and using her finger as a pistol while things were being explained.

Her husband was a quite a bit more serious and took her shenanigans in stride. Always by her side he rarely opened his mouth unless they were on the firing line and needed to communicate as that fighting team. At which point, he communicated ceaselessly...

"Firing! Changing! Moving! What's the condition of your gun?! Check your world!"

The couple had their own lingo they had brought with them to the class ("green" meaning the individual had a loaded and functioning firearm in the fight, "red" meaning the firearm was not functional and needed his or her partner to cover) and it worked well for them. They were both so serious about everything and seemingly completely unaware of the joy they spread to the rest of the group.

On the second day we all went up to the upper range to practice shooting our way out of vehicles and then using partner tactics to get to safety.

The scenario starts with the partnered pair sitting in an old, beat up van, seat belted and doors locked. On the command of "fire" or "gun" the pair was to engage a number of targets on both sides of the van (and hidden around other cars), egress from the vehicle and move to safety.

Everyone had their turn and next up was Bill and Jane.

Jane got in the driver's side and Bill got in the passenger's side. They strapped themselves in, shut the doors and waited. The instructor yelled, "GUN!!!" and it was on.

Except nothing happened.

We were all sitting a few yards to the rear of the van, waiting for gunfire, the doors on the van to bust open, anything!

Nothing. The van didn't move. The doors didn't open. There seemed to be absolutely nothing going on. The instructor, who had moved to the rear of the van to stay out of the way, peeked around the corner with the same look of confusion as the rest of us. He took a step forward, presumably to see what the hold up was and the driver's side door flew open.

Jane rang out a long, blood-curdling war cry, "DIE!!!!!!!"

And all hell broke loose. Gunfire broke out from each side of the van as Bill and Jane fired and everyone else broke down laughing.

They moved down the sides of the van screaming at each other ("MOVING TO THE REAR!") and their targets.

When they finally made it to the back we were nearly in tears from laughing so hard.

Jane got in what was fast becoming her classic squat. Legs wide spread, squatting down until her butt nearly touched the ground, arms stretching her gun out in front of her leaning from side to side like some skinny, oddly dressed creature out of a Lord of the Rings movie with a gun. She was screaming, "GREEN!"

Bill, standing more erect, was comical only in the absence of his wife's erratic, bouncy and sometimes sporadic movement answered with, "GREEN! Are you alright?"

"I'M ALRIGHT! GREEN!" she answered.


"CHECKING MY WORLD! CLEAR ON THE RIGHT!" Her body bounced right to left like some strange ape while he stood over her merely looking side to side.


Jane, "GREEN!"

But no matter what, we could not get over the hilarity that was this sixty-some-year-old woman, dressed in a safari hat, colored scarf and tactical vest, throwing open the car door and screaming, "DIE!" at the top of her lungs.

Even though I wouldn't be laughing if I had to face the both of them in a gun battle. They were an effective pair!