23 August 2016

Knuckles 101 Part I Selection, Carry, Deployment, & Use

The following article is for informational purposes only.  With few exceptions, the impact tool commonly known as brass knuckles or knuckle dusters are prohibited for carry by state and local laws.

There are basically only two types of weapons; edged and impact, both by design and improvised.  Even a bullet is a hybrid that goes really fast.  The three primary ways to cause trauma to the human body are burning, cutting, and crushing.  Injuries, both from accidents or from interpersonal violence, are largely from contact with objects and surfaces, usually  blunt force trauma.  These injuries effect mostly the central nervous systems and the structural system of the body.

The study of Combative Anatomy reveals that the fastest way to stop the aggressive action of another is by counter attacking their central nervous system with personal weapons i.e.; fists, elbows, and knees or impact weapons such as pens, flashlights, knuckle dusters, saps, and blackjacks.

For the sake of this article we will be focusing on the use of "brass knuckles" or "knuckle dusters".  Their effectiveness comes not from the weight of the material they are constructed out of, but more so their ability to concentrate energy on a small area increasing trauma by taking advantage of efficient or "natural striking".  More on that later.

Selection- collecting "knuckles" is a great pastime for close quarter combat weapon enthusiasts.  There are many designs available, both old and new.  Years ago I designed what I consider the perfect set of knuckles called the Jaw Jacker, which are still available from Alpha Innovations.  They are made out of polymer, and have rounded protrusions on the top of each of the four knuckles and on the top (thumb side) and bottom (pinkie side).  Also incorporated into the design is an innovative "leaf spring" that flexes during contact during a strike.

Classic knuckles are made of just about any metal available to the maker at the time, brass
Knucks recovered from a suspect I picked up on a warrant.
He told me he had been using them to jack other drug dealers.
Notice the padding added after he injured his hand using them
the first time trying to wear them as rings. They are too big on me
and he was much smaller than I am.
obviously being very common.

Many often complain that they have never been able to find knuckles that fit them. This is because they are trying to wear them as “rings”.   This is not how they were intended to be used.  They are intended to be worn between the first and second knuckle placing the palm brace in the meat of your hand.

If one was to wear knuckles ring style and had the occasion to strike a hard surface, it would likely result in the fracture of one or more fingers or other bones of the hand.  For those who have been unfortunate enough to experience hand fractures from striking people or objects, they will tell you just how fast the swelling begins.  Sometimes almost instantly.  If this were to occur, the knuckles would be stuck on your hand and would most likely have to be cut off.

Today, many of us who make the carrying of weapons part of our daily routine will probably never have the time or opportunity to use them.  Unless you happen to have something in your hand at the time of the attack, your initial response will be open handed, and from there most likely a handgun if so armed. As a matter of fact, I am of the mind that if you have to use any force at all during a situation that your awareness and avoidance skills have failed you.  Of course this is not accurate for the cop on the street who is initiating contact.

The good guys and bad guys of the past who led to the outlawing of once commonplace tools of knuckles, saps, and jacks used them often.  My point is that had it been common practice to wear them as rings there would be more stories about injuries to the user than that of the effect on the person struck.

So for academic purposes only, a set of knuckles should be selected based on how well they fit between your first two knuckles as well as the palm brace in your hand.  Ideally they would not be too big or too small for your hand…but just right.  Too small and they would be hard to put on.  Too big and they will give your fingers too much room to move around increasing the possibility of injury.

Jaw Jacker designed by George F Matheis Jr and manufactured
by Alpha Innovations.  This is the original prototype.  Production
models are black.
Carry- another reason why they were not worn as rings was because they were most often carried in the strong side pockets of the trousers or jackets.  I would imagine they were sometimes carried in the strong side back pocket for convenience.  As a general rule, tools for dealing with people problems should be carried between the pocket seams to the front.  Accessing gear behind the seams can be difficult from disadvantaged positions such as sitting in a vehicle or on the ground.  There is no doubt that many robbers carried them alone, but the cops of old carried them in support of their pistol, along with the jack, sap, or baton.  The ability to slip them on an off in the pocket one handed was important.  If you try to wear them as rings you will find that unless your hands are quite small you need your other hand to seat them.  The ability to slip them on quickly was important to cops and robbers alike.  The ability to quickly drop them back in the pocket before retrieving handcuffs was as crucial for the police as being able to ditch them somewhere was to the criminal.

Deployment- as with all weapons, the how and when to deploy is the missing link in the use of knuckles, more so now and them.  A cop could punch a fella in the face without repercussions and two guys could go at each other without the law becoming involved.  In both cases, the gentlemen of old were probably more prone to entering a physical conversation with a set of knuckles already in hand. That is not the world we live in today.  If you happen to live in a place where knuckles are legal or you improvise by using a large carabiner, you better be justified.

Probably got it right by accident.
Use- the #1 thing to consider with use of knuckles is that they seldom resulted in death.  The police of yesteryear did not have to concern themselves with ineffectual "green zone”"strikes on large muscle groups with impact weapons.  They used the knuckles, saps, jacks, and batons for a shot to the head, collar bone. or elbow to gain enough time to drag ne'er-do- wells back to the call box to wait on for the wagon.  Many talk about using the jab along with knuckles.  The only way this works is if you and the other person you are in close patterned movement such as seen in boxing.   As soon as you rush toward them or they rush towards you, human anatomy and physiology dictates your arms will swing.  This is why the roundhouse or hay maker is the most common first strike during a fight.  It is also why trained "knife fighters" who drone on and on about how you should stab in a fight will frantically swing when forced backwards.  Human nature takes over and the arms go out to the side for balance.  This hard wired natural protective response takes precedence over the attack from the front.  Deep down inside we know that it is better to be standing up during a fight than flat on our back.  If you have the time and opportunity to use knuckles offensively as a preemptive strike, you may be able to jab.  More likely you will be using your knuckles in fight and hammer fisting and "dusting" your attacker.  Check back soon for Part II- Knuckles 101 Efficient Striking later this week.

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