Know Your WW1 History: Medieval WW1 Trench Weapons

Medieval WWI Trench Weapons


The Brutal reality of Close-Quarter Combat in WW1.



The Combative Continuum

An Original Essay by The Tactical Hermit

As you journey through the world of self-defense you will ultimately discover that few combat systems are compatible. For example, you may have one stance you learned in martial arts and another you learned for knife, another for your pistol and another for your rifle.

Soon, your brain becomes jumbled and you have information overload. You would have trouble recalling any of these systems under normal circumstances, forget under combat stress!

We need to simplify the way we think about how we train.

We need one stance, any weapon.

We need one guard position.

We need to be able to access our weapon the same way and along the same line; stick, knife and gun.

Enter the Combative Continuum.

The Complete Arsenal

We have to build our system using the concept of the “Complete Arsenal” or in other words, ask yourself if ALL your skill sets (1)Empty Hand (2) Stick (3) Knife (4) Gun can “dovetail” into each other. You must always evaluate all facets of your training using this concept. The Combative mindset consist of simplicity and economy of motion. When we discuss empty hand strikes, we also talk about the elbow slash, because as you deliver a face smash, you are now “cocked” to slash with your opposite elbow. If we are talking about a stick, we discuss high and low line strikes, as a man cannot guard against both. With knife, we must understand the thrust is much more modular than the slash. With CQ Pistol, our footwork and how we present the weapon using our knife, can fold right into getting the gun into the fight in a clinch.

Part of the Combative process and arsenal concept is basing our tactics on an  understanding of the human anatomy. As we learn this, we find, especially with the knife, what tendons work what and which arteries when cut, can cause unconsciousness and death in under one minute. We find the location of certain organs, and the path bullets must travel to shut them down. This is also important because as this is a continuum, we must understand pain compliance techniques when less than lethal platforms are needed first ( a great example is the latest headline about the airline captain who flipped out in mid air). Learning a simple arm bar or wrist/finger lock could be helpful in subduing an unruly or troubled person.


Where most other “styles” are concerned, this is typically the most in-depth and complicated part of it. Not with the Combative Continuum. You will have one stance for all weapon systems. The catch is that you and you alone will be the one however to find it, nobody can teach you. It may take you some time to develop and find it: Don’t worry, you will!

Ask yourself these questions when selecting your stance:

  • Does my stance allow me to be as MOBILE as possible?

  • Does it allow ATTACK and COUNTER-ATTACK against any line of attack?

Don’t get freaked out by where to put your feet! The simplest way to look at this is your foot position should simply mimic your natural gait. Take a stroll naturally and then suddenly stop, look down; that is your foot position. The same thing goes for dynamic movement off the line of attack with pistol or rifle, walk NORMALLY! Don’t “groucho” or “duck” walk.


When we talk about the presentation of the weapon, we automatically think guns, but let’s think a minute here and use the complete arsenal concept. How do we present an empty hand strike, such as a face smash? Consider stance, how we “load” into the strike with our lower body and hips and the dynamic of extension with our arm through the strike. All these things make up the “presentation” of your palm striking somebody’s grill. If we substitute the stick into this equation, you will see how alot of the same traits are present; in particular, the “loading” or “cocking” action done with your lower body and hips. This is a distinct reason why combatives was and still is so effective and still taught widely in the military. It was a simple, brutal, gross motor skill oriented platform that did not depend on alot of memorization, only instinct and aggression.

Carrying the Presentation modularity a bit farther, consider the knife and the gun. I am of course taking into consideration not everybody carries their fixed blade knives and pistols/revolvers in the same position I do, but be open minded here and consider the benefits. The late and great Bob Kasper, who IMO, is the best resource for Combative Knife technique, favored the ARC/IWB position (Abdominal Rear Cant, Inside the Waistband). The OWB option to this position is Horizonal carry, 11 o’clock,  OWB on the belt. Here, the knife is mounted horizontal on the belt, so as the arms hang down naturally, all that has to be done is the garment stripped and a quick cross draw. I favor a Benchmade CBK or Blackhawk Crucible Fixed Blade for this. For pistol, I favor the AIWB carry, or Appendix-Inside-the-Waistband. I find this position offers the quickest presentation and best concealment for even a mid size pistol. When using these two carry positions, one can have a very simple manual of arms to access either knife or gun. Ensure that you have a solid sheath and attachment point in these positions, so if you have to run or get in a tussle, they will stay put.

Making Room

In his book “Sting of the Scorpion” by Bob Kasper (an excellent read and reference book for the combative knife student) Kasper tells why having a toolbox of practical unarmed combatives that dovetails into the knife platform is so important.

“Chances are, you won’t be able to draw before the assault. Based on old school jujitsu, the curricula emphasized ‘atemi-wazi’, or vital area striking with various hands and foot weapons. These techniques are geared for in-close fighting and will get someone off you in a hurry and allow you to draw your weapon.”

This dovetails into the gun as well; OC and empty-hand or improvised weapons strikes to gain room between you and the attacker so you can access and draw your weapon.

The standard “Reactionary Gap” that is taught to Police and Security personnel is recognized as 21 feet or 7 yards.

I have never been a fan of this teaching, as I find it impractical and unrealistic.

In a perfect world, we would like to keep people at twice this distance, but you simply cannot do it. We have to get close to people in our everyday lives, no way around it. The only way to prepare for this is to always carry OC and have a simple set of strikes and kicks to make distance. The best mentality is always be prepared to strike and get off the line of attack, gaining enough distance to present a weapon into the fight.

The Vertical Shield

The vertical shield can also be called a “Default Position”, simply because it should be the format your entire body follows (along with your stance) when attacked or you feel threatened in any way. The Shield covers vital parts of your left side with your weak hand, which is the side of your body likely to be attacked in a head-on assault.

There are several shield positions promoted currently, but the one I use is a hybrid of Bob Kasper (“Sting of the Scorpion”pp.31)

“Place the fingertips of your “non dominant” hand (not weak hand, as you do not have any body part that is weak, just one you don’t use as much as the other!) lightly on your left cheekbone (right if you are left handed). Then take your left elbow and pull it into your torso until your biceps are lightly touching your pectorals. This hand/arm position not only shields the vital areas on the left side, but it also withdraws the limb out of harms way.”

The hybrid of this shield switches from guarding your vital’s with your arm and elbow (in a knife situation) to protecting the head. All you do is instead of resting your fingertips on your left cheek, moving the left hand up to where you are lightly grabbing the back of your head. This forms an elbow guard which will protect you from getting knocked out. Not saying you won’t take some licks, but it will keep you on your feet until you can pump fist, steel or lead into the attacker.

Linear Line Concept

A linear line is simply a straight line from your hand to the target, this applies to empty hands strikes, the knife thrust and full extension with the pistol. The path to target, no matter the weapon, is the same. Linear strikes with empty hand are akin to the jab, palm strike and face smash. With the knife, they are harder to see than say a hooking attack and they also more accurate and strike deeper. The key is a linear attack does not telegraph it’s intent, it is a quick strike; imagine a cobra striking it’s prey. The rule to remember is that if you can punch the target, you can execute a knife thrust. In his excellent WW2 Combatives book, Arwrology, Dr. Martin Perrigard states there are two primary things to aim at to make a stab wound quickly fatal; (1) Large Arteries (2) Major Organs. This goes back to understanding the human anatomy to make our tactics and strikes as effective as possible.

Linear lines with the pistol deal with executing a full extension toward the target when it is APPLICABLE. This is always dependent on your proximity to target. When there is plenty of distance, having full extension gives you better balance and recoil control. That being said, a good portion of your handgun drills need to be firing from compressed ready or a compressed position of some type, as you never want to give your attacker a chance to lay hands on the weapon in close quarter situations.

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!

Self-Defense Issues: How are Your Grappling Skills?

In a recent video, a Chik-fil-A employee courageously jumps in to save a woman from a carjacking attempt.

In the video you can see the employee drag the carjacker POS from the car and then subdue him with a choke until the carjacker surrenders.

Regardless if you carry any type of weapon on your person for self-defense, you should always have a toolbox of empty-hand skills.

Some of the most basic and practical skills to have are Choke/Submission techniques from Brazilian Ju-Jitsu.

  1. Rear Naked Choke

  2. Guillotine Choke

  3. Arm Triangle Choke (Anaconda, D’Arce Choke)

  4. Triangle Choke

  5. Side Choke


There are also a SHIT TON of Clothing Choke holds that can be very useful, in particular the T-Shirt and Hoodie Choke.



You can never have enough empty hand skills folks!

Personally I think Street Combatives/Boxing combined with cherry picked techniques from all the major disciplines: Muay-Thai, BJJ, Krav-Maga and Kali offer the Armed Civilian the best chance, but as with everything in life, find what works for you and TRAIN HARD!

I highly recommend Southnarc (Shivworks) for Realistic Street Fighting Training.

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!

Over-Thinking and Under-Training


I have noticed a developing trend in tactical training blogs and forums: Trainers and Students “Over-Thinking” situations and by default of that mentality, putting forth energy toward the WRONG training goals and under-training on the skill’s needed.

Let me give you an example: At a recent “Active Shooter” class, the topic came up of shooting from behind cover; granted, a valid training topic and one that should be covered, but being this is an ACTIVE SHOOTER class, there are many more pertinent subjects to cover. Long story short, a couple of the students got waaaaay too involved in an active conversation in all of the various situations that could come up while firing from behind cover, including: shooting thru barriers, ricochet’s, the way FMJ and HP rounds behave thru various materials, etc. Needless to say, we got way off topic really fast and it cost the class valuable training time. Word of advice:  NEVER get bogged down with “WHAT IF’S” when you are training to win a fight. I am not saying they cannot be “theoretically” discussed, but speaking from experience, opining about what “MIGHT” happen in a gunfight is about as useless as a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest.

The small stuff will always work itself out, what the CO needs to focus on during training (and conversely to get the best value out of his precious training dollar) is the FUNDAMENTALS, because nine times out of ten, that is what is going to carry him home! So instead of arguing ballistic tables or round penetration test, do some Combatives training or Force on Force!

Now I know what some of you are thinking: “A man can only train on the fundamentals for so long before he moves on to more ADVANCED techniques and tactics.”

I would answer that by saying this: Those “Advanced” skill-set’s you are talking about, the “high-speed, low drag” type stuff, is simply the FUNDAMENTALS  sped up a notch.

This is what the saying “Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast” means.

When you have refined your skills to the point of being butter smooth, speed will come!

So to be clear, here is a short list of GUN FIGHT FUNDAMENTALS you need to routinely cover REGARDLESS of the “scenario” or type of weapons involved.

  1. Get in Decent Fighting Shape! Couch Potatoes don’t die from enemy fire, but from heart attacks.

  2. Train how you Live. Same Clothes, Gear and Gun.

  3. Hard Focus on ECQ Shooting >5 Ft. Distances

  4. 70/30 Dry to Live Fire Ratio. Fundamentals are Cemented by Repetition.

  5. DISPLACEMENT trumps Marksmanship. Must integrate Move and Shoot into 90% of your drills.

  6. Hard Focus on COMBAT ACCURACY. Fighting for your Life is not a Competition “Bullseye” Shoot.

  7. Use of COGNITIVE STRESS DRILLS. Learning to Think and use DISCRETION before you pull the trigger. Remember: “Every bullet has a lawyer attached to it.”

  8. COMBATIVE CONTINUUM CONCEPT. Approach your training with the “One Mind, Any Weapon” mentality. No matter the weapon (or no weapon) in your hand, you have a transferable, common structure set of skills to get you home.

  9. AMBIDEXTROUS Weapon Handling. No “Strong” or “Weak” Side. Gun Fighting is a Martial Art.

  10. SLOW IS SMOOTH, SMOOTH IS FAST. Strive to eliminate un-needed movements and tension in weapon handling and presentation. Speed will come.

  11. If the drill is not SAFE, REALISTIC & PRACTICAL, trash it! Fantasy Gun Training can kill you faster than a bullet.

Let’s be real guys: In this backwards economy, most of us are not Rockefeller’s and every penny counts! Those of you that budget for training the same as for weapons need to get every ounce of knowledge out of that instructor while you are there, and the Instructor needs to be ensuring that happens as well.

Remember #11 above! If the training you are currently receiving does not line up with these three very simple things, you are wasting your time and money and all the while, training yourself to fail when your life or the life of your loved ones may depend on it!

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!



“Listerine” Pistol: Extreme Close-Quarter Combative Realities

When we talk about “Listerine” Combat we are referring to that nasty “bad breath” distance fighting that takes place within 2- 3 feet of your nose. This can be empty hand, knife, stick or firearm. We will see that all of the Combative principles of each of these platforms intersect or duplicate each other at some point. Simply having a gun does not always solve your problem. A gun is not a magic “tailsman” it is only a tool that when combined with certain skill sets can get you out of a jam, one of those skill sets being Extreme Close-Quarters Combatives.

It is said if you want to learn something new, read an old book.

This is very true in the realm of Combatives. Without going too in depth, I would suggest any of the books by Applegate, Fairbairn or Sykes. The techniques these guys developed are simple, brutal and effective. Yes, the books are 60+ years old, but if you look at “modern” trainers in combatives, not much has changed, except some trainer trying to put his name or “brand” on it to make money. A Face Smash or Axe Hand to the throat  is the same in 1942 or 2022!

Brutality and effectiveness have a habit of going together in the same sentence, no matter the time period.

Having the pre-conceived notion you will have to get hands on with an attacker scares the hell out of a lot of guys. This goes back to the ideal that carrying a gun will keep you from getting into a fist fight. The entire reason some guys carry a gun is because they have some type of disability or are more “seasoned” warriors in age and don’t think they could stand up to a twenty-something thug intent on killing them. Once again, we have to do away with this persistent mentality of “having a gun solves all your problems.”

It is just not REALITY.

We have to be willing to sharpen ALL our skill sets if we expect to walk away from a violent attack. If we are willing to do that, firstly, we will be better trained than our attackers and secondly, we will have stacked the odds in our favor for whatever might happen.

There are several simple combative strikes that you can employ for what I call “First Strike”, or the strike that you employ to give you two crucial things in a ECQ Fight:  TIME and DISTANCE.

TIME to draw and present the weapon (gun/knife/stick) and DISTANCE to ensure weapon retention and the ability to wield the weapon and give you room to maneuver or escape.

There is a reason I say “First” Strike”; if you wait to be the poor sap who initiates the “Second” strike there is a strong likelihood you will lose the fight and at the same time, your life.

The Boyd OODA Loop dictates in a fight situation, the human brain does four things very quickly: Observe, Orient, Decide and Act.

In a fight, we want to interrupt or RESET our attacker’s OODA Loop, which will cause a lag in his response time, giving us the crucial seconds we need to win the fight. The ideal “First”  Combative Strike affects our attackers eyesight and breathing quickly and brutally, taking advantage of the old adage:

“If you cannot see or breathe, you cannot fight.” 


Some strikes I have used with great effectiveness over the years, is the Palm Strike, Hammer Fist, Axe Hand to the Throat and Face Smash. All of these will affect either sight or breathing or both. What all these combative strikes have in common is they do not have be dead-on accurate, technique wise, to be effective. The only thing they require is they be executed violently and with as much force as you can muster. It goes without saying, that Conditioning is an integral part of any Combat Training. I like working with a heavy bag 30 minutes a day on all these strikes. Once you have those down, you can move on to elbow and knee strikes.


 Once the strike is executed, you must have a plan of what to do next. Since this article is about Combative Pistol, we will assume you are armed and the attacker intends Deadly Force and must be dealt with likewise. If you were in the position of being unarmed, this is where your knowledge of extensive Civilian Operator “Dirty”Combatives would come into play. Either way, you have to respond with a violent counter-attack.


So we will assume the First Combative strike had good effect and stuns the attacker. I will tell you from vast experience, this is no time to “drag ass” on your part! You must act quickly now.

You have to keep in mind that since we are talking about EXTREME Close Quarters, there is a chance the attacker, although stunned, may be still right on top of you, in fact, I would bet he is. You must be prepared to strike as many times as needed; don’t diddle around, knock this guy’s ass in the dirt!! You will have to get out of the “Kill Box” from this position to enable you to draw your weapon and at the same time, retain it. There has been times, when no matter what I did, the guy would not allow me to get away from him, this will call for some Contact Shooting methods while in the “Clinch” or has it has been called by a friend of mine, the “FUT” (Fouled Up Tangled).

Since I am never a fan of stepping backwards in a fight, for the simple fact you can wind up on your ass, I recommend moving either to your 3 or 9 o’clock or to your obliques. Of course, you will have to make that call depending on the situation.

At these distances, Displacement Trumps Marksmanship!

It is more important to not get stabbed/shot than to shoot the BG!

While you are displacing out of the kill zone, you must at the same time, get the gun into ACTION.

Depending on how you carry your pistol (Stong Side IWB/Appendix IWB/Open Carry, etc.) you must drill regularly on the presentation of the gun, aka; “clearing kydex/leather”, quickly and efficiently with either hand while moving. (A cool piece of gear I have been using lately is the  Concealment Trigger Guard Holster). Several things come into play once the gun is out of the holster. The first is being able to fire the gun one-handed, with either hand. The Ambidextrous use of a pistol should be a mandatory skill; if you are not including that into your pistol course of fire, start ASAP. The second is being able to fire at anytime in the presentation process. The gun does not have to be in a certain position or in a certain grip to be fired during this time..all that is mandatory at these ranges is that the muzzle is facing the attacker.

In regards to sights, it has been my experience the best I can describe my “sight picture” (if that is what you want to call it for identification purposes) during my encounters was a “super imposing” of the frame of the gun on the mass of the attacker. Some have called this “Metal on Meat” Shooting, which is a great description.

Some will want to call this “Point” or “Combat” Shooting, I just call it “Shooting.”

There is no definitive “school” of thought you follow if you are truly a combat shooter IMO, it is a continuum of collective principles and techniques you call upon for each unique situation.

When do I use my sights? When I have too! I mean seriously, if a human being is 3-5 feet away from you, do you really need to take the time to align sights to get solid “combat effective” hits? Absolutely Not. Do I have to at 15 yards? Absolutely. At these close ranges, the power of the handgun round is exponentially increased, and you will find ANY hit in the torso area increases your odds of a STOP.

With all this being said, I would say 70% of your “live” handgun training needs to focus on ECQ and Contact distances.

Focus on the Fundamentals:

  • Displacement Over Marksmanship

  • Ambidextrous Use of the Handgun

  • Firing thru Presentation

  •  Super-Imposing the Gun on Target

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!