[Street Combat – This Ain’t No Game is a SurvivalBlog exclusive.]
At one time or another, both Ralph (who we called Lo-Lo for some reason that I don’t recall) and Rudy worked for me when I was a supervisor at a detective agency. This story deals with Ralph.
At this point in time, Ralph hadn’t completed his 30-hour training course in order to be an armed security officer in Illinois. So, Ralph was working unarmed at a very remote location. He was supposed to protect an old Commonwealth Edison power plant, but how you protect property without a firearm is beyond me. The plant was scheduled for demolition. In the meantime, the plant was loaded with a huge fortune of copper wire. It was not just your regular copper wire but copper wire as thick as your arm. People were taking saws and axes, using them to cut the wire into smaller pieces, and selling it to scrape metal yards.
As a supervisor, I drove a company car all of the time and was on-call 24 hours a day. I also handled the K-9 units and was always dropping-off or picking-up K-9 units from guards and remote locations where we would place a dog at night and pick them up in the morning, before the places opened for business. At least I usually remembered to get the dog out before they opened for business, but that’s another story for another time.
I decided to place Max with Ralph at his guard site. Max was a huge, purebred German Shepherd, weighing in at over 125lbs. Max hated other dogs, too. You couldn’t place him in the same car with another dog.
Ralph had been having some problems with three guys who kept trying to break into this building he was guarding. The building probably took up a full square city block and was located right along the Chicago River at the end of a deadend street. It was extremely difficult for one man to guard this remote area, so a dog helped.
After Ralph had scared these characters away a few times with the help of Max, I decided to keep Ralph company one night. These three idiots came back that evening with a dog of their own, which was a big mistake! We turned Max loose on their dog, and he went at it. They left with their injured dog, and I should have used the two-way radio in my car to call our dispatcher for the Chicago Police, but I didn’t.
A short time later, these same three idiots returned with a gun and fired several shots at Ralph and me. Unlike Ralph, I was armed with a Smith & Wesson Model 10, .38 Special revolver. I returned fire (over their heads), and they ran off and never did come back. I then decided to report the incident to the police, since you gotta cover your behind when things turn to shooting.
First of all, I think all security officers should be armed. If things are serious enough that a company thinks they need a guard, then it’s serious enough that the guard should be armed! I can’t make it any clearer than that.
Secondly, I should not have placed Ralph in such a remote location without a two-way radio or a firearm. This was stupid on my part, and it could have cost Ralph is life.
Third, the sheer size and location of the old power plant was such that it required several armed guards under contract. There was no way one man could adequately protect a building that large all alone. I had no control over this aspect, but the security company should not have taken the job using only one guard.
Giving Max to Ralph was a good first move; it helped even the odds out a bit against those three morons and their attack dog. Still, things didn’t end there, either.
I was justified in firing my gun in defense of myself and Ralph. I should have fired at these guys instead of over their heads. In retrospect, I was only carrying the ammo that was in the gun– just six rounds. Never, ever, only carry the rounds that are in your firearm! Always carry at least one spare magazine (for an autoloader) and at least one or two spare speedloaders for revolvers. Even loose rounds in your pants or jacket pocket are better than just the rounds in your gun!
The final “technique” used was deadly force! These three leaders of the brain trust clan knew I wasn’t fooling around when I returned fire. They didn’t know that I was firing over their heads. All they knew was that I was firing back at them.
This next case study comes from my good friend, Eugene Sockut, who lives in Israel. Gene’s book, Secrets Of Street Survival – Israeli Style (Paladin Press) is must reading. Street survival is a fact of everyday life in Israel.
An interesting self-defense case recently occurred in Israel that provides a good example of why it is good street smarts to have a non-lethal weapon option on you when carrying a handgun.
Harry Abrams is 62 years old and what one would call a man of small physical stature; he’s 5′ 4″ tall and weighing under 150 pounds. Harry, an accountant, is an easy going sort who is not out on the street looking for trouble. Harry carried a S&W Bodyguard .38 Special with 158 gr. Winchester Lead Hollow Points for use against terrorist attack. It never occurred to Harry that one day he would have to use his handgun against a fellow Israeli.
Harry’s nemesis was one Burt Chameleon. At 27 years of age, Burt is a burly 6′ 2″ and 210 pound construction worker and was given to hard drink. Why Burt hated Harry is known only to Burt. Being Harry’s next door neighbor, one can only surmise that Burt thought the leaves from Harry’s tree blew into his yard. Who really knows the real reasons one dislikes someone? Maybe Burt was jealous of Harry’s new car. Anyway, Burt let it be known on numerous occasions that one day he was going to kick the feces out of Harry.
Lesson #1. TAKE ALL THREATS SERIOUSLY!
One night, Harry walked out to his car and heard swearing behind him. To his utter amazement, it was Burt, who was drunk enough to be angry but not drunk enough to stagger. Burt rushed at Harry with clenched fists, shouting he was going to break Harry’s neck. At this, Harry, got into his subcompact car and rolled the windows up. Burt proceeded to smash in the car’s roof and buckle the door.
Burt’s girlfriend was trying to control him, but this was as good as spitting in the wind, as Burt wasn’t about to be controlled by anyone.
It was out of character for Harry, but something just snapped. Maybe it was the sound of his new car being pounded into junk, but at any rate Harry exploded and jumped out of his car, telling Burt to cease and desist or he would pull his handgun. At this, Burt shouted that he was going to batter Harry worse than he did his car. Breaking away from his hysterical girlfriend, Burt made for Harry, daring him to shoot.
Harry pulled his S&W and shouted for Burt to stop. Now from here, all goes into utter confusion. Burt claims he hit Harry’s hand and the revolver fired. Harry, being even more confused, told the police that he pulled the trigger. At any rate, Burt got a single bullet that plowed into his guts, and he went down for the count. An artery was cut, and blood was flowing.
Fortunately, the paramedics came, and Burt went to the hospital on the brink of death. Lucky for him (and Harry), Burt survived.
The prosecutor, being of an anti-gun sort, decided to make a test case out of all this and asked for attempted murder charges against Harry and not Burt. In these parts, this means a sentence of 20 years. After a time, this charge was dropped to aggravated assault with attempt at severe bodily harm, which meant seven years. Then, after a plea bargain, it would be reduced to two years.
Harry’s lawyer knew the system and told Harry that it would be a waste of money if it went to trail, since the sentence would be the same as if he plea bargained anyway, and the lawyer would rather argue the case for mercy (for Harry) in front of a more friendly judge, especially since the only witness was Burt’s girlfriend, who wasn’t exactly a friendly witness for Harry.
The lawyer said the doctrine of disparity of force meant that Harry’s size (compared to Burt’s) would not wash in an Israeli court, since after the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin, guns were more feared than ever by certain politicians. (That sounds a lot like American politicians, doesn’t it?) There is no Second Amendment Right in Israel.
Harry’s lawyer was right. In a closed hearing, the judge handed down a sentence to Harry of six months public service and one year probation.
Harry is now learning to defend himself with a walking stick and wishes he had that option the night Burt attacked him. The prosecutor admitted that even if Harry picked up a rock and brained Burt, it would never had been prosecuted. However, a GUN? No way, Jose!
Lesson #2. A non-lethal response (option) is important in certain circles (read Liberal), as firearms are viewed as “atomic weapons” not suited for conventional warfare.
Burt is now back at home and was never even charged with assault. Burt plans to sue Harry. (Again, this sounds like America, doesn’t it?) Burt originally asked for one million dollars, but now has compromised and only wants one hundred thousands dollars from Harry.
Harry changed neighborhoods and has lost his job. The only good thing to come out of this is that Burt has as much chance of getting paid by Harry as a snowball in hell. Court and lawyer costs have cleaned out Harry’s bank account.
First of all, I want to thank Gene Sockut for sending me this story. This can happen to anyone at any time! Neighbor disputes account for a large percentage of police emergency calls. I know; I used to be a cop.
Harry’s technique could have been improved upon. First of all, Harry should have notified the local police that he was having a problem with Burt and that Burt had threatened him. This might have gotten Harry off the hook when it came down to the attack Burt launched against Harry.
Harry could have driven away (in his battered car) and reported the incident to the police. Instead, Harry placed himself in jeopardy by getting out of his car and confronting Burt. I can certainly understand Harry taking the action he did. It was a new car, and Harry was fed-up with Burt’s threats and his attack.
Faced with disparity of force, Harry was right in firing at Burt (if that’s what actually took place). Remember, the details got a bit fuzzy, and both Burt and Harry had different stories to tell about the shooting.
All things considered, Harry lived to tell his tale, and that’s the bottom line.
I want to list one more case study before closing this section, and I think it applies today as well as it did back in 1983, when it happened.
My wife and I had the misfortune of moving to Chicago, IL in 1982. While I was born and raised there, if I never had to see a big city again it wouldn’t hurt my feels. I prefer country life these days.
I was the Investigations Manager for a very large Detective Agency in those days, and I was on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So, I always carried my gun with me. In those days, I usually carried a S&W Model 586 with a 4″ Bbl. This is a rather large .357 Magnum revolver, to be sure.
We were traveling north bound on North Lake Shore Drive. We were in a moderate flow of traffic doing about 45-50 mph when out of nowhere a car rear-ended us. Now keep in mind that we were moving with the flow of traffic; we weren’t coming to a stop or anything like that.
I signaled for the driver of the other car to pull off the traffic lanes and onto the shoulder. He nodded his head in compliance. I had my S&W 586 on my right hip, with my badge attached to my belt– right where anyone could see it. When I got out of the car, I swept my jacket back, revealing the gun and badge. Needless to say, the fellow who bumped us took notice.
Never, ever assume that someone hit you by accident. There are gangs as well as individuals out there who do nothing more than bump other vehicles, and then when they pull over they’re robbed.
I could tell that the above character had other things on his mind by the stupid grin on his face after he bumped us. I, on the other hand, had other plans for him. If you are bumped from behind by another vehicle, never assume it was an accident.
If you have a cell phone, call 911 and wait for the police to arrive BEFORE getting out of your vehicle. Make sure you drive with your doors locked, too. If you don’t have a cell phone, then drive to a gas station. Then, in front of other people, get out of your car and talk to the other driver.
Whatever you do, don’t pull over to the side of the road and get robbed, raped, or murdered. The damage to your car can always be repaired. The physical and emotional damage that you receive may never heal.
The mere presence of a gun put to flight any thoughts this idiot might have had about robbing us that day. I could tell he was surprised to see an armed man get out of the car.
I informed him that I was a private investigator, and I was working a case. This guy couldn’t wait to right me a check (on the spot) for the damage to my rear bumper. I informed him that if the check bounced, I would track him down ASAP. The check cleared his bank.
A few comments about knives and knife fighting are in order before closing this chapter. For personal reasons, I’ve chosen to list only a few incidents that I was involved in. I have witnessed several other people in knife fights over the years. The fights are usually over pretty quick. As mentioned, the sight of your own blood has some kind of psychological effect on you. You really don’t want to see any more of your own blood.
There are numerous martial arts schools out there who teach knife fighting skills. First of all, I question their own training and more importantly experiences as a knife fighter.
I’ve also seen a lot of books and videos out there on the subject of knife fighting. I’m often amazed at the thickness of some books on the subject. It would take several life times to master the techniques they present.
In the next chapter, I outline handgun training for Close Quarters Combat shooting– CBQ. Much of what I present is based on techniques presented by a good friend, the late Col. Rex Applegate. His system is based on real-life combat shooting, not some gun guru’s idea of combat.
I could devote a chapter to knife fighting with a folding knife, but I’d only be repeating some of the techniques outlined in Col. Applegate’s book, Combat Use Of The Double-Edged Fighting Knife, (Paladin Press). While the book is devoted to the use of a double-edged fighting knife, most of the techniques described can be applied to the use of a single-edged folding knife.
A few words about pocket-type knives for self-defense. I think lock-back folding knives are a real improvement over non-locking blades. While most of what I teach my students about knife fighting is based upon Applegate’s techniques, I do teach a little bit about reverse-grip knife fighting. If you hold most lock-back folding knives this way, you can every easily apply pressure to the locking mechanism and the blade will fold on your fingers.
I prefer the liner-lock system on folding knives; they are much, much stronger than lock-back styles. Col. Applegate joined forces with Gerber Legendary Blades (P.O. Box 23088, Portland, OR 97223, 503-639-6161) to produce one of the strongest production, liner-lock folding knives I’ve ever seen. These knives are the Applegate Combat Folder, and the Applegate-Fairbairn Covert Folder, which is just a smaller version of the Combat model.
Without a doubt, the strongest liner lock folding knife that I have seen is produced by custom knife maker Chris Reeve (11624 W. President Dr., #B, Boise, Idaho 83713, 208-375-0367). Chris is producing two models called the Sebenza Integral Lock. This is basically a liner-lock, but the entire side of one handle is the locking mechanism.
Custom knifemaker Ernest Emerson (Emerson Knives, Inc., P.O. Box 4325, Redondo Beach, CA 90278, 310-542-3050) also makes a very, very stout line of folding fighters with a strong liner-lock system. I have adopted his Raven line of knives as the official knife for my martial arts students.
You can’t go wrong if you lay claim to one of the above listed knives for self-defense purposes. With that said, I’ll close this chapter.
Remember, this is Street Combat – This Ain’t No Game!