Friday, July 28, 2017

Advice for Self-Defense in Europe

Hello Ferfal.
I have read your "surviving the economic collapse" book and it was very interesting.
Now I want to learn self defense.
I'm from Austria / Vienna.
The problem is, almost all self defense schools I found in Vienna... they dont do sparring at all.
Our culture here in Austria is very pussyfied these days, and in sparring people could get hurt (LOL) so they dont do that.....
So what would you recommend me to do ? I dont think (like you wrote) that it makes sense to take some classes without sparring.
Also our gun laws are very restricted, you are allowed to own a gun but you are not allowed to have it with you when you are out.
Dont really know what to do at this point, and would like to hear your advice ?

BR & thanks in advance, Martin.

Hello Martin,
Thanks for your email.

I believe many people have your same questions, in different European countries but also towns in USA where finding a good martial arts/ self-defense school isn’t always easy.

For unarmed self-defense you want to include striking and grappling tools to your tool box. Boxing in simply the most refined form of hand striking. Yes, today evolved into an Olympic sport but make no mistake: In a street fight a good boxer will make short work of most opponents. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a fantastic martial art which gives you precious grappling skills, especially when the fight goes to the floor as it often does, this is why its practically mandatory for mix martial artists to be proficient grapplers and know how to counter them. But don’t mistake MMA with street fights. In a street fight there will be other people around you, there will be objects, there may be weapons and they rarely are one on one. Time and again it’s been proven that an effective 1,2 can put an opponent down before the fight even starts in his mind. This is why boxing is so valuable in a street fight, especially against multiple opponents. An example:

The last clip (black & white security camera) involves a professional boxer. The first man he KO died after hitting his head during the fall.

Boxing is a fairly common sport and even in friendly neighbourhood gyms they are likely to spar. Now you don’t need to become a professional boxer, not for self-defense purposes. Also remember that boxing is one of the most damaging contact sports to the brain. Even if you use sparring headgear and gloves and don’t mind getting punched in the head, it does cumulative damage to your brain. Train a lot, do “gloves” with light contact here and there and only sporadically spar a round or two. That will be enough to keep your hands and reflexes fast, know what its like when someone wants to KO you, yet avoid most of the downside of boxing. BJJ is even better for sparring given that it works around submission and you can practice, spar and compete without nearly the amount of risk of injury involved in boxing.

I understand that time and money are limited and we can’t do it all. Ideally you would find a mix martial arts gym where you have the opportunity to train and spar in various disciplines. At the very least there’s sure to be a Box or BJJ class around town.

In some cases Krav maga seems to be almost ideal given that it borrows from different martial arts applying it to defense. The problem I’ve seen with many KM schools is that a) they are either too commercial, very expensive and installing a sense of proficiency and skill that isnt actually there b) they don’t spar against a non-cooperative opponent. Meaning your first REAL fight will be a life and death one on the streets (and you’ll probably lose it) That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show up to a local KM school in town if available and see what they are about.

You will be better served joining a MMA, Box or BJJ school and then taking some self-defense seminars to compliment them. Sometimes you get to meet like-minded people in these classes and get together for more training.
For this kind of realistic fighting, Dog Brothers do gatherings in different European countries
Something similar happens with firearms.

Instead of worrying too much about what you can’t do, do the things you can.
Get a Glock and a rifle and learn how to shoot them well. Yes, a defensive shootings class is needed and it can be a bit harder to come across in some countries but if you get involved in the local shooting club you’re likely to come across instructors, some of the ones involved in local law enforcement or military. Just like with martial arts, you can complement what you learn in defensive shooting classes with practice from sports shooting like IPSC so as to maintain hand-eye coordination, shoot fast and accurately.

It sounds overwhelming but it really shouldn’t be. Just take advantage of what you can find locally and make the most of it as time and money allows. Getting a Glock though and learning how to run it would be top of the list for me.  Even if you cant carry it, at least you’ll have it and know how to operate it proficiently.Different countries in Europe have different laws, but if legal to do so I’d look into carrying a folder and OC spray.

Fortunately violent crime all across Europe is noticeably low. Chances of being a victim of a violent crime aren’t that high, and should be reduced even more by practicing some common sense things such as avoiding dangerous places and getting involved with the wrong people.
Good luck!
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

"Girl with a gun" scares Off Intruder: 5 Lessons Learned

An idea for a blog post.  Teen girl in Spokane WA scares off intruder with pistol.  Much good about this.   But not sure I'd want to show off the pistol and my entire home though.
Thx for all your work over the years.  I appreciate it.
Hi Nathan,
Thanks for the link. Yes, loose lips sink ships and all. Shouldnt show around their place as much.
I love reading good news like this. I’ll be explaining a few points I believe are important and we can all learn from, but the fact is this girl was saved because she had a gun and that’s what matters the most.
The most important lesson being: When facing violent people, guns save lives. The most likely outcome is similar to this story, where both the potential victim and even the aggressor walk unharmed. When these things happen no one takes notice. There were no shots fired, there’s no corpse to be bothered with and no one will do a movie about it, but none the less it’s the most common outcome when good people use guns and it’s the best outcome in which no one gets hurt.
Now some folks will argue that the best outcome is a dead bad guy in this girl’s room. We’ll just have to agree to disagree on that one. Most people, especially teens, don’t want to carry that with them the rest of their lives. Even if you are somewhat less sensitive regarding these matters, trust me they simply are not worth the time and money involved with the legal matters. Most tough guys will start crying the moment their lawyer hands them their legal expenses bill. If it can be prevented, better spend that money on some nice family holydays.
Now, even though this story no doubt had a happy ending, there are things that could have gone a lot worse very easily. Let’s go through some of the things done well, and what could have been done better:

1) The girl was armed. Above all, having a gun is what makes it or breaks it in these situations. She was armed, and that makes all the difference in the world.

2)The gun was within quick and easy reach. Had the gun been next to her bed with a combination lock of some kind, she may have not had enough time to use it. This is a key part of armed self defense.

3)Poor weapon choice. A 22 LR revolver is not a good option. Now in this case it served her well. Keep in mind even a replica gun would have done the same thing. You can “scare” an intruder with a replica or blank firing replica. You can scare someone with a Derringer, or with a gun that isn’t even loaded or operational. That does not mean you should overlook the possibility of the gun actually being used. For revolvers a 38 special would be my recommended minimum. For autos 9mm, both with premium ammo.

4)Training. I just can repeat this enough. Get proper, professional firearms training. It will teach you how to use the gun, how to keep it, and what gun to use. Never in my life have I seen a defensive shooting class were a student was using a 22LR.
Training is what gets you through the fight when the bad guy ISNT scared as easily and you actually have to shoot. Training is what keeps you alive when there’s no bad guy around, by preventing you from doing things such as keeping your loaded gun under your pillow. Save money by taking a class with a qualified instructor. Trust me it’s the best money you’ll ever spend on self-defense.

5)Home security. Even better than having to chase away a home invader is not having him in your teen’s bedroom in the first place. Doors, windows, they should be kept locked. “what about hot climate?” Well, find a solution. I’ve always liked to have bars on my windows. I like them, I like knowing no one will crawl through the window. If done well and the bar has a nice design and goes along with the house style they don’t look bad either. And it allows you to leave windows opened safely. Some shutter designs also allow good ventilation while keeping the shutter closed.  If nothing else, know that leaving windows opened or cracked with no barrier of any kind means anyone can just crawl into your kid’s bedroom.

Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Glock 19 vs the 17 for prepping

Hi Fernando, I know you're a huge fan of the Glock 17 for prepping and even EDC but I would like to make a counter argument that the Glock 19 has an advantage over it's larger brother for prepping. While the 17 is a solid gun, it can only ever accept magazines made for the 17 while the 19 can accept both the 19s and 17s magazines. So if you buy a 19 you've essentially doubled the possible available magazines you can buy or find for your gun and all it cost you was a bit of barrel length and a bit off the bottom. So if you're CCWing a 19 you can have a 15rnd magazine in it to reduce your printing while having an extra glock 17 mag on your belt or in your bag.
I like the Glock 19 very much. As you say the size is about perfect, especially for smaller frame people. The grip is basically the same thickness as the Glock 17, only shorter, so I don’t feel it gives any particular advantage to people with smaller hands. But being smaller, lighter, there’s less gun to swing around for smaller people and its also easier to conceal.

I will say though that I like having a bit more grip real estate as in the Glock 17 and I at least don’t feel that the Glock 17 is all that harder to conceal. Again, for smaller frame people or people that dress a certain way, maybe tighter fitting clothes, the advantage in concealment may be worth it.

I also find that having less barrel length gives me a shorter distance between sights. I group better when precision shooting with the Glock 17. The longer barrel also gives you a bit more velocity and power and of course, you have two more rounds in the Glock 17 vs the Glock 19. Sure you can use Glock 17 mags in the Glock 19, but it defeats the purpose of having the smaller gun in the first place.
I feel all of this doesn’t compensate the rather small tactical advantage of being able to use both G17 and G19 mags, especially considering that the Glock 17 is the most prolific gun of the two.

Either way, both are excellent guns and if a given person feels the Glock 19 is better for them then I’m perfectly fine with that. You can’t go wrong with the Glock 17 or its slightly smaller version.

Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Glock 17: The Best gun for Preppers and Survivalists

Monday, July 17, 2017

Putting together a Survival Fitted Case Kit

I’ve known about these commercial survival “kits” for several years now, actually since the first ones came out with the prepper movement gaining attention around 2012.
Its usually a Pelican type case or PVC tube. It includes a gun of course and some other survival related gear like a compass, whistle, emergency blanket or flashlight or even some MRE (meal ready to eat)
Now I know that far more convenient is to have an actual backpack that is lighter and easier to carry, and put your gear in there. This makes for more practical bug out bags, EDC bags, or get home bags to keep in the vehicle. Something that can actually be carried somewhat comfortably.
Still I like the idea of a kit with fitted gear in a tough impact resistant or even waterproof case.
I think they look pretty neat. They also remind me a lot of those old fitted gun cases, with tools, a bottle of cleaning oil and other trinkets.  I see these as more modern rendition of those great classic cases to some extent.
So, one day looking online I came across a nice deal on a surplus Explorer case. I made and offer and lucky me I ended up winning it. Now this is what I have to work with:

I’m thinking adding a few mags, maybe a cleaning kit and a knife or multitool. I’ll update you once I put it together.
Or maybe a shotgun kit:

At this point I’m just looking for ideas. In fact if you have any pics, comments, links of pics you just happen to like or suggestions of possible content to include in the kit leave it in the comments below or send me an email.
What handgun or long arm would you chose for a kit like this? What gear would you put in it?
Its a fun little project which you may try out yourselves.
Here are a few commercial models to get you brainstorming:
Stag Arms Executive Survival kit

Smith & Wesson

Steyr AUG survival kit

Taurus First 24 Survival Kit
Mossberg JIC (just in case) Shotgun Kit

The Mossberg version is probably the cheapest. Just a PVC tube, end caps and glue.
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”

Friday, July 14, 2017

Reply: Some thoughts about push daggers

Regarding push daggers, as cute as they are there are potential complications that can come up before someone might use one in self-defense, and they are certain to come after they have used it.
The first point is that I suspect they are illegal to carry in most jurisdictions.  While in some places in the U. S. the law might allow a person who has a concealed weapon permit to also carry and potentially use such a knife in self-defense, in most places the CCW only pertains to a handgun.  Other laws govern knives.
“Ah”, you say, “but what if you carry the push dagger openly?”  First, it is hard to carry it in any way that it is not concealed at least partially or at times, depending on how it is carried, what clothing is worn, etc.  Second, there are laws on the books in some jurisdictions that allow law enforcement officers to arrest people who openly carry a knife—in at least one jurisdiction the display of a pocket clip is enough to get a person arrested.
As you know, there is a patchwork of laws in place across the U. S. and across various countries.  In one jurisdiction where the law is written to allow knives to be carried that are not “designed and intended” to be used as weapons, that “design” and “intent” comes down to interpretation by law enforcement and the courts.*  Under those rules, it is probably illegal to carry a push dagger since it is designed and intended to be used as a weapon and cannot be justified as a tool intended for some other use or general utility.
Then, if someone actually uses a push dagger in otherwise legitimate self-defense, they are likely to be charged criminally for carrying an illegal concealed weapon, with any damage they might do to an aggressor to also be adjudicated according the local laws and preferences of law enforcement and prosecutors.**
The bottom line is that maybe the push dagger should be left at home or else only carried by people who are legally authorized to do so because their professions require them to go in harm’s way.
That is true.
Usually when I post about gear I include links to those products in Amazon (I get a small % of it) but in this case there was none to be found.  I looked further and could not find a single push knife/dagger in Amazon.
That alone goes to show the problematic laws and bans they face in many States.
Yet again, you simply have to know the laws that apply you. For knives, guns and self-defense, knowing the law is important.
Having said that, where legal to own and carry I do believe they have the advantages mentioned. Compactness, ease of carry, instinctive use and outstanding retention being the most valuable traits.
No affiliation of any kind and I’ve never bought from them, but knifecenter.com does seem to have a wide variety of push knives offered.
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Mittelstand: Made in China vs Made in Germany

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Advantages of the Push Dagger for Self-defense

I was going through my knife collection the other day and came across an oldie but goodie: The Cold Steel Safe Keeper Push Dagger.

In the world of edged weapons you rarely see or read much about push daggers/knives.
It’s usually folders or traditional fixed blades that end up in the spotlight. Nothing wrong with these no doubt but the push dagger does deserve your attention because it certainly has its attributes.
1)Fixed blade
It’s not a folding blade, usually a single piece of steel. This means you have all the rigidity and strength of a fixed blade knife.
2)Ease of carry
Because the handle is perpendicular and not in line with the blade. Push knives can be very compact in spite of blade length. It is fairly easy to carry concealed a four inch blade, let alone smaller 2 or 3 inch ones which are still formidable weapons. The one pictured was carried by me on several occasions in Argentina. I remember how comfortable it was and feeling rather well armed with it.
3)fast deployment
Unlike folding knives there’s no blade to flip or other deployment mechanism. Just grab and pull out ready for use. Neck knife models are particularly well suited for quick access. The Cold Steel Mini Pal can be kept handy in a key chain. Don’t let the small size fool you. That little Min Pal can cut.
4)instinctive use
Because it is held in a balled fist and used in the same manner as punching, the push knife lends itself nicely to not only different martial arts disciplines but also more instinctive punching.

Safe Maker II at ColdSteel.com
5)Almost impossible to disarm
Besides its ease of carry, this has to be one of its most valuable traits: retention. Anyone that ever took a knife fighting class and practiced some CQC with practice knives knows how likely it is for knives to be dropped during a fight. In the case of women or smaller frame people there’s also the risk of being overpowered and disarmed, a position you certainly never want to find yourself in. With a push knife, such a thing is almost impossible. For most models none of the handle is left exposed for grabbing and the only surface protruding is the blade itself, which your attacker certainly doesn’t want to touch.
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Skysaver: Escaping from high-rise buildings

Some people commented regarding my post about escaping a building during a fire with traditional climbing gear and noted that the rope can burn.
Of course this is a possibility. The fire on some of the lower floors may even burn yourself as you rappel down. The point is we’re talking about a desperate, last resort situation here. During the London tower fire some people climbed down using tied bed sheets to make a rope. I’ll take an actual harness and rope over sheets any day.
But I did look into it a bit more and there is a product specifically designed to escape high rise buildings during fires, terrorist attacks or other emergencies.
As strange as it looks, it does seem serious and apparently it works as intended.

On the down side it is very expensive at 800 bucks or more depending on how many feet you need.
On the up side, it requires no rappel knowledge, no particular physical strength or dexterity and allows you to safely jump off the window and safely reach the floor. The cord seems to be steel, which is of course safer and less likely to be destroyed by fire and debris.
Happy 4th of July everyone!
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”