How Not to Charm a Girl

I have talked about awareness often in this blog and my book. Not only is paying more attention to your surroundings a good defence strategy, it can also be educational and entertaining. Perhaps you have gathered by now I am something of a people watcher.
So, I am sitting in the pub last night, waiting for one and hopefully both of the exceptional women I have invited will turn up soon. Two girls join me at my table. One we will charitably call “cuddly”. She may have been carrying a bit more weight around the middle than was good for her, but her face was slim and quite pretty and she has nice ringleted hair. Her friend reminds me of Eileen Daly from “Razor Blade Smile” (below), which is no bad thing in my book. She wears a lace fronted top that displays aa very pleasant expanse of sideboob and upper belly. Their manners are pleasant too. We exchange a few words and jokes and chat a little before I let them resume their conversation. Basically these are two decent looking, pleasant girls and I might have paid them more attention if I had not already arranged to meet my other friends.

After a while two lads approach the table. I think I had nipped to the bar to get a drink so the girls appeared to be on their own. Trying to chat up a girl when she is with a man is of course generally a bad idea, irrespective of the actual relationship between them. You are effectively saying that man is a nonentity and beneath consideration. These guys had approached politely and respectfully and the girls were obviously keen to talk to them, I had my own company on the way so I sat back to enjoy the show. What was particularly funny was that this bar was very noisy and it became evident that the only person hearing both sides of the conversation was me.
Guy “We don’t want to interrupt!”
Girl “You need to grow up? OK!”
Things progress, or not, as the case may be. The Australian guy hits it off with “Ringlets” and before long they are side by side, leaning in towards each other and finding excuses to touch each other. Virtually textbook. On the other side of the table “Eileen” is obviously not doing so well. In fact I wouldn’t have needed my body reading skills, since several times she looked across, made eye contact with me and gave me as exasperated look. “Eileen” rolled a cigarette and announced she was going outside for a smoke. Trying to give this guy a bit of a clue, since he didn’t seem to have one, I asked:
“You not going to join her?”
“I don’t smoke” he said, oblivious to anything else. She was outside for some time so I try again:
“She’s been a while. Why don’t you check she is OK”
Either this guy was totally clueless or he was totally immune to “Eileen’s” charms, which were not inconsiderable.
Over the last couple of years I have often got to see just how bad the chat-up techniques of many men out there are. My girlfriend is a stunningly attractive woman and it is a rare night when if at least one guy does not attempt to hit on her while she is away from me. Some will try and hit on her while I am close by, probably assuming an old ugly guy like me cannot have anything to do with her. She has told me that I was one of the very few guys who actually offered to buy her a drink! I did see one guy offer her a drink, but he was clutching his phone in his hand like a security blanky, so he did not cut an impressive figure!

Friday Funny

The cover is a joke, but the photo is apparently genuine!

Apache Ring and Thing

Busy day today, had to be up early and did not sleep well. I have several topics to investigate but neither the time nor energy to do them justice today. So I will post a photo and link on these interesting ring and hand weapons that were allegedly used by the French street thugs known as “Apaches” (pronounced “ah – PAHASH”)

The item on the right resembles the more modern Comtech Stinger.
The Apache were known for a variety of nasty tricks and were a considerable hazard to public safety until the majority of them lost their lives during the First World War.

Sin: Save Yourself First?

There is a wise maxim about not taking refuge in absolutes, and one of the reasons to follow this occurred to me today.
I seem to see a lot of people getting very worked up about things they regard as sin. Gay marriage seems to be the current fashion but there is no shortage of other issues it seems.
Next time someone appears on your TV telling you something they don’t approve of is sinful, stop and have a good look at that person. Two of the “Seven Deadly Sins” are Sloth and Gluttony. These are things that knowingly hurt other people either by action or omission, so qualify as genuine sins by most reasonable definitions. Does this moral crusader look like they eat way more than they actually need? Do they look like they could change this behaviour, but can’t be bothered? There is probably a big chunk of self-pride thrown in there too, which is another sin we are told. If they are so passionate against sin, why are they so tolerant of their own?
Why are you listening to protestations about another’s alleged sinning from someone who makes no efforts to deal with their own actual sinful behaviour? It is something to think about when you have a spare minute.
If gay is wrong should nuns be allowed to be fat?

Swings and Uppercuts

Just before I started this blog I spent a couple of weeks reading through around 340 books on martial arts and self-defence. While that number sounds improbable you have to understand that many of these books are very similar. I have become rather good at picking out the duplicated information and concentrating on the more unique.
One technique that stays in mind was a sequence on “How to defend against the Hook punch”. According to this book you use your hand to block the puncher’s upper arm. The main problem with this is that the photos were clearly not showing a hook punch. As I detail in my book, a hook punch has elements of a wheel. The upper arm is the spoke and the forearm and fist lie along the imaginary rim. It also tends to be used at very close range because of this. You would need very long and probably very thin arms to reach past that fist and push on the biceps to stop that punch.
The punch that was actually being thrown was a swing, and a pretty wide one. The swing is one of those techniques real boxers are told never to use since it leaves you wide open. I caught a few seconds of the Women’s Boxing in the Olympics and there were a couple of swings being traded. That is not a criticism of women Boxing by the way, just a criticism of how far some combat sports have strayed from viable techniques.
Yesterday I came across this technique, which I am sure will give anyone remotely familiar with Boxing a good chuckle. This guy is supposed to be attacking with an uppercut. A good uppercut tends to come straight upwards vertically and only travel about six inches of distance. The attacker will be virtually touching you before he sends an uppercut up like a rocket. Even if this attack is a shovel hook the interval between fighters would be much smaller and probably need alternate defensive strategies.



The other day I found in my files a Japanese cartoon I had started downloading ages ago. Yesterday I finally got around to starting to watch it. I was enjoying the first episode when an idea struck me. Feeling a bit achy. I could run a bath and watch the second episode while having a soak. I place the computer on the opposite side of the bathroom where I have a good view. Episode One finished just as the bath was ready, so I clicked on Episode Two and got in the bath. The program freezes up during the first minute of credits. I get out of the bath, restart the program, get back in the water. I then notice the theme song is in Japanese, whereas the first episode had been in English, including the theme. Get out the bath and try to pull up the language track settings to ensure the dialogue will be in English. The screen dies and everything goes blank. The computer has a battery that is way past its best, so I look out in the hall to where I had plugged the power supply in. Yep, I had forgot to switch on the wall socket, problem solved, back into the bathroom and fire up the computer again. Mains power light is on. Hit the start button, the other light comes on, stay on for a second and then goes out. This happens every time I try it, and all the other lights that represent the harddrive etc stay dark. My laptop is dead.
Earlier that day I had spent about an hour writing several new sections for the next book. I had not yet transferred a duplicate to my flash drive, intending to do it later on that night. Loads of other useful stuff I don’t think I have backed up to my external hard drive recently. What’s more, money is tight at the moment, so computer repairs or even a replacement machine are an expense I can do without. It is possible that despite my care, some water has gotten into the machine. Several times during that evening I try the machine again. Light goes on, light goes out.
This morning I pack my machine into a rucksac and bring it into work. I’ll ask the computer tech here for advice on anything I can do with it or where to take it for repairs. I finish my morning coffee and decide to give it one last check. It works! Apparently it needed the night to dry out, needed shaking up in the rucksac, wanted some fresh air or just fancied a ride on the tube train. I don’t know.
Why am I telling you this story? Well, I like to pass on information and lessons that might be useful, not just in the field of self-defence. Half a lifetime ago I had the task of trying to teach medical students about science. They had to design experiments, research an idea and then present their results. Every year I would hear the same thing: “I left my results on the bus!”; “Hassan has the results and he is not in, he was supposed to be!”; “My disc has a virus!” etc, etc.
I always used to say “Where were your backups? Why didn’t you make duplicates?” and since I believe in learning from the mistakes of others, have a number of backup systems for data I consider important. However, this experience has reminded me I should be backing up more frequently, so today’s lesson is:
Always have a backup or two.
Backups are no good unless they are maintained.

Cheap Shots, Ambushes and Other Lessons

In my book I recommended two other books as “Required Reading”:
A Bouncer’s Guide to Barroom Brawling by Peyton Quinn (Paladin Press (1990) ISBN 0-87364-586-3) and Street E&E by Marc MacYoung (Paladin Press. ISBN 087364-743-2).
I have just finished another of Marc’s books Cheap Shots, Ambushes and Other Lessons. Paladin Press. ISBN 087364-496-4) and cannot recommend this highly enough. Some great stuff about awareness, avoidance, psychology and world views, all written in Marc’s usual entertaining and informative style. If you need to learn about self-defence, buy my book. If you want to learn more about why fights occur, also buy Cheap Shots.


The topic of the vajra arose the other day. For a long time I had considered this to be a ritual/ symbolic object that just happened to have the characteristics of being an emergency kongo type weapon. The wiki article on the vajra seems to consider that the item was intended as a weapon. It quotes several myths were gods are supposed to have fought with varja. One of the translations of vajra is “thunderbolt” and gods fighting with thunderbolts is a common theme in many cultures. It is possible these myths refer to the more elemental form of thunderbolt rather than an object like the vajra. Thunderbolt itself is open to alternate interpretations. Today we assume it to be a lightning bolt but in older times the term often meant a meteorite.

Further evidence that the vajra might have been intended as a weapon lies in one of its alternate names: kongou or kongo. If the martial aspect of the vajra is well known, certain pieces of Buddhist and Asian art that feature it begin to take on a different light. Is there an implied threat and strength in a piece, rather like the king holding a sceptre or a pharaoh his whip?

I decided to have a quick look at how practical the vajra is as a weapon. As it happens, I happen to have one sitting on top of my computer router. I was walking through town one day and passed a music shop. They had a vajra in their window. It had come in a shipment of Tibetan instruments and they were using it for window dressing, with no idea what it was. I brought it for half of what I was willing to pay, so everyone was happy.
The central shaft of the varja is quite narrow and it can be used for certain kubotan-type locks and Eda koppo techniques. The hourglass like shape of the central portion means that for some techniques such as thumb locks there is less likelihood of the attacked part slipping free.
The vajra/ kongo is primarily a striking weapon, however. The dumbbell-like shape provides a very secure grip. The mouldings and shapes on the narrow central shaft also improve grip. Each end of the vajra ends in a narrow, blunt square-section point. This is a far smaller striking area than I put on my homemade kongos or can be found on many commercial kubotans. An alternate translation for vajra is “diamond crusher” and it is obvious this item could put a lot of force into a very small area. I have no doubt that many attacks with a vajra could disable, injure or kill.
Next time you seen an image of a seemingly tranquil Buddhist priest with a vajra, be aware he is in fact ready with a weapon far more effective than a knuckle duster!

Platinum Grit: Friday's Funny.

Platinum Grit is a webcomic drawn by a talented Australian Illustrator called Trudy Cooper. I would post a direct link but the site seems to be down today. Trudy also writes and draws the NSFW but very funny Oglaf (also down today!).
The following panel is just pure comedy gold. Kate notices the door of the house is open, so arms herself with the steering lock and…


Inspiration on Thursday

Some people are truly inspiring! They are not people who get paid millions to play a game they loved anyway. They are not people who won a gold medal pursing their hobby at the taxpayer’s expense.
There is a lady here who works as a cleaner. I don’t know the story of how she came all the way from Colombia to clean toilets every day in London. I just marvel at the fact that she always appears cheerful and has a warm smile and friendly word for anyone she knows at any time.