A Brutal Defense - The Fighting Attitude for the Disabled & Use of the Common Cane
...There is no fair fighting in a fight for your life or limbs...
by Cody Alderson
Civilians have a very difficult time understanding that a defense cannot be played out as if one is the good guy in an old western. There is no fair fighting in a fight for your life or limbs. Untold numbers of new concealed carry first-time class goers invariably have the fellow student who asks, "Can’t I just shoot him in the leg?"
By our very nature we are not of the same ilk as the sociopath who targets us. This very fact of our nature makes it difficult for the civilian, who most likely has never been involved in a life or death violent encounter, to take the appropriate defensive action unless it has been successfully ingrained by repetition.
Repetition of rote training of draw, fire, assess, as well as things like tap and rack to clear a jam. It needs repeated over and over again until the muscles have been trained to the point of being able to duplicate the complex maneuvers, the same as how repetition finally allowed us to successfully drink from a cup instead of a bottle with a nipple on it.
Repetition helps a fit civilian to begin to even the odds in a violent encounter, but the attacker is by default at an advantage simply for being the attacker. Civilians are further disadvantaged by (thankfully) not having to regularly endure life or death violent encounters. Direct experience builds points of reference to draw on and learn from for future events that may occur. A battle hardened warrior who has seen much combat has knowledge that a civilian does not, and hopefully never will, have.
A civilian defensive operator (my term for the civilian with a permit to carry a concealed weapon) who is disabled in one way or another is more disadvantaged than a fit civilian with no handicaps. The disabled are more likely to also be a preferred target of many a sociopathic predator.
A gun is a great defensive tool for many of those with varying degrees and types of disabilities. Of course a gun is a lethal or deadly force weapon that can only be used to defend one’s life in the event that one is in imminent fear of death or grave bodily harm. (This is based on my state of residence. The reader needs to know the specifics of law in his own jurisdiction.)
Though in theory a disabled person needs to practice defensive maneuvers more than most fit individuals to attain the best level of proficiency attainable, it is actually less likely that a disabled person will, in fact, practice more. The disability may prevent a regular regimen of scheduled practice. So for the disabled who are reading this article, let me encourage you to incorporate into your life some structured practice that is followed as religiously as possible.
Let’s put the gun training aside for this article and focus on developing an instant and explosive counter to an initial attack from a predator. Let’s say for purposes of this article that you can readily interpret the language of when the first strike is coming. For our scenario, you do have a holstered gun on your body but have not been justified in displaying it or using it yet.
We can’t walk or wheel around with our gun held in our shooting hand within the confines of normal public society. That cashier at the convenience store would be just as upset as your waitress at the restaurant if you tried that. And I know that the officer you may encounter won’t be happy to see that gun in your hand. But actually having a weapon in your hand is advantageous for repelling a sudden violent attack. A gun inside a coat pocket with that shooting hand in a proper grip is the next best thing, but even this is not a perfect fix to gaining an advantage. Actually, there is no "perfect" fix, but there are some that are better than others.
If your disability requires you to use a cane, this will be right up your alley. If your disability is evident or visible in public, then I do recommend considering the addition of a cane as an always-with-you accessory. Even if your disability has nothing to do with your legs, if you can incorporate the use of a cane, try it for awhile.
Not just any cane either. Try a regular wooden crook handle cane. No fancy handles, no metal with push button extension pieces, just plain wood with the crook handle. I’m trying to get a manufacturer to make one out of a particular polycarbonate that will look like wood, but take extreme abuse. I haven’t heard back from them as of the date of this article submission.
If you use a quad, or other specialty cane due to the particulars of your handicap, then you can adapt some things I’m going to talk about. The reasons I recommend the plain cane is that it gets through just about every security checkpoint easier than anything fancy ever will. Security is on the lookout for sword and other types of cane weapons, but a plain cane is just an adaptive device to enable the disabled.
I am a very big advocate of teaching defensive operators to not call attention to their selves. We should not want to look like the person who is carrying any sort of weapon. Oh I can hear it now. "What about looking dangerous to criminals?" Yes, there is merit in presenting yourself as aware and confident. But if you have a visible handicap, you are already higher up on the "pick me" list for criminals.
A cane in the hand of a disabled person is a weapon that can be instantly deployed. It is also very versatile. It can be used in a fashion to allow time to draw a primary weapon, it can be used in instances that a gun cannot, and it can also be used as a primary lethal force weapon.
I would really like everyone to realize that they aren’t as tough as they think they are, but I’d especially like . . . Oh how do I say this politely? I’d like all of us old, fat, handicapped guys to particularly realize it! Although there are most certainly exceptions to the rule, it is more likely that a twenty-two year-old hoodlum will be able to run faster, jump higher, and hit harder than a seventy year-old retired Buick salesman.
This makes the brutality of defensive response to a physical attack of great concern to me as I consider how one should respond to attack if he happens to be disabled to one degree or another. There are so many legal considerations I wouldn’t be able to address them here. Know your laws in considering what I’m about to say.
The defensive operator is the only one who can truly judge what to do if attacked. Laws are in place to judge those who go beyond what society has considered an appropriate response. The disparity of force issue comes into play when a disabled person is attacked by a so-called physically fit criminal.
I could fill a book with subtle dynamics of force response as could any person who teaches or discusses this stuff. So instead of selling you an encyclopedia, let’s just stick to basics. A muscular hoodlum punching an old woman in her face to take her purse could very well kill her with a solitary punch. That same old woman cracking her cane over the thug’s head may only raise a slight welt.
Sure there is the possibility of a freak accident happening where the old woman causes a concussion inside the thug’s head that could lead to his death, but statistically for the mentioned scenario, it is unlikely.
So let me just repeat instructions that I gave to my mom who walked with a cane, but did not carry a gun. She knew how to use one, but didn’t carry. I remember her racking a twelve gauge out an open living room window when two criminals were trying to break into the house through the basement door when I was a kid, but she didn’t carry.
My mom died a few years ago. When she became a frail senior I taught her what to do to up her odds of surviving a violent encounter by utilizing her cane. I taught her all about the more sensitive areas of the human body that civilian martial arts schools teach to avoid in sparring and training.
I taught my mom to attack the face of an attacker with as much force as she could physically muster. I taught her that blinding a criminal trying to hurt her with any sharp object, or even using her fingers, was more preferable to me than having to attend her funeral or visiting her in the hospital.
I taught her that slamming that cane up into the throat of an attacker in hopes of cutting off his ability to breathe was better than her getting her hip broken by him shoving her down onto a sidewalk.
I taught her to only go a bit lighter when hitting an attacker’s testicles for the simple fact of how the brain responds to trauma. When trauma is severe, the brain cuts off the full effect of pain. A smack to the testicles will allow more pain to be felt than what would be felt from a really hard hit.
The point is to cause pain to an attacker as well as to physically make it impossible for him to continue his attack. A disabled person has to be choosey about where they hit an attacker in the act of self-defense. Punching the attacker in the stomach would not be disabling if my mom was the one hitting the hypothetical attacker of my instructive sessions. Whacking his ears, elbow or wrist joints, bridge of the nose, or throat with that cane of hers would cause pain at a threshold high enough to allow small amounts of time to mount an even more aggressive counter attack.
A hard smack of a wooden cane right in the lips, at the temple, and at the base of the skull can work wonders to deter all but the most determined attackers. The problem was that my mom wasn’t strong enough in her frail years to inflict enough trauma to an attacker to make it physically impossible for him to continue an attack.
However she was strong enough to target and sustain multiple hits on an attacker who had not yet caused her any disabling trauma. She probably could have kept hitting for about thirty seconds to a minute under the influence of adrenalin. Couple that with screaming her head off, and she might have had a chance against some attackers.
So there it is. The disabled need to really put their all into hitting vulnerable pain causing, and disabling areas of an attacker until either the attacker gives up, help arrives, or a gun is successfully deployed and employed (if appropriate).
Having a weapon in hand at all times while out in public is of great benefit. And a plain old wooden crook handle cane that easily gets through most security without questions is a great tool to add to the repertoire. Even if you don’t need a cane, I’d still recommend considering the benefits of having one with you where firearms aren’t allowed.
If a friend asks why you have a cane at the school play, you can explain your need of assistance with that bum knee, ankle, leg, hip, foot, or whatever is causing some problems occasionally. No need to even lie because as we age stuff starts to hurt. If you are out among strangers, they have no idea what your handicap is or isn’t.
Seriously, have you ever wondered if that person you see with a cane actually is handicapped or not? If it’s not that obscure uncle who you know is scamming a disability claim, then we just don’t think about it. However we do pay more attention to fancy or quad canes by nature. That’s why I recommend the plain old cane.
A cane in the hands of a moderately disabled person can be quite an effective self-defense tool. In the hands of someone who is mildly disabled it is even more effective. Wrap a leather wrist strap around it so it can’t get knocked out of your hands. That’s the only accessory I would recommend.
The cane can strike, leverage, poke, hook, and so much more. It can help you back to your feet, and even help stabilize to prevent going to the ground. And it doesn’t take years of practice to be able to do a good amount of counter attack damage. Try one.
Think about how well it may have worked to whack a few nuts with box cutters who changed the way we look at everything here in our Great Land. A cane can be carried in more places and with less scrutiny than any other weapon. That’s because it isn’t a weapon until it is used as a weapon.