24 September 2012

You will be attacked with what they carry

Over the last several months, I have been working a few shifts at a popular Baltimore club while researching our Contact & Control for Bar Staff course.  We have a bar upstairs, a bar downstairs, as well as a concert venue where we have shows with 300-400 people 6-7 days a week.  The club is best known as being a punk/metal venue.
Recently, I was asked to work the door and do searches for a show.  This is not something we do all the time, but there had been problems with this band’s show before.  It was more or less the Occupy Wall Street crowd.
Just before the doors opened, I put an empty National Bohemian Beer box next to the podium to hold contraband.  Once the doors were opened, I had each person one at a time step forward and would tell them to face me, put their arms straight out to the side, and say “do you have knives or any other weapons in your pockets that I need to know about before I search you”.  I had to add knives in addition to any other weapons after several people said they did not have any weapons and I found a knife on them.  I believe, they, like many, did not view their knife as a weapon.
Going through this drill with several hundred people during the night led me to the following findings-
All knives seized were folders, nothing over a 3 inch blade.
The vast majority of knives were carried clipped to, or inside the front strong side pocket, with a few inside the back pocket.
A guestimate would be that about 90% of people were right handed.
Most knives were junk, but a few were decent Spydercos or Benchmades.  Those who were over 21 were given the option of putting their knives back out in their vehicles or stashing it somewhere outside.
I did seize one OTF auto out of a kid's back pocket.  It was a cheapie but actually fired as well as a quality one.  That was the first auto I have seized in my 20+ years in the career field.
Many of the attendees are what we refer to as “Travelers” or “Crusties”.  Personal hygiene is not their first priority and they just kind of travel around scraping money together for food, drugs, alcohol, and concert tickets.
Like most of the other street people I have encountered, they are usually armed with one or more knives for protection from other street people.
In the past, I have written about the edged weapons that good guys and bad guys carry.  In the case of bad guys, my research has shown that whether in or out of prison bad guys carry small, easy to conceal edged weapons.  As a matter of fact the average length is less than 3 inches, and that is skewed by the large number of screwdrivers they carry on the outside. There is way more money to be made stealing cars and breaking into places than stabbing people.
It is not surprising that across the board tools are carried out of convenience first.  They instinctively know that the most important thing is dedicating yourself to carry they tool all the time.  The next consideration is ensuring that you can get it out when you need it. 
A metaphor here would be how police decide what level of armor to wear on the street.  This is done by researching what rounds are they most likely to be shot with, including their own service weapon.  For the most part, it will be handguns.  That is why you don’t see officers on patrol wearing heavy ceramic plates designed to stop rifle rounds.
We need to use the same paradigm for edged weapon training.  First, acknowledging the fact that the size and type of edged weapons carried are naturally going to be the ones we will most likely face.  Second, taking into consideration that because of the size of the weapon, lighting, and range we will likely never have the opportunity to see the weapon before we feel it.  And lastly, making a commitment to realistic training against the mechanism of the attack, and not becoming fixated on the tool.
Move to the outside
Control the offending arm
Attack the Central Nervous System and Structural System until the there is no longer a threat

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