Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Weapons in Real Life: Confronted with a Long Blunt Weapon

This video was posted by Caleb Bonham over on Facebook:

It depicts a man attacking various random people in a relatively crowded area in downtown Denver, CO.  It's been making the rounds in martial arts circles as well as other groups.

It is a great example of why training in the martial arts - both unarmed and with and against weapons - is a great idea.  Note that several people are hit and injured and nobody here knows how to deal with it.

The attacker is obviously mentally ill, and this is an incredibly dangerous situation.  It's hard to predict what violent mentally ill people will do.

Here's my observations:


I was struck, at first, by how many of the people around this obviously dangerous man didn't react until he got relatively close to them.  Several people here walk directly into him, or they stand still and stare - which gives the man a bunch of targets to choose from!

This is self defense 101 - be aware of your surroundings, and get out of an area where something bad is happening.

The man at the lower right walks directly towards the man with the weapon!

So, if you see a situation like this - leave.  Turn around and leave.

Alternately, this is a busy public street with lots of open businesses. I was thinking that several of these people could have sheltered inside one of these businesses.

Either way - people either stop and stare or walk as if nothing is happening at all, and that's incredibly dangerous.  This video is only a minute long, and I'm surprised more of the people approaching the obviously dangerous man or just standing there weren't hurt.


I would not advocate that untrained people do this, obviously.  But one reason to train vs. long weapons - four to six feet long - is to understand the range in which they can do the most damage, versus where you're safer.

Every person struck here moves backwards to avoid getting hit - and they fail to move fast enough or far enough, and they get hit.  Not only do they get hit, but they get hit with fastest moving part of the weapon - the absolute worst part to get hit with.

If I had been in this situation and he were coming for me (and it was too late for me to vacate the area - such as someone stepping out of one of the businesses on the street not having seen what was happening inside), I'd have moved in and attack the man directly.  My hope would be to attack his face to distract him enough to be able to get the weapon out of his hands and away from him.

I also train in weapons - short and long - and I also know how to disarm.  I would have tried something like this:

This is a "policing technique" that works against a variety of straight blunt weapons - like the one the dude has in the video.  The advantage with this technique is that it's pretty quick and doesn't rely on brute strength to make it work.


The man is wielding an improvised weapon.  Some observers suggest that situations like this prove the need to carry a firearm.  I wouldn't disagree with this, but... it's not really necessary here.

There are other tools in the environment to help the folks here defend themselves.

For example - see below:

I see four people - not including the attacker or the man in the white tank top getting attacked - with something to help them defend themselves or the white tank top man.

I'm talking about their backpacks.

Those backpacks could have been used as a shield against the incoming strikes.

This is something we train pretty early in our school - and we also teach in self defense classes.  We use what we call "Dos Manos" (two hands) techniques.  

Here's an example of it with a stick:

This is a pretty easy technique to do with backpacks and gear bags.  Once you block the incoming attack, closing in with the backpack to strike the attacker in a counter-attack absolutely works and may have helped get the man disarmed.

So that's my three observations - clear the area, close in versus long weapons, and use tools in the environment to defend against weapons.

So what lessons did you learn from the video?  What else could the people surrounding the attacker had done?  Let us know in the comments!