Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Being pushy

I'd been looking for a knife to fill a specific niche; the nasty backup.

The nasty backup is something you might carry in a questionable area (or all the time if you please) that will stay on your body, be easy to use in compromising positions, and give you enough time to escape.

Enter the Cold Steel Urban Pal, commonly available for under $20!

Small enough to be hidden easily in a boot, waistband, or on a chain around the neck. The grip is a bit thick, but that is not really negotiable for a knife such as this. It's still small enough to pass a cursory pat down. The sheath has a very good friction hold on the blade, and the holes around the edges mean you can tie, clip, or pin this wherever you want.

Ready to be pulled out in a hairy situation to turn the tables on attackers for long enough to get away.

Here are some swipes at a leather couch.

Very unlikely to be lethal, but one of these across a chest, or down an arm will probably make an attacker think twice before continuing the assault. A strike at the forehead would have no chance of incapacitating an attacker, but the tremendous amount of blood that pours from a head wound would easily blind. The beauty of the push dagger is that it doesn't require any special training to use effectively. Training can always improve, but it's pretty hard to fuck up with one. You have been using your hands all your life, and it's easy to put your fist wherever you want without having to worry about weapon retention or injuring yourself.

An edged/puncture weapon is a force multiplier in any hand-to-hand fight. Punches to non-vital areas would normally have little effect, but with the urban pal you're bringing the surprise of pain where there should have been none, and the sight of blood to an attacker who is not used to seeing his own spilled. Take advantage of the surprise, confusion, and maybe even fear, to make your escape.

The Cold Steel Urban Pal is technically a fixed blade, and some states have laws regarding push daggers specifically, so be sure to check your local laws to make sure preparedness doesn't get you tossed in jail.


Tony said...

"Very unlikely to be lethal, but one of these across a chest, or down an arm will definitely make an attacker think twice before continuing the assault."


In real world knife use situations, those injured with a knife are sometimes totally unaware of that fact during the fight. Relying on the "that's gotta hurt!" school of thinking has never seemed like a good idea to me. A lot of things hurt - when you're not pumped full of stress hormones and possibly drugs. In a fight, a persons perception of their surroundings and their pain tolerance can be quite different. What hurts does not necessarily stop - especially in a situation like a fight.

Granted, a small knife can do a lot of damage, and push knives can be quite nasty. Something about that sentence just struck a wrong chord with me.

Fletch said...

Noted, Tony. I've changed the word "definitely" to "probably."

I will do no more because I think we're on the complete opposite side of the "Yeah, but what if the guy is on PCP or very determined or drunk or actually an alien from Rigel3 and is impervious to all blades but those forged from the xanthium harvested from the core of the third moon of Jupiter or what if he's just really fat?" argument.

I agree that sometimes assailants pumped up on only adrenaline can feel no pain, but other times they're just looking to make a quick buck off an easy mark, or prove to you that their sports team is the best after you leave the bar. To read a post about a specifically undersized push dagger, and pull out an argument usually reserved for threads titled, "OMGWTFBBQ Police shot him over 9000 times with .40 and he was still fighting!" is just silly.

So for those of you who take every word I write as gospel instead of with a grain of salt;

The only way to reliably stop an attack is to disable the attacker's ability to continue fighting. This is best accomplished by high velocity projectiles applied to the medulla oblongata. Other options are equally acceptable, such as severing the head using a ZOMGKATANA, destroying the body by calling in a hellfire missile strike, or vaporizing the assailant completely through use of nuclear weapons. There is always a chance that your assailant is a cyborg from the future sent back to kill you before you become leader of the human resistance, therefore, always deal with every attack with the nuclear option; from goading drunkard to heavily armed drug runners.

Tony said...

Sheesh. Over react much?

Fletch said...

I'm sorry, I was under the impression that by raising a valid point, making your comment more than a few short lines, and the absence of a smiley face at the end, you actually intended for me to take your comment seriously.

I operated under the assumption that you had a legitimate complaint about how the post was written, a complaint with which I partially agreed, so I made a change to the wording of the post, and expanded on my reasoning behind it.

I agreed with you that the wording of that sentence was technically wrong, but thought that the argument had little place in a post about an intentionally small push knife. The counter-argument to this was obvious to anyone who has ever pondered self-defense what-if scenarios on an internet forum, "ALWAYS ASSUME THE WORST OR YOU'LL DIE A HORRIBLE DEATH!!!11" So I poked a bit of fun at the argument before it had the chance to be made by you or anyone else. It was technically unnecessary, but you'll have to forgive me because my snark chewed through its leash long ago.

I try not to ignore valid points, but I try even harder to explain myself. I will not conditionally agree with you without explaining why and how I agree with you.

If you were expecting a simple "You win, I'll change it." you've come to the wrong shop.

Please do not mistake my argument or snark as hostility, I leave my posts open to comments because I enjoy a good argument, and like having my mind changed.

Tony said...

You weren't being hostile? Blimey, could have sworn you were.

Well, if you don't mind differing opinions, I'll give you mine. Sorry about the delay, I haven't had the time to sit down and write this until now.

When I mentioned the lack of immediate response from knife wounds, I did not have some stereotypic PCP junkie in mind, rather the after action reports I have heard of from just plain regular (and yes, sober) guys who've taken knife wounds and only found out about it sometime later when they start to wonder where all that blood came from. You don't need some PCP snorting alien from Rigel3 to be equipped with glands that secrete stress hormones, that's build into just plain old human beings - even the bad guys.

You seemed to me to be discussing using this blade as a less/non-lethal tool. I would like to encourage you to think about this again. I am not saying one should not carry a small knife if circumstances permit nothing bigger. I am not even saying that, if used repeatedly with as much power and vigor as possible (in combination with other close quarters techniques of course), a small knife like that can't stop an assailant - small knives can really make an ugly mess of someone. But knives really are more suited for turning someone into a döner kebab in a desperate situation than a less-lethal tool. They tend to be considered lethal force in courts, for one. And even if we were to ignore the legal aftermath (in some locations, there just are no legal means of self-defense available after all) a cut meant to maim, not kill, can have lethal consequences - just probably not right away.

If you are convinced you are dealing with a non-committed opponent and need not resort to lethal force, would not something like pepper spray be more in order?

Mike said...

I have to agree with Tony about pain response. I've heard plenty of after-actions from people who have been cut and even shot who didn't realize it at the time. It's not everybody, but it's enough that I won't rely on it. My personal experience with pain in stressful situations is that I either typically don't notice it under the adrenaline, can just ignore it, or it actually pisses me off more.

IMO, a push-dagger is a very good defensive tool for the reasons you mentioned plus a few more:

The design's ergonomics mean that there is very little fine motor control needed to use the knife effectively. You grip it in your fist and you punch where you want to stab.

I don't really see them as much of a slashing weapon, though - the reach is kind of short for a slashing knife (at least on the model you showed), and I'm not a big fan of slashing in the first place. It's slower and overall does less damage than a good stab will. There's a reason why the Greeks and Romans scoffed at using the edge of a blade... Not to say that the edge doesn't have its place in self-defense, it does since it can be used to sever muscles. But a good stab with a push dagger to some of the same areas will have a similar effect.

Just remember, this isn't really a weapon intended to be used with finesse, and I don't think that finesse will really make it more effective. It's meant to be shoved between ribs, into eye sockets or slammed into a throat for quick and dirty conflict resolution.

Fletch said...

Tony, I read your comment and thought about it for a few days, and realized that I really was treating the small push dagger as something of a less than lethal option. I'm not a huge proponent of less-than-lethal, since less-than-lethal means you weren't in fear for your life. I wanted to present it as a last-chance backup, but I think I got caught up in the idea of slashing when I saw the couch. The more I think about it, the more I'm inclined to agree with you. Mike had the right idea, a tiny push knife must be used where it will have the most effect to balance it's small size. A full sized knife can be pushed into almost any spot on a torso, but a small blade has more limited options. Neck, eyes... armpit (brachial artery)... huh... I actually can't think of many useful areas you can get to with such a short blade without being very close. Maybe that's the point? You've got great weapon retention, just throw yourself at your attacker, and hit the neck and face hard? What are both of your thoughts? Or does this weapon need to be replaced with something longer for more viability?

Fletch said...

You know, the neck is not easy to get to when someone is fighting (by design, heh), nor is the armpit, if the only easily accessible areas are the eyes and possibly forehead (for a blood-blinding slash), you can attack the eyes just as easily with your thumbs. It might be easier to get a closed fist through defenses to an eye than an open hand with fingers that can be caught, and pulled, but honestly, it's not much more... Keeping a tool that only slightly improves your chances of success of a single attack seems like more trouble than it's worth...

Tony said...

I wouldn't worry too greatly about range - violent confrontations of the sort where knives are useful tend to be rather short range affairs, as far as I've understood (ie.what people who have more experience about these things than me have told me :) ). You will probably be close to your opponent regardless of whether you want to or not. My objection was more for the methodology advocated, than the weapon itself. If the blade is inserted forcefully, compressing opponents tissue, and ripped out, it can make surprisingly large wounds.

That said, it is on the small side even for a close range knife. Personally, I would be happier with a somewhat bigger blade, if possible. Definitely go with fixed blade if you're looking for a dedicated defensive weapon.