Attack, Avoid, Survive: Now in Epub!

A few weeks back the updated and expanded “Global Edition” of “Attack, Avoid, Survive” was released. It is now 376 pages long but changes in formatting mean that it has about 50% more content than the original book, including new techniques and extra illustrations. It is a sturdy brick of a book now. Not only will it teach you self-defence but you can use it to beat a rapist to death and it may just stop small calibre bullets 🙂
I rather like the printed edition of my book but I am aware many potential readers only have limited space on their bookshelves.
Late last night the Global Edition became available in epub. I had experimented with creating an epub version when the original book was published. At the time there were just too many technical problems involved in the process and it seemed likely that there would never be an electronic version of the book.
Since then, conversion to epub has become a little more user friendly. I was expecting to take a large chunk of the summer converting the manuscript. As it turned out it took much less time. This is not to say that it was not without its problems and didn’t involve some fairly intense work. People wonder why ebooks cost what they do when they need no paper or printing. It is because of the many more added man-hours involved in their conversion. I discovered a book that looked perfect in one viewer would have false hyperlinks in random places when viewed in another. I hope I have corrected all these, but have no way of knowing how other viewers might treat it. If there are such problems my apologies to the reader. I did my best with the limited resources and budget that I had.
Some of you will know that “Crash Combat” is already available in epub format. An obvious question is whether there will be an epub version of “Survival Weapons: Optimizing You Arsenal”? The answer is that I cannot see that happening anytime soon. The shotgun chapter of the book contains a large number of useful reference tables which may be problematic to convert to epub. I have no immediate plans to make an epub version of the book anytime in the near future so if you are interested in this book go ahead and get the print copy.

Items for a Daysac, the photoshoot.

Some photos of the daysac kit I discussed yesterday. I will stress some other items are likely to be added as suits the intended trip. Currently the bag and the contents shown weigh about 5½ lbs with the waterbottle empty.  

Clockwise, from the top.
Red and black item is the keffiyeh. A hank of paracord and one of general purpose string rests on top.
The green item to the left and beneath the keffiyeh is the All-weather blanket. The trainer laces visible are attached to the AW blanket grommets.
To right of keffiyeh in white plastic bag is a toilet roll. Beneath this is a pack of disposable lighters. Only two will be carried and a couple of nightlight candles added.
The lighters and toilet roll are on top of my boonie hat
Under the boonie hat is a 3 litre Platypus waterbottle with drinking tube.
On top of the waterbottle is a pair of poundstore gloves and a headover to the left of them.
Left of the waterbottle and resting on the AW blanket is a pac-a-mac
The daysac is on the far left with the first aid kit on top. Above is the whistle/compass/thermometer/LED light/magnifier/mirror thing that I use as a zipper pull.
Not shown above: Pencil, candles and hand-crank LED flashlight. I forgot to take them out of their compartment for the photo!

A photo of the first aid pouch contents and the other side of the whistle thing.
The pouch came with a pair of clean disposable gloves in a small bag, visible top-middle. Bottom right is the rest of the contents the pouch came with. Some plasters, tape and absorbent materials. I cannot recall if the alcohol wipes came with the pouch or I added them later. These items will be placed in a better ziplock bag since this one has torn.
The contents I added: Painkillers and diclofenac. Tin of Vaseline. More plasters.

Items for a Daysac

Some time back I acquired a new daysac.
To my mind, it is prudent if such a bag routinely has certain items stored in it.
I had recently been writing about the “six tools of travelling” so I thought that it might be interesting to use these as a guide towards stocking my bag.
The first item of the tools was a hat. Often my old daysac had contained my favourite sun-hat, an advantage-pattern boonie.
I decided it would be useful to have something for colder conditions too, so I acquired another headover. Very versatile items are headovers, as I will discuss in a future blog.
Treating headgear as a component of the category of protection of extremities, I also placed some gloves in the bag. These were cheap acrylic gloves I found in a poundstore.
With them I placed some disposable vinyl gloves which could be used with the acrylic gloves to form a vapour barrier system if it was really cold.
The next “tool” would be a towel or cloth. For this I chose a keffiyeh which can serve a variety of purposes. A bandanna or old triangular bandages are good alternatives.
I chose a black and red keffiyeh which could also be used for signalling.
For the medicine component, I brought a red medical pouch from the 99p store.
It came with some items inside but I mainly brought it for the pouch.
For a basic medical kit, ensure it has a useful number and variety of plasters. Add some painkillers and alcohol wipes and pack it all in waterproof bags within the pouch.
I added some diclofenac since I get migraines, and a small tin of Vaseline. A more recent addition is about a foot of elasticated sticking plaster tape wound around a short length of tube.
Suncream and insect repellant often also rides in the daysac.
For cordage I added some hanks of string and paracord.
For the fire component. I brought a bundle of disposable lighters from the 99p shop and placed a couple in the pack.
The last traditional tool of travelling would be a writing kit.
It is quite common for my daysac to hold a notepad and pen.
Possibly the pack should contain a pencil and some paper at least.
In fact, this last category tends to make me think about documentation and signalling in general and is what inspired me to add some additional items.
Whilst in the 99p store, I saw a whistle that also incorporated a compass, a thermometer a magnifier, a microlight and a mirror.
I’d not use this as my primary means of navigation, of course, but it forms a handy and novel ring pull for one of the daysac zips.
I added my Platypus waterbottle with its drinking tube to the bag. If you do not have something like this,  add an empty 2 litre soda bottle you can use for water. When travelling my daysac usually carries a supply of boiled sweets that can provide a very welcome energy boost.
The contents of my old daysac had included a mini-maglight.
I’d been rather impressed by a hand-crank LED flashlight from the 99p store.
Not as robust as the maglight, it was true, but something that could sit in the pack until needed without worrying about the state of the batteries. I acquired another example and added it to the daysac contents.
One of the first items I had added to be pack was my All-Weather blanket. This is a more robust version of the emergency mylar “space” blankets.
It is provided with grommets at the corners and has a non-reflective side.
Mine has been on many adventures with me and several times I have found its warmth and water resistance useful.
If you do not have one of these, you should at least include one of the smaller emergency space blankets in your pack. My local poundstore has two for a pound at the moment, so it is worth stocking up!
The AW blanket makes a pretty effective raincape, but I also added a pacamac to the daysac.
The final item that my daysac carries is a roll of toilet roll in a plastic bag. Should I need to make a fire that is going to be my first source for tinder.

Striking the Centaur

After seven years of failed attempts, I finally got my girlfriend to visit the British Museum. One particular piece in the Greek section caught my interest.
Of particular note is the posture of the man fighting the centaur. First of all, note how his leg is hooked around the foreleg of the centaur. You will see this particular leg action in many contexts, one of the most familiar perhaps being in Highland dancing. This is one of those examples of a dance move that is also used as training for a combat move. In combat this swift leg raise can be used to avoid a low strike. The leg action is also used in Highland wrestling and other martial arts as a tripping action. This is what the sculptor has portrayed here, although its effectiveness against a quadruped is doubtful! As well as pulling a leg aside this leg position can be used another way. The toe touches the ground for additional stability and the straightening of the leg used to displace the foe’s leg and shift their balance.
The position of the man’s right hand is also notable. His fist is inverted and he appears to be striking the centaur’s temple. Recently I had watched a Hong Kong movie called “Dragon”. A major plot point was that one character made use of a distinctive strike to the temple. He struck with his fist inverted, using the tip of his thumb, the thumb clamped across the top of his fist.
The technique portrayed by the sculptor is also reminiscent of the punch Jack Dempsey calls the “corkscrew hook”. Readers who had read my book will know that the corkscrew is a technique for coming outside and over an opponent’s guard. This use is consistent with the position of the centaur’s left arm. The man has been grabbed by the throat so counters with a punch to the temple from the outside gate. One of Erle Montaigue’s books has effectively the same technique executed from the “White Crane Spreads Wings” posture. Erle describes it as one of the most powerful punches of any martial art since it is entirely circular in its execution. The fist finishes in an inverted position since this is the most energy efficient and relaxed way to make this punch. No muscular tension is created keeping the palm in an orientation that it does not need to be.
Erle’s example of an application was as follows. An attack with the left hand is deflected to the left with the right hand. The left hand takes over control, taking the defender to the outside gate. The right hand drops down and circles up and in to hit over the arm at the temple. My personal recommendation would be to make this as a palm-strike.

Real Action, Not Scapegoats

More than 30,000 people will be killed this year in the USA alone. They will be killed by automobiles. When someone is killed by a negligent driver no one asks what make of car was he driving? No one asks what was the model of phone he found more important than paying attention to the road. It is the driver who was guilty, not the automobile.
And yet, if there is a shooting incident such as that recently in Florida the media are fascinated by what model of gun the shooter used. It is not the gun that is the problem! Gun control laws are not the solution! Gun control laws victimize the law-abiding and create an illusion of a solution when nothing has actually been achieved.
The gun did not cause the man to murder. Religious intolerance and institutionalized homophobia did. Poor security let him take these actions with little real opposition. Mass shootings occur because their targets are undefended and irrelevant and unnecessary laws are accepted as action rather than addressing this.
What model of gun he used or whether it had a pistol grip is not relevant. By concentrating on such irrelevancies you are only perpetuating the problem and preventing a real solution.

Rubber Saps


 Recently I was doing some research on the SOE and the Home Guard Auxiliary Units. The Auxiliary units were a uniformed force that in the event of an invasion were to conceal themselves in occupied territory and conduct a campaign of sabotage. The equipment list of the auxiliary units made for interesting reading. One list I came across included a number of “knobkerries”. This probably refers to World War One vintage trench clubs that have been discussed in another blog. Such weapons would be an obvious compliment to the commando knives and other stealthy combat systems the Auxiliaries were issued with. Another list contained an entry for “rubber truncheons” instead. There are times when an enemy may need to be subdued without excessive bloodspill or fatal results.

“Rubber truncheon” is quite an evocative phrase nowadays. In the first half of the 20thcentury a number of police forces issued hard rubber batons. This was probably the source of the Auxiliary unit weapons. Such batons seem to have fallen from favour and as is often the case the reason may be more political than practical.

Many years back I wrote an article on blackjacks and saps. These can be a useful defensive tool for a police officer but have become controversial. Blackjacks have been used as scapegoats, with the weapon conveniently blamed for the misconduct of some users.

Blackjacks and saps effectively divide into two types. One type is circular in section and often has a coil spring in its shank. The other type is a flattened “beavertail-shape”. If there is a spring incorporated in this second type it will be a flat leaf spring.
The round-type have a noticeable snap to them since the spring allows the head to accelerate faster than the head of a rigid weapon of similar short length. The spring of the flat-type does not seem to contribute as noticeably to the force as the coil spring model. The beavertail-shape does allow the force to be spread over a wider area, reducing the chance of serious injury. The flat-type also gives you the option of striking with the edge when necessary, which is useful on some bulkier target areas such as large muscle groups.
I concluded that the ideal sap/blackjack would have a coil spring combined with a flattened head. As far as I know, no one has attempted to make such a model, or if they have they have not bothered to credit or contact me!
Encountering the idea of truncheons made from rubber or rubber-like materials got me thinking about blackjacks once again. Why not a modified beavertail-shape moulded from hard rubber or a synthetic modern equivalent? Much easier to manufacture than a leather, lead and spring weapon. If the stem was made in a square or circular cross section the weapon would gain the benefits of acceleration whether striking with the edge or the flat.
Police officers need more less-lethal options. The blackjack can be concealed discretely in the hand and brought into action when there is insufficient time to draw a nightstick or handgun. Used correctly it can end aggression with minimal damage.
It occurred to me last night that the resulting rubber sap might actually resemble a dog's bone-shaped toy!



Compass bearings as 64 parts.

As is the custom, the Friday blog will be a little more random and off-the wall than usual. Some time back I had some fun creating a system of weights and measures for a fictional environment. I based this system on the human pace and cubit length and derived a related system of mass and volume measurement.

The other night I was lying awake in bed and began to wonder about other alternate systems of measure. Specifically I began to think about directional bearings.

The system most familiar to many of us is that of degrees, there being 360 degrees in a circle. One theory is that there are 360 degrees in a circle because the sun appears to move approximately one degree each day. Another theory is that six equilateral triangles will make up a full circle. Each segment was then further divided into 60 by the Babylonians, who liked to do things in 12s and 60s. Incidentally the Russians also had a system based on six triangles but divided each into 100 to give 600 increments in a circle.

There didn’t seem to be any particular reason why a culture would select a system based on 360, 36, 60 or 12. Generally we think of a circle having four cardinal directions and a circle is easily divided into quarters. Each quarter is one right angle. The quarters are easily bisected to give us eight equal segments of a circle, an eighth being half a right angle. The eighths can be bisected again to give us 16 parts. If we divide the rim of each sixteenth into four equal parts we have divided the circle into 64.
I have not been able to find a good word to denote a sixty-forth part. Closest thing I came across was a “semifusa”, itself a fraction of larger measurement. For want of a better term I will call a 64th of a circle’s circumference a “Rey”.
Breaking the circle up into 64 gives us quite an elegant system. A right angle or quarter circle is 16/64ths or 16 Rey. Half a right angle or an eighth of a circle is 8 Rey. Many other useful increments are also nice whole numbers. Bearings are given in Rey. “Quarter” is a permissible alternate term for right angles, “eighth” for half right angles. Smaller angles such as sixteenths or thirty-seconds are instead given in multiples of Rey. One Rey is 5.625 degrees, a nice sized unit to work with.
The Rey or 64th can of course be divided further for more accuracy. Rather than continuing the process of further halving the unit my inclination was to decimalize fractions of the Rey. Bearings could be expressed as 9.3 Rey, for example, each tenth of a Rey being a shade over half a degree.
As I was laying thinking about this system the proverbial penny dropped. 64 parts of a circle…6400 mils on a military compass! Each Rey is equivalent to 100 mils.
For those not familiar with the system, I will explain. Many military forces use a system based on milliradians rather than degrees. A radian is a length of circumference equal to the radius of the circle. There are therefore 2π radians in a circle. More practically this unit is used in milliradians. At 1,000 metres range one “mrad” or “mil” equals one metre of circumference. Looked at more practically, if a man appears to have a width across his shoulders of about one mil he is about 500 metres away. A 0.1 mrad adjustment to gun sights changes the point of impact 1 cm at 100 m or 3 cm at 300. Mils should not be confused with MOA or “minutes of arc”. There 21,600 MOA in a circle.
Since radians fit into a circumference as a multiple of π the actual number of milliradians in a circle is approximately 6,283. A right angle in milliradians is actually π/2 x 1000 mrads, slightly less than 1600 mrads. Military forces actually use a unit derived from the milliradian called the NATO mil, which is 1/6400th of a circle. A Rey is slightly over a deciradian.

So my new measuring system had come full circle (pun intended) and differed from the NATO mil system only by the magnitude of its units.

One right angle = Quarter of a circle = 90° = 8 compass points = 16 Rey = 1600 Nato mils = π/2 (approx. 1.6) radians or approx. 16 deciradians.

1 Rey = 1/64th of a circle = 5.625° = 100 NATO mils = approx. 0.1 radians.

The interesting thing about this little thought experiment is this. Beforehand I had not paid much attention to NATO mils. A 6400th of a circle was very difficult to visualize and a bearing such as “5760 mils” would need a pause for thought to just determine if I should be looking east or west. Thinking of the compass as being in 64 parts, with each 64th having a hundred subdivisions actually makes it much easier for me to get a handle on. I know that 5760 is 57.6/64. Since 48 is three quarters of a circle and 8 is an eighth I can easily visualize that 5760 is a shade north of north-west.
Not only have I gained a better grasp of NATO mils I begin to prefer them over degrees, multiples and factors of 64 being much easier to handle than those of 360.

Try this for yourself and see how it works for you.


Attack, Avoid, Survive: Global Edition released.

As some of you already know, the rewrite of Attack, Avoid, Survive has just been released. This is a shade over five years since the original was first printed. What has changed and why is the new “Global edition” better?
One of the main changes is that I have reformatted the text so that the font is slightly larger but I can get twice as much text on a page. Since the new copy has nearly eighty extra pages you are effectively getting 50% more book than in the previous edition. The new edition contains considerable additional content. This includes new techniques, new applications for the “old” techniques and nearly twenty extra illustrations. Various sections have been rewritten or expanded. There are even brand new sections on topics such as handcuffing and the use of flashlights. This edition also includes more cross references so you can more easily find illustrations or passages referred to elsewhere in the text.
It has been a couple of months since Crash Combat when on sale and a number of copies have been sold. The two books have been written to be complimentary. Many of the topics that I could only briefly touch on in Crash Combat are dealt with in more depth in the global edition of Attack, Avoid, Survive. Crash Combat is not, however, a slimmed down version of Attack, Avoid, Survive. It contains content and techniques not covered in the larger book.
I hope you enjoy the books.


Nowadays when we use the word “tinderbox” we are usually speaking metaphorically.
To many of our ancestors this meant something more sophisticated than a simple container of tinder. I suspect some of our ancestors would have had a good chuckle at the performance some outdoorsman make of using a ferro-rod and steel! 

During my recent researches I came across a number of tinderboxes of the following pattern:

Essentially the box has two compartments. One compartment contains a flint and steel and a number of sulphur matches. The other compartment contains a pad of charcloth. A wooden damper fits into the second compartment. In some example the tinderbox only holds the charcloth and damper, the other components being kept separately.

When fire was needed, the flint and steel was struck so that sparks landed on the charcloth. Charcloth has a very low ignition temperature so is well suited to use with flint and steel. Once the charcloth is burning it is used to light one of the sulphur matches. The match is used to transfer the flame to you kindling, clay pipe or wherever else you need it. The damper is used to snuff out the burning charcloth until it is needed again. In some examples replacing the tight lid may have been enough to extinguish the flame.

An interesting component of this system were the sulphur matches. If you look at the boxes of some brands of modern matches you may still find the statement that they are “self-igniting” or similar. This is because matches as we know them are a relatively new invention. For centuries the word match meant something like the burning cord of a matchlock or the sulphur matches in a tinderbox.
Sulphur matches were also known as brimstone matches or spunks. They are simply strips of wood with each end dipped in molten sulphur and allowed to dry. Commonly they were made and sold by street vendors. Below is a nice video on making sulphur matches.

Charcloth and Charpaper

I am not sure where or when was the first time I encountered the idea of charcloth.
Over the decades I have lived in a variety of locations, none of which had a garden, so certain experiments could not be conducted. The making and testing of charcloth was one of these.
Today’s blog will mainly pass on some links and impressions.
To make charcloth, you need some form of vessel. This needs to be nearly airtight, only requiring a small hole for pressure equalization and to allow the escape of smoke.
The internet shows a number of different vessels used. One of the most practical uses a soda can. Sadly, these can often be found in wilderness areas. The vessel is made by cutting the can in half and slitting the walls of the lower part so the upper can fit snuggly over it. The tab is pushed back up so only a small vent hole remains.

The bottom of the can is packed with torn-up pieces of old cloth. These can be cotton, linen or any other vegetable derived cloth. You can use some of the cotton wool you got for the fire kit!
No synthetics or mixes of synthetic and vegetable.
The upper half of the can is fitted and the can placed on a heat source. The heat source can be a campfire, barbeque or camp stove but it should be outside since the charring cloth will produce a lot of smoke.

Continue to heat your vessel while the smoke is produced.
Once the smoke production begins to die off, carefully remove the can from the heat and put it to one side to cool.
Give this plenty of time.
If you try to open the can while the contents are still hot you will probably burn your fingers and the inrush of oxygen will cause the charcloth to catch fire.
Once cool, you should have some charcloth, suitable for tinder.
Charcloth is sometimes called charpaper.
Charcloth is made from vegetable materials, so an obvious question is can you make charpaper from paper? We seem to spend much of our lives surrounded by excess paper, so why not turn them into something more useful?
This video shows an interesting method for making charpaper from a paper tissue. It might work with other layered pages too.
Can you char paper in a vessel in the same way you process cloth?
From what research that I have been able to do, the result resembles burnt newspaper. It may take a spark but has little structural strength, making it less than practical. Waste cardboard, on the other hand, may be more practical.
I have encountered suggestions that newspaper should first be mixed with water to form a sort of papier-mâché, allowed to dry into a solid mass and then charred in a vessel. This seems a bit involved, and I wonder if the lengthy drying phase can be done away with given that you will be heating the mass anyway.
Both cardboard and wet paper are materials worth experimenting with for charpaper production. Alas, I will have to leave that to those who have better access to the open air than myself.