Book Review: Red Zone Knife Defense

Coach Jerry Wetzel of Red Zone Threat Management just released a book outlining his excellent unarmed knife defense program. It is 185 pages of rock solid, testable, and easy to implement blade (and blunt weapons) defense. With this book, a willing training partner, a training blade, and a place to train, you could get functional at shutting down a real knife attack and die less often.

The first chapters are a great framing of what a knife defense program needs to look like. The author discusses traditional knife defense programs and outlines the problems with their training modality. The major issue with most is a lack of ‘aliveness’. The highly orchestrated attack lines and total lack of aggressive forward drive one sees in most knife defense programs doesn’t line up with reality. He also points out that you’re not likely to run into a trained knife fighter, but rather someone with a pointy implement and the desire to put it into you as fast and as much as possible. If your knife defense doesn’t take this into account, you need to look into another method.

The author systematically points out the flaws in logic that several knife programs seem to ignore. After you read the early chapters, you’ll be shaking your head at the time you wasted pursuing these other programs. Live and learn.

The Real Secret is that the answer lies in consistent training and understanding what we’re training for.

How Knife Attacks Tend To Look:

Example of highly choreographed knife work:

The Redzone Method:

The best thing about the RZKD program is that it can be trained at full speed, and that the feeder (knife guy) can give a genuine effort to stab you, and you have a reasonable chance to shut it down.

Real attacks have aggressive pressure, multiple rapid attack lines, you may not realize the knife is in play until you’re stabbed, and your empty hand skills will come in real handy when dealing with this problem (so get some), both parties fixate on the blade, it could be really bloody, mostly stabs and NOT slashes, mostly to the torso, and you might have to overcome some of your instincts to be successful.

Coach Wetzel stresses that we might indeed get cut, maybe even badly, but we need to continue fighting until the lights go out, because quitting is not an option.

The Red Zone Knife program blends seamlessly with the other modules that they teach. Commonality of techniques across disciplines, emphasis on cultivating awareness and space management, non-diagnostic defensive postures, and principle based self-defense is the best thing going, in my opinion. Dominating Posture, Pressure, and Position is the key to digging yourself out of the hole.

The author addresses several scenarios in which we might find ourselves:

  • Outright ambush, this is worst case
  • Posturing with a blade, intimidation
  • You’re in a fist fight, then a blade comes out
  • You see the knife in hand at a distance as the attacker crashes in.
  • Grounded against a knife

Luckily for us, the way to deal with these issues follows a very streamlined decision tree, with a common road map to follow.

Step One: RUN… but if you can’t….

Step Two: Control the Weapon Bearing Limb (strategy depends on range). And monitoring for a hand switch.

Step Three:Two-on-One to the ground if the attacker presses in, or the Lasso if he retracts the weapon bearing limb.

Step Four: Weapon disarms. Luckily there’s only two you need.

It’s as simple as this (but it’s not always easy). The author also covers a few less common circumstances to try out including fouling a draw, working against a wall, the ‘hostage’ type scenario, and grounded situations.

I’ve trained in several seminar style classes that included RZKD methods, and I am super excited that this book is out to have a book to work from for my training group. I think you’ll really like.

Highly Recommended.

Mark

Red Zone Knife Defense:



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Fasting for Weight Loss and Health – My Experiences

Disclaimer: I'm not a medical professional. I'm only an interested lay-person with a lot of time spent reading. You should do the same, and consult a doctor. Also drink more water and call your mom.

“Everyone has a physician inside him or her; we just have to help it in its work.  The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.  Our food should be our medicine.  Our medicine should be our food.  But to eat when you are sick is to feed your sickness.”
                                               – Hippocrates

I recently ended a 5 day fast, and I received several requests to outline my thoughts and experiences on fasting for weight management as well as for health. This isn’t a tactical topic, but if our ultimate goal is to protect and preserve our lives, then we have to consider health and body composition as a topic in our self-defense plan. I’ll try to keep this post short and functional, with lots of links that you can explore if you’re so inclined.

Story Time

It’s 2010, and I’m a 27 year old sedentary gun guy. I have a few formal gun classes, and am quite sure I have a good handle on things. I am two years past my first stem cell transplant for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and don’t pay much attention to my diet since I am just sort of happy to still be alive. I don’t like to look at myself in a mirror after a shower because I weigh about 235lbs at 6′ tall and I look like a more-pale Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. I had been a bit overweight nearly all of my adult life, but I have reached apex fat. Time to do something new.

Luckily I find a guiding light. I read a thread on TPI, Craig Douglas’ discussion forum, about intermittent fasting for weight loss. Larry Lindenmen writes a great thread that inspires me to give this ‘don’t eat for a while and lose weight’ method a try. I start with 3 days a week, 24 hour fasting in conjunction with beginning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and I lose 50 lbs within about 9 months without changing the types of food I ate. Simple. But not always easy.

I had found a method that worked for me. I have continued to use intermittent fasting as a way to maintain body composition in the leaner times, and get back down to a reasonable weight in the chubby times. I’m not an athlete. I’m not special. I don’t have a physically demanding job. I just want to look better naked and avoid avoidable diseases related to obesity.

I’m no stud, but I’m better off than I was.

What Is Fasting?

Fasting is simply not eating. No food in. The duration and purpose is variable, but the principle is as old as humanity. Fasting is in our DNA. When we were living in caves, fasting was the time between finding a berry bush and killing the next antelope. The ancient Greek philosophers advocated fasting for health and mental clarity. There’s fasting in every religion. It’s only recently that we ‘just can’t imagine missing a meal’. America’s waistlines show it.

If you want to try  fasting, think of it as chopping out a few meals that you otherwise would have eaten. With only two 24-hour fasts a week, you are hacking 2500(ish) calories out of your weekly intake. Even if you only view it as a way to control calories, you’re still making a profound impact on your caloric intake and you’ll see the fat fall away. No need to alter the foods you currently eat. Pizza and beer is still on the menu, as long as you make up for the splurge with a 24 hour fast somewhere in your week.

There is real evidence that fasting is superior to simple caloric restriction from a physiological standpoint, but I’ll save some of that for later in the post in case you’re in a rush.

It costs nothing. There’s no preparation involved. It’s time flexible. It’s lifestyle flexible. It’s simple. It works.

Is it hard?

Here’s some quick thoughts I have after coming off of my 5 day fast.

  • I lost 7 pounds, 3-4 of which was fat, and the remaining is water weight. As you shed glucose, you don’t hold as much water. The water leaves after a day or two, and everything after that is fat being consumed.
  • You’ll feel real hunger, not the usual boredom hunger you usually feel. It peaks at about day 2, then after that the feeling of hunger goes away.
  • Coffee makes it easier.
  • Taking control of your hunger is reassuring and empowering. Don’t be a slave to food.
  • Think of calories on a weekly time scale. Know that if you smash 4,000 Calories of wings and beer, that it’s OK. Just eat a little less next week and add an extra 24 hour fast.
  • Due to the flexibility of the ‘diet’, you won’t as easily derail yourself with a big cheat day. I’m prone to derailing when the diet is strict. Fasting means you don’t have to say no to birthday cake or a slice of pizza.
  • I notice a real mood lift once I go over the two day hump (which is the body changing energy pathways from glucose to ketone bodies)
  • Energy levels are steady, but lower than usual
  • Glycolytic exercise like martial arts or crossfit workouts become very difficult on an extended fast. I can easily time 24 hour fasts around Jiu  Jitsu classes, but 5 days straight made me take a few classes off.
  • Feeling real hunger is something we are not used to doing. You will feel real body hunger, not boredom hunger. It’s simple, but it’s not always easy. Remind yourself why you’re doing it and keep yourself occupied with other things. The biggest reason people fail is they sit around fantasizing about eating. Stay busy.
  • For me, ‘eating less’ is difficult. ‘not eating’ is easy. I’m pitiful at self-moderation, but I can easily stop eating for a while.
  • Don’t tell people what you’re doing. They will try to sabotage you. They usually don’t even know they’re doing it. You will get offered cookies and snacks. Keep your plan to yourself until you start making progress. Trust me.
  • You will have a lower food bill and fewer dishes. It’s the diet that pays you to adhere to it!

How Do I Fast?

Most of these fasting techniques allow for black coffee, tea, water, and a diet soda or two. That’s really all you want to ingest. If you sneak a bite, you’re only cheating yourself. As with lots of things, people try to make it more complicated than it is, thus lots of rules and specifics to set their methods apart. When in doubt, don’t eat and only drink water. Easy. Here’s a few variations that I’ve tried.

  • Eat/Stop/Eat: My preferred method. You simply eat a meal, say lunch on a Tuesday, then you don’t eat again until Lunch on Wednesday. 24 hours of not eating. Do this 2 or 3 times a week. You’re hacking 4-6 meals out of your weekly diet which adds up to significant caloric reduction in a given week.
  • The Warrior Diet: It’s a little more structured but basically you’re eating one meal a day, or only a small snack for lunch, then gorging at night. It’s feeding within a small window of time.
  • Leangains: It was designed by a body builder but the crux is that you have an 8 hour window in which you eat your daily calories, and then don’t eat for the next 16. 16/8.
  • Extended fasting to encourage Autophagy: This is a process of cellular cleanup that happens when the body isn’t getting any outside fuel/protein. The body scavenges damaged and old cell components and recycles them for building blocks of new fresh cells. It also reduces inflammatory markers which can help with the myriad issues that people can experience with a prolonged inflammation response. My longest is a 5 day fast, but you start benefiting after just 24 hours. This one is especially interesting to me on the cancer mitigation front.
  • Link to a list of a few more techniques you can try.

Diets that Might Accelerate Weight Loss Combined with Fasting

I like to dabble in diets because it keeps things interesting. I ultimately credit my weight loss and maintenance to fasting, but I like to experiment with my performance and body by trying different ways of eating.

I have tried all of these diets for a minimum of four months. I did Paleo for two years. One common feature of the diets I list is they all strive to limit insulin release (the body’s sugar storage hormone) to one extent or another.

When I fail at a diet, it has always been in my adherence to the plan. That’s a personal failure. Life got in the way of adherence. Every single one of the listed diets has worked for me while I did them. I never stopped because I was experiencing adverse effects or unexpected results.

Dr. Jason Fung’s lectures (embedded below) make a strong case that by limiting the input of glucose/fructose, and thus minimizing the insulin-response, goes a long way to allowing the body to burn through the cellular reserves of glucose and tap into fat storage. The problem of fat loss seems to go beyond calories in/out.

  • Paleo: A popular diet that at its core relies on shopping around the outside edge of the grocery store. Meats, veggies, nuts, fruits. Avoiding (insulin releasing) starches, sugars, and grains. It also tells you to avoid common inflammatory foods like dairy and legumes, which many people have trouble processing and causes an unintended immune response. You can dig for the details if you’re interested.
  • Ketogenic: High fat, moderate protein, minimal carbohydrates. No, eating fat doesn’t make you fat. The goal of this diet is to drop carbohydrate (glucose/fructose) intake down the the point that your body changes energy pathways from glucose based to fat (ketone-body) based. The fat that the body uses is a combination of what you ingest, plus mobilized fat from your body’s reserves. This works really well for fat loss for most people. We have good luck with it.
  • 4-hour body Diet (Slow Carb): lean meat, beans, and veggies and no white foods like sugar, pasta, rice, bread, cheese. Eat the same few meals over and over again, Don’t drink calories. Start your day with protein, Don’t eat fruit. one “cheat day” a week. My wife and I both had good success with this. The ‘slow carb’ part is the insulin limiting key of this one.
  • ChaosAndPain’s Apex Predator Diet: This is a bodybuilder’s diet. A period of strict keto, then daily meat-on-bone meal, protein shakes, one day of fasting a week, heavy lifting, etc.

Why Calorie Restriction Fails

It’s safe to say that everyone has tried the ‘eat less, move more’ type diet for fat loss. It turns out there’s a reason that your weight loss slowed and then halted the longer you were on the diet. It’s the body adapting to a long term self-induced famine. If you severely restrict daily calories over a long period, your body turns down its expenditure of energy to accommodate the long-term shortage. Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) drops to accommodate your caloric deficit.

Fasting is distinctly different than caloric restriction. The total lack of food input actually increases energy expenditure by the body, increases norepinephrine release, and mobilizes fat storage for energy.

If you want to dig deeper into this and see a convincing pile of studies to support this conclusion, I point you towards Dr. Jason Fung. Dr. Fung has a great narrative that is built on 100 years of clinical research. His ‘two compartment model’ makes a lot of sense in explaining why calories in doesn’t always equal calories out. I encourage you to watch his lectures and read his books if this interests you.

If you give it a shot, let me know how it goes. I think you’ll find that it’s a relatively effortless way to lose fat. If you have questions, I’ll answer what I can and refer you to source material as needed.

Resources and More Info

If you have time, please watch this talk:

Dr. Fung also is a big advocate for fasting and actually wrote a book on it. Here he is explaining why fat loss is more than an energy in/out phenomenon.

  1. The Complete Guide To Intermittent Fasting Dr. Jason Fung
  2. EAT/STOP/EAT Brad Pilon
  3. 4 Hour Body Tim Ferriss
  4. Keto-Diet Primer on Reddit



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AAR: Citizen’s Defense Research: Armed Parent/Guardian

Happy 2018 Everyone! Sorry for the long absence. I've been concentrating on family and haven't felt the itch to write. I'll be back this year with more. For today, we have GuG's first guest post. The author's name is Jaycel Adkins and he is a small business owner in North Florida. Writer at READY AT HAND on Facebook. Find him on instagram as @stoic.ninja. He's an avid reader, Stoic, Jiu Jitsu practitioner, shooter, and deep thinker. I'm very fortunate to be able to post this review. I really like his take on the AAR as more than a cataloging of topics. I hope you like it too.

PROLOGUE

Even in this age, there still exist videos that stain one’s soul.

The video is in black and white. There is no sound. The angle looks down at the front of a restaurant. The camera bears witness to a 2 year old boy sweeping the sidewalk. A couple passes him. Then a darkly dressed man approaches.

The attack is sudden and violent. A soccer kick to the child’s face. The child falls. The darkly dressed man stomps on the child’s head 13 times. He picks up the child’s dropped broomstick.

Another man, on a scooter passes by on the sidewalk. And keeps going.

The darkly dressed man strikes the child with the broomstick 10 times.The darkly dressed man then picks up the dust pan, turning it’s edge toward the child. He raises it.

Another man, walks past on the sidewalk. And keeps going.

The darkly dressed man brings the edge of the pan down upon the child 8 times.

Another man followed by a group of people emerge from the restaurant and confront the darkly dressed man.

He casually turns and walks down the street, before the group gives chase.

The child remains on the ground…

 

BLOCK I: SEMINAR

“Appropriate actions are measured on the whole by our social relationships.” – Epictetus, Handbook 30

The above scene is from a series of videos shown during the first block of instruction in the course, “The Contextual Handgun: Armed Parent/Guardian” taught by John Johnson and Melody Lauer of Citizens Defense Research. This course is their answer to the question:

“What if my children are with me when I get into a shooting?”

The course begins with a four hour seminar via lecture. Powerpoint slides labeled:

CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING,

DEFINE THE PROBLEM,

REACTIONS v. RESPONSES,

TYPES OF ATTACKS ON CHILDREN,

ADDRESSING THE PROBLEM,

GEAR,

MINDSET,

PRIORITIES v. TASKS,

PERCEPTION v. REALITY,

KNOW THE LAW, ETC.

are presented and explained in depth by both John and Melody.

And there are the videos.

The conclusion that one arrives at during the course of the Seminar is that the problems an average parent/guardian faces in a violent encounter are many, complicated, and unique enough that they must be trained for rather than merely reacted to. How do criminals, intent on committing a crime against you, view your children? Video examples shown during the seminar show a level of cruel indifference. How much does a child’s presence affect the parent/guardian’s attention, mobility, tactical options, gear, training? A lot.

What are the particular types of attacks that are focused on children? What techniques and strategies can you deploy preemptively and during an attack, in order to increase the odds of your loved ones and you surviving? What risks to them are you prepared to accept?

The context the seminar portion lays out, leads to the next two blocks of the course. First, a baseline of skill with a handgun. Second, followed by a day to provide strategies and techniques that students can employ to protect their loved ones caught in a violent encounter with you.

BLOCK II: FUNDAMENTAL CONCEALED PISTOL SKILLS

“And yet a bull doesn’t become a bull all at once, any more than a man acquires nobility of mind all at once; no, he must undergo hard winter training, and so make himself ready, rather than hurl himself without proper thought into what is inappropriate for him.” – Epictetus, Discourses I.2.32

The fundamental tool that the course focuses on to solve encounters that have gotten to the point of life and death in the presence of our loved ones, is the handgun. Block II is spent on how to successfully draw a handgun from concealment and put rounds accurately and swiftly on target.

Anyone who has taken a handgun course from a good instructor is familiar with what is covered in this block of the coursework. Draw, presentation, sight alignment and picture, trigger press, strong/weak hand, shooting at various distances, and safely holstering the handgun.

Building on the seminar portion of Block I, what is immediately apparent is the close focus on fast and accurate firing of rounds from a concealed holster. Particularly doing so one handed. The natural reason being that your non-firing hand will likely be occupied managing your loved one.

As a relatively new shooter, shooting one handed under the stress of a timer, at A-zone sized targets was a revelation. And not an encouraging one. Shots were missed. Instruction was provided by both John and Melody throughout the courses of fire.

Fitting with the purpose of the course, the Block II final course of fire is the FBI Qualification. Fortunately, as a result of both John and Melody’s tutelage, I was able to shoot a passing score.

BLOCK III: TACTICS AND TECHNIQUES FOR ARMED PARENTS

“With regard to everything that happens to you, remember to look inside yourself and see what capacity you have to enable you to deal with it.” – Epictetus, Handbook 10.

Day two, Block III, is spent on learning a series of tactics and techniques to engage in a gunfight around loved ones and be successful. John and Melody present a series of problems and then demonstrate and coach a series of solutions to overcome them. Problems that are covered include:

Problem 1: Over penetration of rounds. Problem 2: One handed draws from concealment with a young child in your arms. Problem 3: Controlling movement of loved ones while drawing to fire. Problem 4: Abduction dilemma, criminal has possession of your child in hand. Problem 5: Efficacy of Central Nervous System shot. Problem 6: How good of a shot are you, really? At what distances? How quickly? Problem 7: Shooting on the Move, counter-intuitively away from your loved one. Problem 8: Drawing on an already drawn gun.

I will speak briefly about one of the problems. If you seek more in depth knowledge, I recommend that you take the coursework.

Block III began with a ballistic gel test to demonstrate how far certain ammo can penetrate. The importance of this goes to the problem of a natural desire to shield our loved ones with our bodies when they are in danger from an attacker. What one realizes, to great dismay, is the likelihood that rounds that penetrate us, could likely go through us and strike those we love. Our bodies are a chimera for cover.

Another problem is how to control our loved one’s movements to prevent them from stepping in front of our muzzle during a lethal force encounter that can suddenly present itself. Melody Lauer demonstrates one leverage technique as a solution:

The course ends with the TAP/G Qual, which consents of shooting the FBI Qual while dealing with a loved one in hand. I was able to pass the Qual, barely.

The focus on accurate and timely fire is complicated by the shooter having to manage their love one. What you quickly are made aware of is the line seperating when you can to when you cannot make those hits reliably. In an actual life and death event, that line can bring untold tragedy if you are on the wrong side of it.

This was the most valuable lesson on the 2nd day for myself. Knowing, at this moment, what I am capable of and what I am not: in terms of shooting skill.

EPILOGUE

“The following assertion of the philosophers may perhaps seem paradoxical to some people, but let us examine nonetheless, as best as we can, whether it is true that ‘we ought to combine caution with confidence in all that we do.’” – Epictetus, Discourses II.1.1

10:30pm.

Manchester Arena, United Kingdom.

A concert by Ariana Grande has just finished.

10:33pm.

A suicide bomber detonates himself in the foyer.

In the maelstrom that followed, a homeless man by the name of Stephen Jones helped survivors.

When interviewed by ITV News about his actions after the bombing, he replied:

“It had to be done, you had to help, if I didn’t help, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself, walking away and leaving kids like that.”


I am a bachelor. I have no children. I am an only child raised by a widowed single mother.

I find the phrase ‘sheepdog’ to be pretentious at best.

But I like to think I would not be a victim of a ‘bystander effect.’ Namely doing nothing when help is needed; waiting for others to act; sherking the impulse to do the right thing because of fear or even worse: social embarrassment.

What are the ‘appropriate actions’ for my ‘social relationships,’ often to strangers? What level of ‘hard winter training’ is needed to build the ‘capacities’ to successfully win a life and death encounter? How does one ‘combine caution with confidence in all that we do’ so that we can live with the decisions made in a violent instant, for all the years that come after?

Why did I take this course?

Ultimately, to have the skill to do what my personal ethics demand of me.

What did I learn from this course?

The bold line separating my skills from my ethics.

And ultimately, where to go from here.

2018 Training Schedule

  • Establishing a Dominance Paradigm with Tom Givens, William Aprill, and Craig Douglas
  • Edge Weapon Overview with Craig Douglas of SHIVWORKS
  • Pistol Shooting Solutions with Gabe White

Further Reading

Author with his scored target.



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Cheap Bags for Bringing Ammo to the Range

I had been looking for an inexpensive way to transport a day’s worth of ammo without having to buy more clunky .30 or .50 ammo cans. I had some of these inexpensive dry bags from a previous camping trip, and it turns out they’re great for toting ammo. They’re tough, cheap, and they conform to the space available in the range bag. I’ve used all the bag sizes to hold ammo from .22lr through 7.62×39. Depending on the bag and caliber, you can get 300-400 cartridges in them pretty easily. No need to buy an expensive custom bag system like the Ammo Sac or the G-Code Bang Box, which I would happily use instead if it were given to me.

Just dump the loose rounds into a dry bag, roll the top, and clip it. Give them a try, I think you’ll find them useful.

Dry Bags for Ammo

That’s it. Keep your ammo organized for maximum fun and profit.

Mark



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