WSF Students,

I'm sure that many of you are enjoying our stick-fighting drills and the great fitness workout you can get from doing them. However, I would like to point out to you that the footwork, turns, and strikes you are learning can be applied to almost anything that is shaped like a stick--such as a knife, or in this case, a sword--for SELF-DEFENSE and HOME DEFENSE.

If you're like me, you appreciate the beauty of a quality-made Japanese katana hung on a wall for decoration. However, it's important to understand that it also makes for a great home defense weapon. In our home defense training, one of the things we teach people is to have objects in every room throughout the house that they can use as a last line of self-defense--just in case they can't escape and call the police right away. This could be kitchen knives, scissors, sticks, or a decorative sword (if you're like me, it wouldn't be a decorative sword, but one made to combat specifications--although a decorative one is just as dangerous if used properly). The idea is to always have something within reach, no matter where you are in the house. Even if you own a gun, you can find yourself surprised by an intruder at a moment when you're not near your gun. For example, when you're in your living room or when you're walking through the house at night to use the bathroom (I don't think many people carry a loaded gun around the house at all times--and some people don't even own a gun).

Before I get to the example of an improvised weapon being used in home defense, here's some important things I want you to think about concerning firearms:

If you do own a gun, are you really trained to use it effectively? Now put the friggin' ego aside and be HONEST with yourself! We're dealing with people's lives for God sake! Personally, I've been in and around the military and law enforcement communities for long enough to know that there is a lot of ego involved for many of the soldiers and officers--and it's no different for many CIVILIAN gun owners. Something about the power and lethality of guns just turns on the ego for many people--and it often seems that nobody who handles guns wants to be thought of as anything less than an expert in the use of firearms.

Now let me diverge a bit and make an example of ego... Many military folks call themselves tactical "operators" nowadays. But let's be very clear--they AREN'T. Highly trained soldiers like Special Forces (Green Berets) are not operators, SEALs are not operators, Marines are not operators, and Rangers are not operators--neither are all the other people who call themselves operators. Heck, it's likely that real operators don't call themselves operators. But the term sounds pretty dang cool and it carries a connotation of being "elite" or special somehow--particularly when it comes to the use of deadly weapons like guns--so many folks have adopted the term as their own. But what this really goes to show is that ego tends to get the best of people--and these kinds of folks can be very dangerous to themselves and those around them in certain situations--particularly situations where firearms are involved. At any rate, this is a big part of ego--wanting soooo much to be or be identified as someone special that all common sense goes out the window.

Many people in America own guns--and they are proud to do so. And to be completely honest, I think it's a good thing to have that option. However, I would wager my life savings that most people who own guns are just satisfying their own ego. I would also bet that they are not trained and practiced enough in the safe handling, marksmanship (particularly tactical marskmanship that involves shooting and moving), and tactics that will make them effective in defending themselves--let alone a house full of people--with a gun. Heck, even the majority of "elite" military and law enforcement officers that I've seen in training can't hit what they are trying to shoot when they are under even the slightest amount of stress and only shooting training bullets! Add movement and real bullets into the equation and it's an ugly picture. Most people are not taking into account the fact that once that trigger is squeezed and a round pops off, there is no taking the bullet back. Bullets will easily pass through the walls in most homes--catch my drift? When you start launching bullets, you had better be able to fire accurately and put those bullets EXACTLY where you want them to go. Otherwise, you're going to miss a home invader and send rounds into grandma, the neighbor, or your child in the next room.

I'd like you all to watch the following video from the takedown at the Jewish supermarket standoff following the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris. What I want you all to take note of is a couple of examples that demonstrate how poorly executed and dangerous to innocent hostages (and the officers themselves) this takedown was. First of all, as these officers pile together outside the doors of the supermarket, they are all bunched together into a gaggle. An explosive device or even a burst of bullets from the bad guy could have killed a lot of the officers all at once. This tells you right off the bat that this is not a very highly trained group of officers in terms of tactics.

Now...what I REALLY want all of you to take note of is how wildly these officers are firing their guns into the supermarket--slow the video down if you have to. These are not well aimed shots--the officers are stressed out, frightened, pumped up on stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, and they are squeezing off rounds as fast as they can without even taking aim. This tends to happen with folks who don't have a lot of training and experience. The first officer who entered the supermarket even crossed to the right in front of another officer who was firing wildly--he was nearly shot in the back of the head. During this sloppy takedown, several people, including two police officers, were wounded--and I would be willing to bet that the officers themselves (not the bad guy) caused some, if not all of those wounds (although the French police would surely never admit to this). Thank God there weren't more casualties--it's a miracle there wasn't because bullets were flying all over the place!

Now that you've seen that, I hope you will take the time to think about bullets flying around inside your own house--especially if you have a family. If you do own a gun, you had better train with it A LOT. And your training had better include shooting while on the move and under stress. In addition, you had better learn basic tactics (such as the ones in this manual put together by our friends at Special Tactics: and rehearse senarios in your own home. At a minimum, you should have a plan to put your family in a safe area, out of the line of fire, before setting up in a defensive firing position from where you can take well-aimed, accurate shots at the invader.

Improvised weapons for home defense...

In addition to a gun and a well thought out security plan, you should have other improvised weapons in the house. As I mentioned before, there should be objects in all rooms. Examples would include a pair of long scissors in the bathroom, knives well positioned in the kitchen, a sword hanging over the living room fireplace or in the bedroom, a sturdy stick in the closet, etc. We typically recommend sticks, not blades, for people with kids. Kids tend to want to pick up weapons like guns and blades--so many parents don't want them around. Personally, if I have a young child in the house, I don't want a loaded gun anywhere within reach, and I would be very cautious with knives, as well.

That being said, if you're learning our stick-fighting art, in addition to keeping yourself in shape, you're also learning some basic strikes and footwork that can be applied to any "stick-like" object. If you pick up a stick or a sword like a katana, you will be able to perform a strong and accurate thrust to the face, throat, base of the sternum (a very deadly strike), or groin that you have been practicing from the "Level 1" drills alone. You will also be able to deliver left and right diagonal strikes to an attacker's head/neck/collarbone area. You'll also know basic turns and strikes. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. As you continue training with the subsequent levels we'll be adding in the future (Level 2 is already up), you'll learn faster and more efficient ways to turn and deliver strike combinations--and we'll be adding more targets on the attacker's body--such as knees and shins. You'll also learn how to deal more effectively with multiple attackers, and we'll teach you to develop lighting speed and massive striking power. Once again, we are teaching techniques and tactics that can be done with a stick or an edged weapon. And many, many objects out there are shaped like sticks. For example, a sturdy umbrella that you carry with you on the subway could turn into a self-defense weapon if you've been learning our skills.

At any rate, I hope at least a few of you can see the light (not just the lightsaber). Please take a look at the following videos that show what a man did to several home invaders with his decorative Samurai katana. While you're watching, keep in mind that this guy didn't have any of the training that you're getting with us. He was untrained. Imagine what a trained person could do in defense of their home and their family.

Story of the home defense:

The aftermath:

Be Safe!

Kindest Regards,