Saturday, December 27, 2008

I'm Back...Sorta

The surgery took about an hour, which is pretty long for a single procedure as I understand it. The technical name for having a testicle removed is an orchiectomy. I was so nervous they'd cut off the wrong one that I took a Sharpie marker to my leg and left instructions for the surgeon. Apparently this is common practice nowadays as around 5% of surgical excisions remove the wrong thing. Thankfully that didn't happen in my case, though the anesthesiologist said I came close to waking up a few times. They've got a really cool electrode rig that fits over your head like a paper crown that tells the doctors when your brainwaves begin to change, which typically indicates one rising to conscioussness in an anesthatized patient. If I hadn't mentioned my resistance to medications to the doctor in passing he wouldn't have taken that precaution, so it's important to be honest with the surgeon, no matter how small or insignificant something may seem.

Rather than simply cut open the scrotum, an orchiectomy involves making an incision horizontally along the top of the pelvis and then cutting through the connective tissue until the surgeon reaches the genitals. The upside to this is that they can remove the lymph nodes along the way for further testing. If it is malignant cancer it travels along the lymph nodes first and foremost. The downside to this procedure is that they had to cut through most of my groin muscle. If you've ever experienced the pain of straining or pulling your groin, think how much it must hurt to have the darn thing severed.

I was bedbound for the first couple days, unable to move for fear of twisting at the waist. Thankfully I was able to move to the couch for Christmas morning to be with the family as they unwrapped presents. I never know what to get them, but I really enjoy wrapping presents and seeing them admire the packaging. There are only ever so many things that could be inside, and since it was a lean year we all had a pretty good idea of what we were getting, but there's just something about seeing those nicely wrapped presents under the tree on Christmas morning. There is a feeling of spontenaity, a sense that the little glittering packages could contain anything at all. It makes the experience exciting and unique. The downside to this is that once Christmas Morning is over, the moment that you've looked forward to for Lord knows how many months is over. It brings on feelings of ennui. Needless to say I was on heavy painkillers for the whole experience, as anyone who knows me would guess by the presence of that temporary moment of optimism back there.

I'm trying to get things back to normal, but I won't receive the pathologist's report until Monday. Meaning I don't know whether or not I need to go back for diagnostics to find the cancer if it's one of the kind that's likely to have spread. This combined with the extreme fatigue from the surgery as well as the muddling effects of my pain medications means I'm not good for much.

The fatigue should've passed by now, meaning it's possible that it's resulting from the thyroid problem I've suspected for the last few months. Of course I won't know for sure until I go back to the health department and repeat this whole process, which could take up to 6 months, provided of course the cancer has indeed been taken care of.

My contracters have been kind enough to allow me a few days to recuperate, but they will expect me back on the job by Monday as well. The fatigue and mental fog I'm experiencing is very distressing as I'm not sure I'll be able to make my deadlines with my head full of cotton. In the meantime I'm trying to get my hand back in by polishing up a few short stories for online magazine publication and generally living a life of quiet desperation. I'll try to muddle through as best I can, but it's frustrating I can't seem to catch a break. Thanks for the feedback and show of support all.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Time to see the Butcher

Well folks it looks like the surgeon's are getting a bit impatient. You know how it is with people like that. Shiny new knives and nothing to cut.
They'll be throwing me on the table at 7AM tuesday morning. I don't know why it has to be so early. Personally I don't want to be worked on until the doc's had his coffee and cleared his eyes, but I guess they have other ideas.
Beside the lingering fear of my own mortality, the biggest hurdle I've got to overcome is calming my folks. This is a routine surgery (aren't they all) but still there is always the danger of bleeding out as the initial incisions come pretty close to the femoral artery. Anyone who knows about triage from a brawl or knife fight knows that the femoral artery, once knicked, retracts up against the bone of the pelvis, making it really tough to clamp, even in surgical conditions. With my mother being an RN for almost 20 years she knows most of that better than I do, making it all the more difficult to console her that everything will be OK. Even if the surgery goes well, the chances are high that I'm facing some form of cancer, though testicular cancer is the most easily treated form of cancer there is, which is a small mercy.
Being self employed means I've got no health insurance. The only reason I'm being treated at all is because of a charity organization set up in my county, which happens to be one of the wealthiest in the state. Thank God for retirees from up North. (never thought I'd say that before)
Another big concern involves my track record with anesthesia. I'm incredibly resistant to anything which puts me under. I've had 3 gastroinestinal exploratory procedures and one oral surgery over the years. Each time I woke up in the middle of surgery and began speaking to the surgeons, who wigged out of course. Each time in post-op they would inform me that it took enough medications to drop an elephant to keep me under.
I think my most amusing experience was my oral surgery, which required they drill into my upper palate to get at the canine teeth which wouldn't drop on their own. They gave me a nitrous oxide mask to breath into and told me to count backward from 100. By the time I reached 50 the nurse was crossing herself in disbelief and the surgeon muttered "holy shit" to himself. It did nothing, though one of the nurses was promptly knocked out the moment she took a breath from the mask to see if the tank feed was working properly. After waiting for more than 10 minutes, breathing from the mask, the doctor had me hooked up to an IV and gave me a dose of something else, which finally did the trick. It wasn't so funny when I was charged extra for the use of more medications.
In any case, don't expect me to post for the next few days as the recovery process will take some time. Wish me luck.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Health Update

First off I'd like to thank the kind lady who posted such glowing comments on a few of my articles. It's always very touching to find out that someone actually reads this thing of their own volition. It really helped me get through the day given what went on.

As I already explained I had a large growth in a part of the body that only males of the species posses. I first noticed it in early september and since then it's swollen up to the size of a kiwi fruit and been very painful. Being flat broke and having no health insurance I had to sign up for a medical aid offered by the county. It took quite some time for them to get the paperwork done and setup my appointment with a specialist, but I finally got to see one today. He took one look and decided I needed an ultrasound.

These doctors donate their time to the local clinics, so the're no slouches when it comes to their professions, even among the extremely exacting standards of most physicians. I got the ultrasound done about an hour later. It was no different than when they look at a baby in the womb, using that gel and wand. The only issue was this it was on a decidedly more delicate portion of my anatomy, and the lab tech was a very attractive young lady. The gel was quite warm and the wand gives off slight vibrations, needless to say I spent the entire half hour imaging session clenching my fists and thinking of baseball else I should inadvertantly offend the kind woman who was performing the ultrasound. She called in a radiologist, who looked over the results and promptly informed me that I had a tumor the size of walnut in one of my testicles.

I had kind of expected something like that with my luck. Thankfully he said it was insular, or turned inward on itself, and therefore much more likely to be benign instead of a malignant cancer. In either case it was both the radiologist's and the specialist's opinion that the testicle be removed in its entiretey ASAP. I'm now waiting for them to round up an anesthesiologist and get a hold of a surgery theater, which they say should be ready by the end of the week. I had never really intended to have children anyway, and since the other of the pair is still intact I most likely will retain the capacity. Yet I am a little bothered by the possible decrease in testosterone that may result. With as many odd things that happen to me I find it helps to have naturally agressive reactions to possible threats. In any case the possibility still exists that the tumor may be cancerous, if so then it will most certainly have had the chance to metastasize. As a result they will do a biopsy once the amputation is complete.

Oddly enough I was never scared, not when I first noticed the problem or when any of the physicians I saw tried to prepare me for the worst. My chief concern is waking up in the middle of surgery. I did so during the last 4 surgeries I had, despite the fact that I was given doses of anesthesia that were considered sufficient to put a horse in a coma, let alone a human being who wasn't even fully grown at the time. Waking up in the middle of serious oral surgery is bad enough, but this is one worse in my opinion, so I'll make sure to mention that history of chemical resistance to the anesthesiologist.

I'm hoping that it's just a side effect of the tumor throwing off my limbic system, but I've also begun to show the classic signs of hypothyroidism too. My skin flakes, my eyes are so dry they stick when I blink them sometimes, I gain weight despite the fact that I eat less than 1,000 calories a day, and I can sleep up to 16 hours at a time if I let myself. The constant mental fatigue is an issue as well seeing as I'm working on a contract with some very strict deadlines.

Of course there's also the issue of my Superior Limbal Keratoconjunctivitis. It turns out it's an autoimmune disease where abberant tissue begins to grow in a crescent shape over the top of my irises seperating the colored part of the eye from the white of the surrounding sclera. Thankfully this almost never causes any problems with vision, but it does cause extreme eye dryness, pain, and burning whenever my eyes are open and mild aching sensations when they're closed. Given that my job has me staring at a computer screen all day this is damned near an ironic tragedy. I started working at home because my stomach was too messed up to make attending any form of job a possibility. I finally think I've got a chance at making a career for myself and not ending up on the street once I'm living on my own, and the two things that I need my body for crap out on me: my eyes and my ability to concentrate for long periods of time.

I've seen an opthalmologist for it, apparently half of all people who have this disease also have thyroid disorders, which simply serves to back my concerns. He prescribed me a new drug in eye drop form called Restasis. Apparently it's an anti-cancer medication which supresses and reverses the growth of aberrant or non-standard living tissue. This medication came out several years ago, before that my eye problem was fixed by either thermal cauterization of the tissue (YOWCH!), or surgical excision of the tissue (YUCK!). In either case there exists the possibility that this tissue will grow back, meaning that the Restasis is my best chance at resolving the problem without serious, costly, and dangerous eye surgery. Unfortunately it can take up to 6 months before it shows good progress in fixing my eyes. In the meantime I've got to live with the pain and burning every moment that I'm awake.

I know lots of people have things far worse than I do, but please allow me a paragraph or two of self pity, as everyone's entitled to it now and again. I've got a loving family that understands and supports me, long past the point that I would've expected them to, and I feel terrible that as I grow older I'm not able to look out for their wellbeing as I thought I would when I was little. I still rely on them more than vice-versa. As a child my scholastics were encouraged and I thought I would go into something in the hard sciences, perhaps be an engineer like my father. Now I can't even work at the local supermarket because of ineffectively diagnosed and insuccessfully treated gastrointestinal disorders, thyroid problems, emotional disorders, and autoimmune problems. It makes me wonder what happens when there's no one there to look out for me anymore, and truthfully that's a thought filled with such oil-slick black formless chattering terror that it wakes me from a sound sleep at night and makes me work as I do now, regardless of fatigue or failing health. It's the moments of silence in the dead of night that I fear the most, when the day's work is done as there is nothing else I can distract myself with.
Funny that the prospect of dying on the surgery table in the upcoming days or facing a long losing battle with cancer doesn't scare nearly as much as these simple thoughts of being alone and not having the strength to support myself. I wonder what that says about me. I'll try to keep up my posts to this site, as you may know my other blog is on hiatus as I haven't the time to sit down and read books or watch animes to review, let along actually write the darn things. In my spare moments I manage to jot down a few lines and hope to build a backlog, so please be patient with me.
As always I'll tell you that I make a small portion of my living with the revenue from the ads on this site. If you want to do me a favor that costs you nothing but a few seconds of your time, please click on one of the links on the top left portion of this page. They're all legitimate and quite harmless. Also should any of you like to comment or perhaps establish a dialogue, your input would be more than welcome.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How to Hurt a Guy Permanently

This technique is not taught in any self defense or martial arts manual that I know of. It was performed by a friend of mine when he was attacked by 5 men at once when he was out delivering pizza one night during my college attendance in Orlando. I happened to have been present because it was near the end of his shift and we were going out to a friend’s house afterward. Please keep in mind my very good friend (who prefers to remain nameless) grew up in inner-city Philadelphia and was attending college on a wrestling scholarship after having been the captain of both his middle school and high school teams. He could’ve disabled his opponent without doing him harm, but was disinclined to do so as he’d just had the side of his skull cracked in with a set of brass knuckles. As you can imagine he was a little angry at that point. I would liked to have presented a series of graphics for each step of this technique but can find nothing remotely approaching this online or off.

This is a defensive move performed in close quarters which will permanently cripple or kill your opponent, so unless you want to spend the rest of your life in jail it had better be a life threatening situation.

Step 1:
Step forward to your opponent’s right so the exterior of your right shoulder is in line with the right side of your opponent’s neck. Your chest should be pressed against your opponent’s at a slight angle as the two of you are not exactly standing face to face.

Step 2:
Grip your opponent’s right wrist with your left hand to prevent him from striking you with it. Snake your right arm forward over the top of your opponent’s right shoulder. Essentially your armpit should be placed over the top of the shoulder next to the neck with your arm hanging down over his back.

Step 3:
Reach your arm down across your opponent’s back to grip the inner curve of his left elbow, holding it back so he’s unable to drive his left arm forward. This is not so much to prevent him from attacking as it is to prevent him from catching himself in the next few steps. Just to recap, the back of your upper arm should be pressing hard against the back of your opponent’s neck while your hand tightly grips his left elbow and pulls it up and backward.

Step 4:
Place your right foot firmly atop your opponent’s left foot. Turn your toe outward to your right so the arch of your foot straddles his foot as high up near the juncture with the ankle as possible. Place your entire body’s weight on that foot to pin your opponent’s leg in place.

Step 5:
Fall straight backwards, keeping your right foot in place for as long as possible as you do so. Do not let your legs bend or bend forward at the waist, you want to impact with as much weight and momentum as possible, though you might tilt your head forward so as not to crack the back of it against the ground. Prior to your back a striking flat against the ground, drive your elbow back toward the ground, pressing your opponent’s head forward. If performed on a soft surface this technique may not be lethal, though it will still be crippling. If done on stone, concrete, or pavement then it will most likely kill.

There are two things which these steps do. The first involves placing your weight on your opponent’s foot. Because you are falling backward you’re pulling your opponent forward with you. Typically when falling forward the heel rises before the toes do, it’s just how we’re built. If this is prevented from happening by pinning the foot, the next joint up the leg will bend instead. In this case we’re talking about the knee. The only problem is the knee doesn’t bend forward, but it will when your own body’s weight combined with that of your opponent’s is multiplied by the acceleration of gravity. Essentially it shatters the knee, bending it 90 degrees in the wrong direction.

Let’s look at the placement of the arms now. First by pushing your opponent’s arms back he is unable to break his fall and is pulled along with you. Because your right arm and shoulder is pressing against the back of his neck his head is forced forward, making his forehead the principle point of impact upon falling, combining your body weight with that of your opponent’s. One of two things can happen depending on the degree to which the head is forced forward. If it is forced forward so far that the majority of the crown impacts squarely then the shock will travel down the skull and either fracture or break the bones of the neck. If the forehead impacts at an angle it will cause the front of the skull to crack open. In the instance when I saw this done it was the latter of the possibilities which occurred.

As the injured party had no witnesses, what with his thief friends running off at the sight of blood, it was me and my friend’s word against his. What’s more he was still wearing the brass knuckles when the police showed up, which just so happened to match the indentations in my buddy’s skull. Furthermore my friend had the pizza order which explained his presence in that neighborhood; the thug didn’t live anywhere nearby. The friend had a nasty egg on his head for about a week and the doctor’s refused to believe he’d retained consciousness throughout the entire episode, but the matter was quickly forgotten, likely due to a concussion in my friend’s case. He soon decided to work in a much safer line of work; campus security. He was about the only non-military student who worked in that department, having proven himself by flooring half a dozen of the other ROTC candidates for the job. He got paid much better and had police backup on call, though he saw less action in that job than he did delivering pizzas.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How to Perform a Samurai Karate Sacrifice Throw Against a Yokumon Strike

This guide will explain how to perform a Sacrifice Throw or Satemiwase against an open handed side chop referred to as a Yokumon.

Performing a Sacrifice Throw Against a Yokumon Strike
Step 1:

Allow your opponent to close the distance with you to striking range and attack with a Yokumon strike. This will be a horizontal chop with a palm open to the sky that comes in from the side and is aimed toward the neck.

Step 2:
Step inside of your opponent’s swing angled to the side opposite of your opponent’s strike. Swing your arm from the midline of your body upward and outward to land against the opposite side of your opponent’s check and jaw. The point of impact should be a few inches down from the elbow of your arm. Note that this strike is not meant to hit hard, though it can if facing someone actually intent on doing you harm.

Step 3:
Press that arm down and to the side, in so doing forcing your opponent’s head down and forward into a bowing position. Roll that arm around so that the inside of your elbow rather than the outside is pressed against your opponent’s neck. Clamp your arm securely around your opponent’s head to put him in a headlock.

Step 4:
Slip other arm under your opponent’s arm, the one which your opponent did not strike with, and lock elbows. Pull that arm up as high as you are able to elevate one side of your opponent’s body, both immobilizing him and forcing him off balance.

Step 5:
Sweep one of your feet against your opponent’s leg, the one closest to your body. Drop down and allow your back to straighten as you do so to safely fall to the ground, forcing your opponent into a kowtowing position to end the move. For those unfamiliar with the term, kowtowing is kneeling, bending forward, and placing both the forehead and hands against the ground in supplication. If you were facing a real attacker rather than practicing with a sparring partner, you can perform a slight variation which will be more effective in stopping an attacker. Instead of sweeping your opponent’s leg out from under him, you can anchor his leg in place by pressing the arch of your foot against his ankle or knee. This way the bone will break when you fall backward.

Tips & Warnings
Yokumons were known for being very dangerous as the chopping strike was aimed at the side of the neck and could result in spinal damage is successfully landed. The defense is called a Sacrifice throw because it requires that the defender drop to the ground alongside the attacker, sacrificing the advantage of standing with one's feet on the ground.

An interesting aspect of most sacrifice throws is how, by making only a slight alteration, a throw can run the gamut between safely dropping an opponent to the ground and killing him outright.

Most any technique in Samurai Karate has the potential to be very dangerous to both the attacker and the defender. For that reason take the utmost care when practicing this martial art, preferably under the watchful eye of a trained instructor.

Monday, December 15, 2008

How to Perform a Samurai Karate Choke Defense Against a Sword Strike

While this defensive choke was originally designed to counter an overhand sword swing, it's also quite effective against an opponent using a club or striking with a bare fist.

Step 1:
Allow your opponent to step toward you and begin to stab at your upper body and swing his weapon in an overhand strike.

Step 2:
Sidestep and step inward toward your opponent as his/her attack begins to let the attack brush past you. You must sidestep in the direction which places you outside your opponent’s range of attack, meaning his arm is past you and you are pressed at an angle against his back.

Step 3:
Lower your body at the knees in order to get the top of your shoulder underneath of your opponent’s arm. When pressed against your opponent the top of your shoulder should be wedged underneath your opponent’s armpit.

Step 4:
Wrap that arm up and around the front of your opponent’s collar. Do not worry about holding onto your opponent with this hand, which is not its purpose. Instead your arm should be wrapped around your opponent’s chest, terminating on the opposite side of his neck. Ideally the side of your arm just a few inches about the wrist should be pressed into his neck.

Step 5:
Grab the wrist of your arm with your other hand and pull both arms toward you to place pressure on the side of your attacker’s neck.

Step 6:
Press the foot of the leg furthest from your opponent firmly against the back of his heel to sweep his leg off the ground. Fall onto your side as you do so, pulling your opponent down with you onto his back. As you fall, increase the pressure against the side of your opponent’s neck as much as you can, twisting with the arm crossing the front of his chest. Make sure to hit the ground so that the upper portion of the arm wrapped around the back of the neck lands flat. If done correctly the force of the impact against the ground combined with the pressure you’ve exerted will break your opponent’s neck.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Original Stories Coming Soon

Hey all. I know I usually post an original story of some kind on mondays, but my new job is making me crank out 60-70 articles a week, so anytime that I'm not working is spent asleep at this point. My days off are pretty much spent trying to help out around the house to make up for not even seeing the rest of my family on weekdays. I've got a really good idea for a story and I've already gotten each scene description worked out and written, but it's quite a bit larger than usual so I might not be able to showcase it for a month or so if I'm lucky.

In the meantime I'll still be posting self defense articles that have saved my bacon more than once. It's a pretty varied group but I find that it's best not to allow oneself the complacency of focusing on one single martial art. I've not had any formal training save boxing and wrestling, however many of the techniques which I've outlined have been very useful additions to my repertoire and kept me alive more than once. I know that there are many people out there who have had better training; military, martial arts instructors, police, etc. But since I only ever fight to defend myself and my property I'm not likely to run across anyone who's had formal training either.

I'd like to take a moment to explain the importance of the defensive mindset. Many people who find themselves accosted for one reason or other are not prepared to act, nor are they willing to admit that the other person may attempt to do them harm. As a result they keep speaking when the time for words has past. It is critical to be able to recognize the point where words give way to action. If you can do that then you will be prepared to react to an opponent's attack. My own personal style runs toward allowing an opponent to do all the work. They yell, bellow, charge, and throw a punch or kick. If you're expecting it you can move out of the way, latch onto the offending limb as it passes, and shatter the joint with minimal force. If weapons are involved or drawn one must be pro-active. You're best bet's to get out of the situation alltogether, but if that's not an option one should immediately attack, focusing on breaking the joints or collapsing the windpipe.

I live in one of the southern states which has very lax laws about what sorts of weapons may be legally carried. When I was younger I carried a bowie knife on my hip as it was a good deterrent against most people who would think I was an easy target, being 6' 6" and 250 lbs probably helped a bit too:) However once I began to study various forms of martial arts I realized how easily a large heavy knife like that can be taken away or used against me. I thought about it for a bit and decided to go with a push-dagger. They are small, easily concealed, and difficult to be removed from your possession as there's no handle to pry from my hand.

The first push dagger was a little plastic handled razor about 2 inches long from end to end that I kept on my keychain. It served it's purpose when a man tried to carjack me when I was on my way to take my graduate school exams in Orlando. I'll tell you about that one at a later date. But the knife became chipped and blunt from general purpose use over the years. When I went to look for a new one a very interesting design caught my eye. They're called Hide Away Knives and the link to their site is embedded in the title. They're incredibly sharp and good for both slashing and stabbing. Essentially it's like having a talon in the place of your thumb. The really cool part is that with the loop that you stick your fingers through the knife won't fall from your hand if you open your fist. I've worn it while I was typing and not even noticed it was there. I typically keep it in a cross draw sheath on the opposite side of my belt so I can slash at an opponent's throat as soon as it's in my hand. Of course I hope I'll never have to use it, but it's better to have one and not need it than need one and not have it. I also tend to attract crazy people for no reason, meaning I've had more than my fair share of insane encounters.

In any case my new knife just paid for itself last week in an altercation that could've gotten ugly. I was in my car, a rickety old 95 Ford Escort with better gas mileage than most other cars I could afford, and was at the intersection leaving the supermarket with a load of groceries. Across the road is a drug store with an oddly shaped parking lot through which one must pass three stop signs before you get to the main road. I was just turning left when a brand new cream colored sedan (chrysler maybe?) comes barreling through all three stop signs and turns right, directly into the lane which I was about to enter. I was already in the middle of the road. I pull up short to avoid slamming into the side of the sedan, which means I'm heading down the oncoming lane playing chicken with a Jeep Grand Cherokee. The sedan was doing me no favors, slowing down and speeding up intermittantly so I couldn't get behind him or nose ahead of him.Finally I gun my engine and blow past him right before I slam into the oncoming Jeep.

The Sedan starts honking it's horn and tailgating me for less than a quarter of a mile until we hit the next four-way stop sign which leads into my neighborhood. When I get to the stop sign the guy in the sedan behind me pops out of his car, mad as hell and cussing at me. He runs up to my open window (I've got no AC) grips the driver side door and starts screaming at me. He's raving and ranting, practically frothing at the mouth. This guy's maybe on the wrong side of 40 with jeans, sleeveless teeshirt, beer gut, but big enough that he could prove problematic. He keeps yelling things at me like "What did you think you were doing?! Do you have any idea what my car cost!?" and things along the same vein.

I realize I'm at a severe height disadvantage with how low my car sits and it wouldn't be hard for him to get the leverage to yank me out of the car. I don't know why I didn't just drive away except I was fairly certain he would've just followed me and then been a threat to my family at home too. From my last experience in Orlando when I was subject to an attempted carjacking a police officer was kind enough to inform me that my vehicle is legally treated as an extension of my home. In Florida if someone breaks into your home, you've a legal right to kill them if you wish. The same goes for one's car.

Each time this guy paused for breath between verbal assualts I said in a clear voice "Get your hands off my car". I was doing my best to remain calm and so was giving him verbal warnings not to trespass on me or my property any further. I was also taking the time to watch his eyes and thinking of what I would do if he reached in at me.

As I expected his eyes narrowed and dipped to focus on the point which he was going to attack, my chest I think. Sure enough his hands come in the side of the window as he makes a grab at the front of my shirt. I just knew my luck was bad enough that we try something, so my hands were already near my lap where they could be raised quickly. I grabbed the back of his right wrist in my left hand while reaching for the push dagger at my hip with my right. I braced both my feet against the side of my door and heaved as hard as I could toward the passenger side of the car. I caught him off guard and just about his entire body above the waist was yanked in through the window of the car.

This guy's gasping and spluttering, unable to quite come up with new insults yet, too outraged or surprised that I was ready to fight back. I took the opportunity to place the point of my nice new dagger against the soft point of his neck right over the corotid artery. He stiffened when he realized there was something cold and sharp pressing into his neck and the color drained from his skin right before my eyes.

I'm still civil to him, but use my authoritarian tone of voice which has been known to cause small children to spontaneously break into tears. "Sir. Not only did you break multiple traffic laws in an attempt to cut me off, you have the gall to blame me for your own terrible driving. You've attacked me on my own property and there's not a thing Florida law would do if I slit you open from ear to ear. I've got things to do today and I'd rather not have to give a statement or clean your blood off these seats. For that reason I'm going to let you up, you're going to back away from my car, you're going to get in your own car, and you're going to leave."

He carefully nodded his head. I reversed my hold on his wrist and shoved him back out the window, which he was only too happy to do. I would've said his eyes widened when he saw the push dagger in my fist for the first time, but they were already as big as dinnerplates. He tried to walk back to his car as if nothing had happened, but his legs were shaking so hard it looked as if he were trying to dance. I took a few extra turns on my way home to make sure he didn't try to follow me, and haven't seen him since.

I realize that my actions were harsher than many people would say was required, however the best way to avoid an actual bloody conflict is with an overwhelming show of decisive force the second your opponent begins to attack. If he had grabbed me and dragged me out of my car, he might've had time to kick in my ribs or crack my skull. I may or may not have survived, but the only way I would've gotten out of it at that point was if I had permanently and irreparably injured him. This way he gets a scare and walks away without so much as a scratch.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

How to Defend Against and Disarm an Opponent Thrusting with a Spear or Staff using Samurai Karate

Despite what TV and film would lead us to believe, the samurai weapon of choice was not the sword, but the spear. The sword was a back up weapon to be used when the spear was finally splintered or destroyed. Because of this, Samurai Karate, a form a Karate developed by the Samurai class as a last-ditch unarmed self defense, focused a great deal on defending against and disarming a spear wielding opponent. Here is a guide on how to do just that. This technique is primarily practiced by martial artists and proponents of Samurai Karate. But there are modern day circumstances in which this technique can be of use. It is effective against any weapon thrust toward you that can be grasped without cutting oneself. For that reason one can use this method as a defense against attackers using makeshift weapons such as clubs, baseball bats, and pool cues.

Defending Against a Thrusting Attack
Step 1:
Allow your opponent to approach with staff leveled at you. In order to thrust properly your opponent will take a stance which faces you sidelong. Your own stance should appear no different from that of someone casually standing. Try to keep your weight balanced between both your feet.

Step 2:
Push off with your foot and sidestep just as your opponent begins his thrust and turn slightly to face him. When you sidestep, make sure that you step in the direction which keeps your front facing your opponent’s front. In other words if your opponent were turned to the side with his right foot at the front, which is most likely for a right handed person, you would want to step to your immediate right. This places the staff between the two of you.

Step 3:
Grasp the with your left hand out toward the staff’s head and your right hand gripping the staff’s shaft in between your opponent’s hands.

Step 4:
Push your right hand part of the staff down while raising the left hand part of the staff, using your opponent’s right hand as a fulcrum. This will force your opponent to lower his body in order to maintain hold of the back end of the staff.

Step 5:
Take a step back with your right foot, pulling the staff with your as you keep tilting it to wrench the back end of the staff out of your opponent’s right hand. Your opponent should still be holding onto the staff with his other hand.

Step 6:
Raise the right side of the staff and lower the left side of the staff in an opposite of the motion of step 4. Take a step forward with your right foot and bring down the right side of the staff in an overhand diagonal strike against the upper shoulder or lower neck of your opponent. Simultaneously yank back the left hand side of the staff to pull it out of your opponent’s hand. This motion, combined with the strike, should be sufficient to knock your opponent onto his back. In this was you have defended yourself and disarmed your opponent.

Tips & Warnings
This article is written under the assumption that the defender is right handed. If you are left handed then switch the indicated placement of your right and left hands and feet.

To avoid both harm to you and your sparring partner it is important to use a blunted staff or other item in lieu of a spear. Also both you and your partner should move at half speed to help prevent mishaps. A hard strike from even a blunt weapon can result in broken ribs or internal bleeding.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How to Defend Against an Attacker Holding a Knife to the Throat using Samurai Karate Seiza Technique

Before I begin explaining how to defend oneself should an attacker hold a knife against your throat while standing behind you I would like to make myself abundantly clear that such a technique, as well as any other defensive measure used when deadly weapons are involved, is a last ditch effort. If there is the slightest chance that you will come away unharmed if you cooperate with your attacker and give in to his demands then by all means do so. This technique, like any other of its kind, is not infallible and may result in your injury or death should you fail to do it perfectly or with sufficient speed. For that reason I'm explaining the steps one takes in this sitting position Samurai Karate defense measure purely for academic purposes. Those who study martial arts may find it educational, nothing more.

Step 1:
Begin by taking up a Seiza sitting position directly across from your opponent. Do this by kneeling down and sinking down to sit on the backs of your heels. Posture is very important so keep your back straight and place your hands at the tops of your thighs, elbows sticking outward. Your opponent should be behind you.

Step 2:
Allow your opponent to approach you from behind and place his knife against the front of your throat. For the purposes of this article we will assume your attacker is right handed. Simply reverse the instructions if your attacker is placing his arm over your left shoulder instead of the right.

Step 3:
Clamp your left hand over your opponent’s knife hand, pulling the hand down and pressing it hard against your collarbone to immobilize the knife.

Step 4:
Cup the elbow of your opponent’s arm in your right palm, pushing upward and forward. This should push your opponent’s arm forward enough to pull him off balance and give you an opening.

Step 5:
Rise up onto your right foot, keeping your left knee pressed against the ground. Push your opponent’s arm up and over your head toward your other shoulder while twisting your entire body to face him. Simultaneously bring your opponent’s knife hand, still locked in your left hand, down to the level of your left hip. The twist will force your opponent forward and down as it will lock his arm provided you maintain a firm grip with both hands.

Step 6:
Exert pressure on your opponent’s wrist and the back of his elbow to force him face-down to the ground. If you are performing this move not as practice, but in real self defense, continue on to steps 7 and 8 to neutralize your opponent and prevent him from being a further danger to you or others.

Step 7:
Maintain your grip on your opponent’s knife hand with your left hand. Hold the arm immobile with your right hand while pressing your attacker’s knife hand inward toward the inside of the wrist. Continue to do so until you head a loud pop. This will indicate that the wrist has either been broken or dislocated.

Step 8:
Reposition your left hand to be further down on your opponent’s arm, just below the wrist. Form your right hand into a vertical blade and bring it down hard onto your opponent’s arm, an inch above the exterior junction of the elbow. This will break the elbow, rendering your opponent unable to attempt further harm to you or others.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How to Defend against a Reverse Punch Using the Samurai Seiza Technique

Here is a guide on how to defend against an opponent attacking with a backhanded (reverse) punch or jabbing with a dagger.

Defending against a Reverse Punch or Stab
Step 1:

Begin by taking up a seiza sitting position directly across from your opponent. Do this by kneeling down and sinking down to sit on the backs of your heels. Posture is very important so keep your back straight and place your hands at the tops of your thighs, elbows sticking outward. Your opponent should be in a similar position, though for the purposes of self defense any sitting position will do.

Step 2:
Allow your opponent to rise up to his knees in preparation for a backhanded stab or punch. As he/she begins to pull back in order to strike, rise up to your own knees.

Step 3:
Shift your weight onto your left knee and push off with your right foot, spin your body back and to the side so you are now sitting sidelong to your opponent with your left side closest to him. Simultaneously reach out to guide your attackers strike forward past you, in the direction where you used to be sitting.

Step 4:
Grasp your opponent’s wrist firmly with both hands and twist his arm in a semicircle from your right to your left side. As you do so, put your body weight onto your right knee and push off with your left foot to turn and face the other direction. Doing so will generate sufficient leverage to pull your opponent forward and twist his body so he will fall forward, landing on his back. Do not release his arm as you are not finished.

Step 5:
Bend your opponent’s arm at the elbow forward and to the left to force your opponent to twist onto his belly, facing the floor. Reposition your body so that your knees are close enough to touch the shoulder of the arm that you are grasping. With his arm twisted and held completely vertical, your opponent is at your mercy. This is the point in a sparring match at which you would stop. For self defense purposes, if you were genuinely attacked, you would continue on to step 6.

Step 6:
Grasp your opponent’s arm firmly by the wrist in your off hand. Cup your main hand over the back of your opponent’s elbow. Exert sharp force toward you with your main hand and push forward with your off hand to snap your opponent’s arm. Finish your opponent by striking with an open-handed chop to the back of the neck.

Monday, December 8, 2008

How to Defend Against a Choke with the Seiza Technique

Seiza is the Japanese word for “Proper Sitting”. It is the at rest position which was traditionally assumed by the Samurai class. According to Bushido, a Samurai was expected to be a warrior both able and ready to defend himself and others from attack at all times. But there was a problem. It was considered very rude for a samurai to retain his sword in many friendly indoor situations. To this end a form of self defense martial arts was developed based on Karate, going by the unoriginal name of Samurai Karate. A large part of Samurai Karate was defending oneself while in the Seiza sitting position against unexpected attack. While Samurai Karate included many different defense scenarios, the specific group of moves also going by the name of Seiza, was of particular importance. Here is a guide detailing how to defend against an opponent who is attempting to choke you from behind while you are in the Seiza sitting position.

Defending Against a Choke While in the Seiza Position
Step 1:

Begin by assuming the Seiza sitting position. Drop down onto both knees, keeping them spaced a few inches apart and sit down on the backs of your feet. Place your palms on your upper thighs and keep your back straight.

Step 2:

Allow your sparring partner to approach you from behind, wrapping his/her left arm around your throat and locking it into place by grasping the inside of the right elbow. His right arm should be bent completely at the elbow, fist raised, in order to exert as much pressure on the throat and ensure you are unable to get out of the chokehold. Despite what you may think, as you opponent is standing and you are seated you have an advantage. Because your opponent is forced to bend forward and down to choke you, he is standing in a more unstable position and is holding you less securely than he thinks.

Step 3:

Grasp the wrist of your opponent’s left arm with your right hand. In order to wrap his arm around your throat, your opponent’s left arms should be bent at a right angle. Seat the outward jutting point of your opponent’s elbow into the cup of your left hand.

Step 4:

Push upward with your left hand while keeping your right hand containing his wrist firmly pressed against your right collar bone. As you push upward, also push off with your right leg, rising to place your right foot on the ground. This will give you the necessary leverage to pivot your body using the left side of your body as the axis. Pivot back and to your right to get your head of the choke and simultaneously force your opponent’s twisted arm forward. You should still be grasping his wrist in your right hand, pressed close to your collarbone, as well as his right elbow, which is now bent forward at an uncomfortable, though undamaging angle.

Step 5:

Pull your left hand down and to your left to bring your opponent down, it will help to bring him over your upraised right knee. From this position and the manner in which you are holding his arm, he should be flat on his face and unable to offer any resistance. For sparring purposes this is as far as you should take this technique, but as a method of self defense in a life threatening situation, continue on to step 6 in order to ensure your opponent will not attempt to renew his attack.

Step 6:

Ensure you have a strong hold of your opponent’s elbow in your right hand. It should be placed somewhere over your left hip area. Release the attacker’s wrist from your right hand and hook your elbow underneath your opponent’s lower forearm. From this position you have the leverage to dislocate the attacker’s shoulder by jerking both your arms upward sharply.

Tips & Warnings
While it is unlikely you will find yourself in the Seiza sitting position on a normal basis, the technique described can be easily modified to accommodate defending oneself from a more contemporary sitting position. However martial artists intent on learning and practicing Samurai Karate as a whole will wish to practice the described unmodified technique.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Rant on the Importance of Man

It simply mystifies me how people are able to go around with a sunny attitude about things and not see the fundamental truths to their lives. I’m not sure if they simply ignore it or are going around in some pink fog, oblivious of their surroundings. I suppose you have heard all this already, but most every night I scream in my sleep. One of my roommates told me this a while back, when I asked the others they all agreed. It made me remember some of the dreams I’ve been having.

Sometimes I’m being convicted of a crime and no one will tell me what I did. Other times I’m trying to warn people of danger but my throat is too dry to speak, or in a few cases has been ripped out entirely. When I try to write warnings it turns out the person I’m dealing with doesn’t have their reading glasses.

I feel like that quite a lot during the day too. Screaming in a room full of deaf people, shaking a coma patient, trying to wake him. It’s just so frustrating that no one seems to understand. The sad thing is that during those few lucid moments when I’m dreaming, I know exactly what the problem is, what the great danger is, but it’s like trying to catch fog as soon as I wake.

It’s like everything around me is so fragile, I constantly have to walk lightly or it’ll all fall apart around me. But most of the time what I really want to do is take a sledgehammer to everything man-made. To tear down what man has tried to erect. The walls that keep us protected keep out the sounds of time going by as we sit and work. The roof that shelters us from the elements cuts off our view of the sky, because when you’re under the sky on a clear day, its like God is looking right at YOU. And most of us squirm under His attention. We hastily try to put something in the way, to stay in our minds and reassure ourselves that we are in control.

I just want to rip all that down and scream at people “We are not the most important thing out there!” We are miniscule; in this world, in this universe, and under the eyes of God we are as dust. Yet we ignore this, we blind ourselves to it because it’s too much for us to handle. It scares us and makes us uncomfortable. We’ve always got to be in control and the very idea that there is something out there so damn big and old that to even begin to comprehend it is beyond our capacity is not something we can deal with. The only way we can even begin to learn is to face this head on, unflinching, and accepting.

But the very idea that we have no control sends us running back into our cubicles. All the concepts we live by are pointless and short-lived. Break up the stuff of the universe and grind it, then mill it to the finest powder, run it through the finest sieve and you’ll not find one atom of justice, one molecule of truth, one iota of honor. These and all those like them are man’s attempt to control reality. They are fleeting and shallow in the truest sense of the word.

The system’s fragility is so obvious it’s scary. Meant only to constrain and subdue. The idea of smashing it all to hear the sound it makes sends shivers down my spine. Let us live by acceptance of what we know in our hearts to be right. If a man steals then those who saw it punish him based on their common sense. If a couple separates then they’ll take what’s theirs’ and screw what anyone says. But above all, live knowing that mankind is no greater than any other species on this planet. We are all subject to the whimsy of fate. A hurricane doesn’t differentiate between a beggar and a billionaire. The concept of self-importance is pointless in a society where thousands will gladly take your place, however poor it may be.

I’ve most likely told you something you probably already know. So I’ll hold back the urge to begin punishment for mankind’s trespassing on this world a bit longer. But I can’t understand how other people can go around happy if this is common knowledge. Am I the only one who sees all this here? Are people just that slow to think? Are their minds so set on self-preservation and the propagation of the species that they can’t think for two minutes straight?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

How to Counter and Strike Against Upper Body Attacks in Samurai Karate

Countering a Shouman Strike
Step 1:
Allow your opponent to close to within striking range. Unlike many forms of martial arts, Samurai Karate does not require a starting position or stance as it would alert the opponent to the fact that you are actually ready to receive his attack. One of the most common attacks is an overhand strike, whether the hand is empty or contains a knife of club, the response is the same. Such an attack is called a Shouman

Step 2:
Take a quick step in so that your body is less than a foot apart from your opponent’s. This will get you inside your opponent’s swing. Catch the downward swinging arm of your opponent just behind his/her elbow using the V between the thumb and forefinger of your hand.

Step 3:
Perform a counter called a Mitsubishi Blinder with your other hand simultaneously. To do this, simply drive the heel of the palm into your opponent’s chin from beneath, forcing his/her head back violently. Your fingers should be high enough on your opponent’s face to dig at his/her eyes. Your opponent’s immediate reaction of course will be to protect his/her eyes and will cease hostilities.

Countering a Side or Diagonal Chop
Step 1:

Allow your opponent to close range to you just as before. Your opponent should prepare to attack with a side or diagonal chop of the hand starting from the outside of the body and swinging in toward the midline. Again this response is just as effective if your opponent is wielding a knife or club.

Step 2:

Take a small step inward and to the side away from the side of the body your opponent is using to throw his strike. Immobilize your opponent’s swinging wrist by latching onto it and pushing it away and to your side. If you are wary of grabbing the wrist of someone wielding a weapon, latching onto the forearm below the elbow is effective as well.

Step 3:

Form your other hand into a blade, and step in toward your opponent’s side. Chop down hard on your opponent’s temple just over the ear. The ear is a particularly sensitive spot and will elicit a very strong pain response in your opponent. If you believe your life to be truly in danger and feel there is no other way to get out of the situation but to immobilize your opponent, strike against the side of the neck with as much force as you can. Such a strike would likely pull and harm the muscles in the neck at the very least. Typically it would cause damage to the vertebra of the neck, something which cannot really heal and will likely impair the attacker for the rest of his life. For that reason you should think long and hard before using this attack variation.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

How to Execute the Arm Twist Technique Using Bushido

Bushido is a code that dictates the way that a Samurai should live every aspect of his life, how he should conduct himself in any situation. It was all encompassing. Bushido Martial Arts follows this same concept closely by generating a system of attack and defense for any situation. It is both intuitive and can be performed by anyone of decent physical health, regardless of size, age, or skill level. The majority of these techniques are defensive in nature, defending from an attempted attack or hold, immediately responding with a disabling attack or hold of your own. Many of these defensive techniques are still quite dangerous, resulting in broken bones and other permanent injury to the attacker. However some modifications can be done to ensure that these moves are effective at immobilizing or incapacitating the attacker without causing permanent harm. Here is a guide on how to defend against a punch or grab aimed at the torso with a benign arm twist.

Executing the Arm Twist Technique
Step 1:
Begin facing your sparring partner. Have him approach you and grab the front of your shirt as if he were about to strike you. Pivot inward on your right foot in order to place the back of your right shoulder blade against or facing your opponent’s chest.

Step 2:
Grasp your opponent’s wrist is your left hand, holding it against your chest. Use your other hand to push your opponent’s elbow above your head so you can duck your head under his arm as you pivot.

Step 3:
Hold onto your opponent’s arm as you turn so that you are once again facing him. Keep up the pressure on the arm, which is being twisted backward as a result of your pivot. The pressure will force your opponent to automatically bend forward, lowering his upper body in an attempt to relieve some of the force being exerted on his arm. It should be at full extension out to his side, with the elbow twisted to point directly upward.

Step 4:
Release your left hand and instead fit your opponent’s wrist into the crook of your left arm, fitting over your own elbow. Release your right hand and extend your right arm over the top of your opponent’s elbow so that you are able to lock your hands together. This is called a triangle lock. With one arm below your opponent’s arm and the other above, you can put pressure on the joint of your opponent’s elbow.

Step 5:
Take a few steps backward, dropping to your right knee, guiding your opponent face first to the ground. With his arm in the triangle lock he will not be able to resist. Press down with your right arm while pulling upward with your right. This will stress the joint of your opponent’s elbow, forcing him to concede. This should be sufficient to stop his attacks. Remember to exert pressure slowly and carefully. The goal of this technique is to stress the elbow, not break it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

How to Defend Against a Lapel Grab using Bushido

Defending Against a Lapel Grab
Step 1:

Allow your opponent to approach you and grab your lapel. Usually this is in preparation for a strike from the opponent’s other hand.

Step 2:
Place the palm of your hand atop the forearm of the hand that is grabbing you, just below the elbow. Hold it firmly, though you need not squeeze. Step forward and to your opponent’s side, the side of the arm that is holding you. Do this to both force your opponent’s arm to the side and slightly behind, pushing your attacker off balance. It will also get you out of range of your attacker’s other fist.

Step 3:
Snake your other hand beneath the joint of the elbow, on the arm you are holding. Step in to the side and behind your opponent, locking your elbow and your opponent’s elbow closely together. This will immobilize your opponent’s arm and keep him off balance as it is being twisted behind his body.

Step 4:
Release your opponent’s arm, even if it is still grasping your lapel. Clap the heels of your palms hard against your opponent’s ears from behind. This is both painful and disorienting. While holding the sides of your opponent’s head in your palms, dig with your fingers into your opponent’s eyes.

Step 5:
Pull your opponent’s head back and toward the ground to topple him backward. As you do so, raise your knee to strike your opponent on the back of the skull as he falls. This will either incapacitate or permanently injure your opponent, rendering him unable to attempt further harm to you.