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  • Writer's pictureJackie Bradbury

Real Life Lessons: Against Long Weapons

This video was posted over on Facebook by Caleb Bonham:

It depicts a man attacking various random people in a relatively crowded area in downtown Denver, CO.  It makes the rounds in martial arts circles as well as other groups from time to time.

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.

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 think that people just didn't register what was happening until it's way too late, and it's an object lesson in paying a little more attention to what you see around you when you're out and about. This situation was about as obvious as it gets - there is a man running around with no shirt and a long piece of wood or pipe and that's not normal.


I would not advocate that untrained people do this, obviously, because it takes training to do it safely.  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, and practicing the timing it takes to put yourself in a safer position.

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 you move in, smack the guy, then move past him and out of range again as you go to safety, you might do a little better than most of the folks you see in the video.

If you don't train this (or other options like I do), you're really doing yourself a disservice. Long weapons can and do appear in the real world, y'all.


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!

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