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The other day a friend informed me that he had made a decision. For the past six years he has studied the Japanese art of Jujitsu and he is very talented and extremely proud of his black belt. Save except a few instances, for those six years he has diligently attended class twice a week and always leaves drenched in sweat and every now and then he leaves with a small bit of blood on his uniform (usually not his own). However, now he feels that he's getting older (he's 56) and he can't take the punishment of going to class that much so for now on he's only going to attend classes every other week.
He said that the only reason he goes to class so much is that he wants to be prepared to defend himself and his wife should he ever need to, so he has to be able to keep up with the "young guys". After years of being thrown around and having his joints twisted in all sorts of odd shapes he now feels that its time to take it easier and for a few years he has wanted to cut down on is training. The reason that he hasn't until now is that he feels that if he isn't constantly practicing in the dojo if something was to happen he might not be in top form to take care of it.
"So, what's changed?" I asked him, "why are you now deciding to cut down on your training when you weren't comfortable doing that a year or two ago?"
He leaned towards me with a grin that made me just a little uncomfortable and said, "I'm going to cheat".
"Well that's between you and your wife, but what does that have to do with Jujitsu?" I asked
"No," he said with a pissed off grimace, "I'm going to start carrying a knife". He reached in his pocket and pulled out a black folding knife and handed it to me. "I figure if I start carrying a knife and use that as my first line of defense then I can back off on Jujitsu a little. If some teenage bastard tries something with me I'm going to cut him up first, and then if I lose my knife I'll use my Jujistu."
I did my best to try to bite my tounge, that was until I opened the knife. It was black and it looked like something you'd see in a futureistic military movie. Just looking at it you could tell that is was designed for stabbing someone to death, and to top it off on the blade it said in big letters: Jim Wagner Reality Based Blade.
"Saved by the Bell the College Years!" I shouted (I'm trying to stop swearing), "First of all you bought a Jim Wagner product? Really? That guy is a barnackle on the taint of the self-defense/martial arts industry. Learning from Jim Wagner is like getting your rapist to wear a condom, things might turn out a little better than they otherwise might be, but not much! And look at this knife! Do you honestly think that you're going to be able to carry this and not have it either taken away from you by the cops or end up in prison? If you ever have to use it against someone the prosecuter is going to take one look at it and infer your intent based on the kind of knife you're carrying."
I understand his thought process but it really doesn't work that way. Carring a weapon, any weapon, is not an excuse to cut back on your self-defense training. If you decide to carry a gun and you're smart enough to take a course in defensive shooting, your instructor, provided he's worth his salt, will tell you that chances are that you'll have to use your empty hand skills first.
If you can see a situation coming and draw your gun in advance then it's a good day, but chances are you'll end up having an attacker confront you at very close range, within a few feet, and you'll have to use your self-defense techniques to at the very least push your attacker back to give you time and room to get at your gun, pull it out, aquire your target, and effectively operate it. Most defensive shooting instructors will tell you that you're probably going to have to deal with the first attacker bare handed and then, provided you have time, you can deal with any additional attackers with your firearm. The knife is no different.
As far as the exact knife goes, DON'T buy some fancy fighting knife!! If you buy some fancy "Jim Wagner, I'm Going To Kill Somebody" knife then the cops and the district attorney are going to, at the very least, hold you to a higher standard, and, in the extreme, think that you went looking for trouble.
I do carry a knife with me but it is for utility purposes. I carry a simple pocket knife that is sharp, clipped to my pocket, and has a blade within the legal limits. If need be I could use my knife for self-defense, as I could any knife, so I simply don't need to spend a butt-load of money on some fancy "combat" knife that advertises to the world that you have a knife and you're looking for an opportunity to pull it.
Like everybody, I'd rather be judged by twelve than carried by six, but those twelve...they're a bitch.