02 February 2016

Knockers- subtle, discreet, effective

Knockers pictured with Fellhoelter Ti Bold Pen & Microtech UDT

Get yours today

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M4 Basics- everything before the bang

01 February 2016

MCS Correspondence Course Lesson 004- Biting : Effective in the worst situtaions

Ronald Poppo, the victim of the "Miami Cannibal"
Boys will be boys and when they roughhouse, with some exceptions, while wrestling around there are unspoken rules.  You don't punch me in the balls, or try to choke me, and I won't punch you in the balls, or choke you.  An attempt at doing either of these things will quickly escalate a fight or end it.  Beyond pre-school you seldom see any biting.  At the age of knowing right and wrong we are hard wired not to bite other people.

If you talk to people that put their hands on people for a living like cops, corrections officers, and bouncers, they can tell you tons of stories of people wrestling, kicking, and punching them, but few stories about being bit.  There will be some, and they will stand out because it does not happen that often.  From experience I can tell you that even when someone tries to bite you, you have a very primitive response that I can only liken to being attacked by bees.

Because it is so rare, biting provokes a extreme panic response, making it an excellent go to for
Typical bite to the forearm 
kids, women, elderly and disabled.  These people are prayed on because they are identified as weak by the predator.  They are creatures of habit, just like us and tend to pick the low hanging fruit, people that they expect little to no fright from.  Because they underestimate their victims, they will likely take less care in how much they expose themselves than they would to a regular person.

Regardless of age, size, or infirmity, peoples mouth usually still works.  But unless you cross the mental barrier in your mind against biting someone, you will not think of doing it even when your life depends on it.

Any bite is a good bite to attempt escape, but I would suggest the face, neck, hands and inner arms.  The face, neck and hands are likely to be exposed no matter what the weather is and will be easy targets during any attempted sexual assault.

To effectively bite you should bite into exposed flesh if possible, taking as big as a bite as possible and rip a chunk out as if you were biting into a steak.  Most attackers will probably be no stranger to being hit, or even shot and stabbed, there is a very low probability that they have ever suffered a human bite.  This will quickly become their focus and they will likely be overcome with shock.  Keep in mind that it is a last ditch effort to save your like, because if you fail, they are going to pretty angry.

Experience tells us that children often don't realize they are being abducted until it is over.  When women are abducted they are often frozen with fear.  In both cases this fear changes form and as the abduction moves to where the predator feels save to abuse and kill them.  The transport time to this location, and while at the location may provide some "thinking" time for the victim to realize they need to take action.

Again I will say, if there are certain people in your life that you think this information would be the most beneficial too, be sure to share it with them ahead of time, they will not think of it on their own.

While looking for pictures for this post I found many that I was not comfortable posting because I know that someone may be reading over your shoulder and the pictures are too graphic.  You can search on your own if you need further convincing that biting can be a great equalizer and save someones life.

Yes, I am aware that biting someone could expose you to disease.  That is why biting is only advised when your life is in danger.

29 January 2016

MCS Correspondence Course Lesson 003 - Combatives Lesson #1

Met with John Pavoncello, MCS Instructor and president of Pho-Tac today.  We discussed our plans for the the MCS Correspondence Course and will begin filming video segments next week.

After more than a decade of doing this it is very often the case that I think about an idea for an article or video and come to find out that I have already done it.  This is the case with this video.  I subscribe to the crawl, walk, run method of instruction that I was taught in the Army.  This video covers the absolute fundamentals for dealing with unarmed personal conflict within arms reach.  This is the first thing we cover in any Spontaneous Attack Survival Course.  DO NOT LET ANYONE PUT THEIR HANDS ON YOU.  This is true for all situations.

For the last 2.5 years my "day job" is working with intellectually disabled adults.  At times they can be explosively aggressive and do not always have the tell tale body language and patterns of movement that you and I would have before they attack.  This gives me lots of practice at not letting people put their hands on me.  It was the same working as a cop or a bouncer.

The goal of this is that even if money, time, and space prohibit you from training with me or another instructor, that I take the complex and make it simple, allowing you to train with family members and friends.  I want you passing it on and teaching it.  Your teenage daughter in college will probably need this before you do.

Work on these simple things first and feel free to post questions on Facebook or e-mail me.  After a few days I will break the video down even farther.

The primary takeaway is to move to the outside when you can and drive up the middle when you can't.  This leads into edged weapon defense because you have distal control of the offending hand.  You will see some advocate simply wrapping the entire arm, this is fine if it a punch, but if there is a blade you don't see you will get gutted.  We treat all attacks as if there is knife we don't see.

Also, I do my best to provide the best information available for the average guy,   If you would like to donate to keep it going I would appreciate it.  You can donate using Pay Pal to mercop27@gmail.,com.  Enjoy the video.

19 January 2016

On the March- Wisdom from the Road 003

Just got back from my coldest ruck so far.  It is 20 degrees but feels like 6 degrees with the windchill.  I knew that as usual it was going to be my hands and head that I had to keep warm for me to be warm. I have discussed before that other pro when it comes to the head and hands is that it is an easy way to vent and adjust your thermostat on the move.  Today I broke out snivel gear that before today I only really used when riding my Harley in the winter.  It came as no surprise that two items that keep me toasty on the bike did the same for me while rucking.  Lets take a look at these to inexpensive options for cold weather hand and head protection-

Schampa Pharaoh Balaclava - this provides the ultimate coverage for your head, face and neck.  The tuckable bib means that the neck, one of the major sources of heat is kept protected.  If you begin to overheat you can vent by simply pulling it out of whatever you have it tucked into.  The Pharaoh fits nice and snug with no slop so it stays put.  You can wear it as shown, pull it under your nose, or under you mouth.  Even with wind gust up to 26 MPH my head, face, and neck were nice and cozy today.  By the end the ruck the moisture was drawn to the outside but dried out pretty fast once I got home.

USGI Trigger Finger Mittens-  these things are the cats ass when it comes to keeping your hands warm when it is freezing.  Only the trigger finger and thumb are articulated, and your other three fingers are together in the mitten.   Like I
said, I first got these for the motorcycle because nothing else kept my hands warm.  Riding 60 MPH in 20 degrees made me a believer.  The trigger finger and thumb was all I needed to use my clutch and break.  Part of the reason they are so warm is because of piping that we have talked about before.  As you can see the long cuff goes up and over your sleeves so that is the way the wind goes.  Gloves, even very warm winter gloves have that nasty chill inducing gap between the glove and your sleeve.  Pulling your sleeve over it means that unless they are cinched the wind will blow right up it.  At the top of the mittens is elastic.  These are a two part system, the over mitten is a cotton/nylon blend and has a leather palm and fingers.  The liners are 100% wool, which as we know retains heat
even when wet.  Today by the end of my first mile which was right around 15 minutes my hands were already sweaty.  By the end of the third mile they were almost drippy.  If the weather is same on the next ruck I will wear just the outer gloves.  When using these of course you loose dexterity, but certainly no more than with insulted gloves, but you gain so much more.  For even the most passive cold weather activity these will keep your hands warm.  Seldom does the miltary get it right with a piece of gear.  But these, along with the Woobie poncho liner, and M65 field jacket are my favorites.  Besides online you will likely be able to find these at any Army Navy store or gun shows.

Shaving seconds & protecting your back

When rucking just as with plain old hiking you have three basic types of terrain; uphill, downhill, flats.  As I continue my quest to get to achieving 3 miles in 45 min  ( I am at 47:18 now) with a 35 lb pack, I have found that the little things count the most.  The littlest thing is the biggest thing.  How you walk, or more importantly how your foot strikes the ground and how long it is there.  Here are my tactics for protecting my back and shaving time on each of the three types of terrain.

Downhill-  I put downhill first because it has been my concentration for saving time and is where a misstep will likely cause injury.  The first thing I need to say is YOUR HEEL SHOULD NEVER EVER HIT THE GROUND FIRST.  Your bones have zero flexion in them, thats how they provide structure.  Most of us have had the unpleasant pain of stepping off a curb and having our heal absorb all the force of the misstep.  This sends a shooting pain straight up your legs into your back.  You need to avoid having your heel being the first part of your foot to strike the ground at all costs.  When it does, it concentrates all of your weight, including the pack up past the knee that is probably locked and right into your back.  You may get away with this clod hopping for a while, but this accompanied with an ill fitting or ill adjusted heavy pack can cause a life altering injury in one step.  If the weight of your pack shift to the side as your heel strikes the ground going down a steep hill it will tweak your back.  Another issue that
can cause issues, usually sprained ankles is the practice of moving down a steep hill leading with your weak side foot.  This puts a lot of force on the side of your foot and creates a tipping point.  Once your body and pack moves just past that point you are very likely to roll your ankle.  I realized about a month ago that I could speed up my decents doing the following.   By making contact with the ball of my foot, where I am pointing to in the picture I am using my foot, ankle, and knees as they were designed to absorb shock through their flexion.  The second part takes some practice.  My foot does not rest on the ground, it is only there long enough to allow my other foot to move forward.  In other words I am never posting on it.  Soon this becomes second nature, and doing so makes it impossible to lock your knee all the way out which is required for a heel strike.  I hope this make sense.  To the casual observer it still looks like your whole foot is hitting the ground at the same point.

Flats- my two tips for picking up speed on flats are as follows.

Swing your arms faster, the faster they swing the faster your legs move.

Pick your feet up only high enough to clear the ground, extra hang time means that your are not moving forward.

As with the downhill, your foot should only be on the ground long enough to support your other foot as it moves forward.

Uphill-  this is where I feel myself getting stronger and more powerful every ruck.  Not only with how fast I take them but with how fast I am able to reset my breathing after climb.  By absolute best advice here it to constantly look up, pick out something in the distance to focus on instead of looking down.  You will be surprised how much this helps.

Replacing Hiking  Boots

A general rule of thumb with most athletic shoes is to replace them every 500 miles.  You might think it takes a long time to chalk up that mileage, but that is not the case.  Right now I average 10 miles a week, and often it is 17/18.  Even at 10 a week that is 40 per month equaling 480 per year.  This does not take into account casual wear and the weight of your gear.  Keep that in mind.

13 January 2016

Review- Mechanix Fastfit Insulated Gloves

Mechanix Insulated Fastfit Gloves pictured with Hill People Kit Bag and Mystery Ranch 3 Day Assault Pack
Even though I have tried other brands and types of gloves over the last 15 or so years, I always seem to come back to Mechanix Gloves.  The reasons are as follows-

Fit- they run true to size even from style to style, even the insulated.
Function- because they run true to size, they don't suffer from thumbs and fingers that are too long as I have found in some other gloves.  I am a fan of the Fastfit series because I hate having a Velcro closure over my watch.  Because of their spot on sizing, they have better tactile sensation than other comparable gloves.

Cost and ease of replacement-  I am brand loyal, especially in what I consider essential gear, and gloves being protective gear are essential.  Because of contact with surfaces and use, they also wear out the most.  There is nothing worse than loving a piece of gear, having it wear out, and having to wait to have a replacement shipped.  You can find Mechanix Gloves at just about every auto parts store, and some styles at Wal Mart.  Also, any Mechanix retailers can order any of their gloves.  This is good to know since I have yet to see the insulated Fastfits for sale where I see Mechanix for sale.  The only reason I know about the insulated gloves is because I stumbled across them on their website.  At under $20, these gloves don't really have any competition.

Obviously the first thing I worried about was that in manufacturing they just added insulation to the regular Fastfit and the result would be the glove being too tight.  As soon as I put them on, I found that was not the case.  They fit better than any cold weather glove I have ever worn.  Most "outdoor" insulated gloves are puffy and bulky and only good for keeping your hands warm, but don't lend themselves to actually working with your hands.  If you need to be able to immediately use your hands, say for such things as using a firearm, that is a problem.

The gloves were thin enough to allow me to perform full manual of arms with pistol, AR, and pump shotgun.  I was also able to speed load my 38 snubbie.  But the obvious question you want answered is if they keep your damn hands warm when it is cold out.

Here in southern PA we had some very unseasonably warm weather at the end of 2015, so this review has been delayed.  Over the past month or so I have worn the gloves while road marching, but today was by far the coldest.  When I was out rucking today, the temperature was a brisk 20 degrees, but the windchill dropped that to just 10 degrees.  My ruck today lasted 45 minutes.  Here are my thoughts.

One of the biggest things I have learned while rucking is not to dress too warm. It is amazing how much heat the human body generates while exercising, even in the bitter cold.  My hands were comfortable the entire ruck even with wind gusts coming across wide open fields.  It was only at the end that I could feel that my hands were just starting to sweat.

These gloves are not waterproof which is a good thing because waterproof gloves usually mean that moisture does not get in...or out, They are often bulky as well. That means your hands get sweaty and will not stay warm.  Don't use these for making snowballs.

The best use for the insulated Fastfits are to keep your hands warm when involved in moderate activity.  They would not be my first choice for sitting in a deer stand.  They are an excellent cold weather EDC glove.  On days when the wind is light and the temp is hovering around freezing, I think I would wear my regular Fastfit while active and switch out to the insulated while not exerting myself very much.

In closing, I just want to say that I am glad to find a glove to fill the void between the regular Fastfit and the Polar Pro, which I have yet to try.

Remember, take care of your hands.  You only have two.

08 January 2016

Losing a Brother to a felon with a knife & and the realities of violence

Tom Malenski
Yesterday I did something that I have been able to avoid for my entire professional career.  I attended the sentencing of a man who murdered someone I considered a Brother, and gave a victims impact statement.

You have heard me talk about all situations involving a setting/environment, actors, and a scene.  The following is based on evidence given in open court, and this said in the news that I could cooberate with people that I trust.  The only exception being a conversation I had with one of the victims.

Scene/Environment-  The Ottobar located at 2549 N Howard Street Baltimore MD.  The Ottobar is well known in the Baltimore/DC area as a venue for punk rock music.  As you walk in the Ottobar, if you go to the right you will walk past the stage and pit until you get to a few steps leading to the downstairs bar.  If you walk in and go straight up the stairs it leads to the upstairs bar complete with two pool tables.  The upstairs is basically just a neighborhood bar.


Tom Malenski, 35, long time bouncer at the Ottobar
Marty Clay, long time bouncer at the Ottobar
Nicholas Heath, 32 on parole for burglary, possession of a handgun

Scenario- On Fridday 26SEP14 Tom was off duty and had attended a show downstairs before heading upstairs to hang out.  Tom had been sober since 2002.  Marty had worked the downstairs show but had been "cut" from the shift due to low attendance.  Marty too when upstairs to hang out.  At some point a friend of Heath's made some inappropriate comments to a female and had been advised by staff to stop.  After another complaint was made to staff the individual was told that he had to leave.  This individual had been a problem before and was familiar to both Tom and Marty, he also know that they were bouncers.  Tom and Marty walked the subject out with little to no physical contact.  As they did, Heath remained at the bar.  Once outside the subject refused to leave the property and Tom and Marty chased him south on Howard St.  As this was occurring, surveillance shows him calmly paying for his drink, folding his coat neatly and laying it over his left forearm, before heading down the steps to exit.

While walking down the steps, surveillance shows him removing a folding knife from his right pocket.  The knife was previously shown clipped to his pocket while at the bar.  Once exiting the bar, instead of turning right to walk down the alley to where his vehicle was parked, Heath instead turned left after seeing Tom and Marty and walked toward them.  According to Marty, Heath approached them without saying anything or taking any sort of an aggressive stance.  Heath, concealing the blade with the jacket on his left arm, moved into contact distance and using an angle #1 attack (traveling diagonally from high right to low left) slashes the left side of Marty's face.   To further evidence that Heath showed minimal pre-attack indicators, Marty says that he thought he had been punched, and stepped back to put up his "dukes", this indicates that nothing about Heath's actions before the actual attack gave him reason to even have his hands up.  Marty stated that in this split second he realized something was wrong because his "face was not moving".  Also in this split second Tom steeped in front of Marty and was also cut by Heath using an Angle #1(traveling diagonally from high right to low left).  This cut slashed the left side of Tom's throat.  As Tom lay mortally wounded, Heath fled the scene.

Spyderco Civilian
Heath was arrested the next day in Howard County MD and was found to be carrying a 8 Ball of Cocaine.  The knife used, as Spyderco Civlian was found inside the fireplace at the residence.

On 09DEC15 the jury found his self defense story credible and only found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter in Tom's murder, and guilty of 2nd degree assault in Marty's case.

On the day of the verdict Heath's attorney Margret Mead in a article in the Baltimore Sun said the following-

Nicholas Heath
" Heath feared Malenski and the other employee were going to attack him, so he swung his knife to ward them off. He used a curved knife that's designed to wound, but not kill"

During my victims impact statement after identifying myself as a retired Maryland police officer and being an edged weapons instructor, I wanted to comment on Mead's statement but not anger the judge.  To get my point across to the judge I simply said "During an interview with the Baltimore Sun, Ms Mead stated that the knife her client used was designed to wound, but not kill.  Now we know that is obviously not the case."

I believe that a much bigger point should have been made out of the knife used, a Spyderco Civilian.  A quote from Spyderco's website states the following. 

 "Because of its distinctly specialized features it is not intended or designed for general utility or everyday use"

Everyone familiar with the edged weapon community knows that the Civilian was designed as a deadly force option for DEA agents who while working undercover could not carry a firearm. 

During both the trial and at sentencing Heath's attorney made reference to him being trained in martial arts, most specifically Brazilian Ju Jitsu.  These facts combined with the fact that he had previously been charged with the carrying of a handgun, lead me to believe that he picked out and carried that knife specifically due to its design and intended purpose.

During sentencing it was quite apparent that Judge John Howard, who also presided over the trial, believed that the jury had dropped the ball with their verdict and was going to do whatever he could do to hand out some justice.  Showing his dedication to justice, the judge spoke about going to the Ottobar and crime scene the night before the sentencing to experience it for himself.

Judge Howard had a lot to say during is the sentencing (read the full story here).  To me the highlights of which were that Heath instead of going to his vehicle, chose to walk towards Tom and Marty.  Thus showing his intent for a confrontation to occur.  Also the Judge said he did not understand while someone with a Brazilian Ju Jitus background would be so quick to use a knife to "protect themselves".

Judge Howard sentenced Heath to the longest possible sentence afforded to him by the State of Maryland, 10 years for Tom's murder and 10 years for the assault on Marty to run consecutively.  Due to his convictions Maryland State Parole and Probation will also be adding some time for his to serve at the end of those sentences.

Takeaways from an MCS standpoint-  Marty and Tom's standpoint- a man carrying his jacket folded over his arm could be a possible pre-assault indicator depending on the circumstances.  Both of these guys had grown up rough in the streets and punk scene in Baltimore even before becoming bouncers.  They were in no shape or form strangers to violence.  You need to stay aware and get your hands above your waist if anyone comes into contact distance with you.  As evidenced at least by Marty, confirming what we teach, you will not see the blade before it cuts/stabs you.  If your training predicated on seeing the blade it could cost you your life.  Also confirming what we teach is that the most probable first attack will be an Angle #1 slash.  Train for all the fancy stuff after you are able to defend against this in the most disadvantaged positions.

From Heath's standpoint- even if there is perceived wrong doing, once the "threat" to you is gone, if you press a confrontation, especially by bypassing your out, you will be held accountable.  Whether self admitted or found during electronic discovery, your training can be called into question in court.  If you are going to train, be sure that it it recent, relevant, and REALISTIC.

Tom's cold blooded murder and Marty's vicious assault have proven to me that here at MCS we are on the right track when it comes to training for the reality of a deadly confrontation.

All MCS training is dedicated to the memory of my Brother Tom, and healing both physically and mentally of my Brother Marty.

To all my Brother and Sister bouncers out there, stay alert/stay alive, and God Bless.- George