How to Save Your Own Life: Every Day Carry (EDC) Items from a U.S. Marine

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Dear Brendan,

Let’s start discussing a new topic about everyday carry (EDC) tools and equipment.  I’m going to begin by talking about the two most common EDC weapons, these being handguns and knives. 

Our environment is fluid and dynamic in nature and thus requires that we adjust, adapt and not stay stagnate in the past.  We must stay current with our TTPs, EDC tools & equipment, and leverage past lessons learned as we move forward smartly in an uncertain world.  This requires that we develop and maintain various combative skills across the board. 

Hey there is no crystal ball that will tell you ahead of time what type of fight you will be in or life and death situation.  What are the odds you will never be in a fight for your life or be targeted by a criminal?  I’m not a Vegas odds maker so I can’t say for sure.  You and or your family could experience all or none of these types of attacks or situations.  This is why I suggest you take a holistic approach to cover down on a wide range of threats and situations.  It’s like the saying.., it’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.  I recommend the better safe than sorry approach, especially when sorry could mean the loss of your life or that of a loved one.  This is why I would advise you and anyone else not to focus solely in just one or two areas of combative arts.  I know there are some great firearms guys out there, but if you take away their gun they have little to nothing else to fall back on.  You never want to have a single point of failure.  We must also take into consider that we cannot always carry a firearm or a knife.  So what than?  It’s important to assess yourself, your family, your current capabilities, your limitations, to study your environment, be familiar with criminal/threat networks in your area, know their modus operandi (M.O.), current threat levels, and identify what are the most likely threats to you and your family.  Once you know this you can map out a smart way ahead. 

We should all step back and take a closer look at most likely scenarios that could happen to us and our families within close quarters.  The up close and personal range where you are within an arms reach of a threat/criminal, if he is not already physically attacking you or a loved one.  At this range bad things happen very quickly.  You can blink and things go sideways in a manner that you don’t have time to draw your handgun or deploy your folding knife.  So you damn sure better be prepared and ready to fight without any such weapons.   Do not make yourself dependent on your handgun, knife or any other weapon system. 

When it’s up close and personal where you can smell your attackers breath, there is no time or room for hesitation or doubt.  Remember there are no rules or such thing as a fair fight.  You want to give yourself every advantage that could be the best weapon available at the time or the best position to be in to finish the fight quickly.  You should always try to improve your position no matter if it’s getting outside his elbows, creating distance, getting to cover or off the “X”.  If you find yourself at a bar/restaurant and one or two guys are on one side or both sides of you the best course of action could be to use a long neck glass beer bottle, or a heavy glass ash tray on the bar if available to you.  You may have to work to transition to your handgun or knife later in the fight.  This also gets into multiple attackers, which I will address, in a separate piece to you.  This all falls into our modern combative concepts training.  Your thought process should be fluid and progress to other TTPs that best position you to finish the fight and often times the situation or attackers will dictate your course of action.  

As the threat/attack continues to develop you work through the problem.  For the attackers actions will create windows of opportunity or expose them for you to finish the fight.  You will consistently be positioning yourself to exploit their movements, timing, distance, and seize any opportunities to strengthen your position or weapon systems.  It is during these moments of transitions from empty hands to an edged weapon (knife) or handgun that you may notice a shift in the fight.  Remember to assume everyone is carrying a weapon. 

It’s important to note that when I’m talking about combative concepts or EDC, that I’m integrating everything into a fluid form or combative arts that flows from empty hands, to various weapon systems, multiple attackers, various environments (the street, car, bus, bar, restaurant, parking lot, weather, clothing, etc.). 

The handgun and knife is simply a natural team of tools that is common to many peoples EDC.  But it is how a person integrates them and uses them that make them so dynamic and effective across a range of scenarios and threats.  To put this into context it’s much the same, as we know many people own M4 long-guns.  The difference is does the M4 run the operator or does the operator run the M4?  It’s the same regarding UAV platforms.  It’s not usually the platform it self that makes it so unique or capable, rather it’s the type of sensors and how the platform is operated that makes it such a great asset and tool that enhances various operations.  Think of your EDC as force multipliers.  I will write you another piece on EDC at a later date.  Please also feel free to contact me directly regarding any of your EDC questions or requirements. 

Okay let’s get back on target.  A knife or a pistol by itself is a solid tool/weapon.  However a knife and gun combo is truly powerful and increases your capabilities.  You need to train with them individually and together.  These can be used together like a joint weapon system.  They can be used as impact weapons, less lethal and lethal applications.  Your knife or knives could be folders or fixed blade.  You could carry them in your pocket with a pocket clip as most do.  Or you could carry a fixed blade in an inside the waistband (IWB) sheath or as a neck knife.  You have to find the carry method that works best for you and train to develop muscle memory.  You will enhance your fine and gross motor skills through your training.  I will also discuss knives and edged weapons in greater detail as we progress in our training.     

The situation at the time will likely dictate which tool/weapon you use.  Like the old saying you want to use the right tool for the right job.  A knife was man’s first tool and there are almost endless options that you can use a knife.  You need to develop both your strong side and weak side or right hand and left hand. 

For your handgun it’s important to know that shooting is a perishable skill that must be maintained.  It should be a critical skill and core fundamental that you can fight/operate your handgun and knife with either hand and from either side.  Please note that once you have deployed a knife/edged weapon it’s best to keep it out.   It can be difficult to secure a fixed blade or even a folder during a combative situation.  Both require the development of weapon retention skills.  We have all heard of the stories on the news and in the papers about police officers shot with their own firearm or a victim lost his/her weapon during a struggle with an attacker/intruder and was shoot with their own gun.  Put in the time and focus on real world training so you do not become another sad statistic.

Let’s close this by looking at the bang for our buck in regards to truly integrating our EDC handgun and knife.  As you engage a threat/attacker at close quarters range with both a handgun and knife, it will become a game changer.  I’m not talking about combative grappling with a handgun or knife.  However we do provide combative grappling training that includes handgun and edged weapons.  Although here I’m talking about causing the most damage with both tools/weapons in a limited period of time and space in order to break contact or engage other threats.

It’s your understanding and ability to target and fight with both tools/weapons that’s critical.  There is some overlap, although it requires you to know how to fight/operate each tool/weapon (knife and pistol) individually and together as one.  The self-defense capabilities and combative effectiveness of those who know how to fight/operate with both tools/weapons is impressive.  There are many people that have mastered either combat pistol or combat knife skills, but to bring the two together is the ultimate in modern combative arts. 

When all is said and done you nor I can know for certain what type for fight or threat you or your family may face in the future.  However you can control the skill sets and tradecraft that you and your family focus on to develop a razor sharp edge.  I want to give you and your family an unfair advantage against any threat/attack that is likely to come your way.  I hope this highlights the importance of being able to employ both a knife and handgun together as not simply practical for EDC, but that it’s extremely effective.

“Amateurs train until they get it right.  Professionals train until they can’t get it wrong.”

“We are what we repeatedly do.  Therefore, excellence is not an act.  It is a habit.”

TRAIN-FIGHT-WIN

-Travis