Thursday, June 6, 2013

Patriots and Preppers:

After my last post, I had a question come from a friend who reads this blog.  He asked what I was talking about with my mention of some preppers thinking they're "Patriots".  I figured I would jot down my thoughts on the subject in a follow-up post.

So, I read a lot of different survival blogs, a couple of different forums, and follow multiple Youtube channels.  One subject I see discussed quite often is this idea that people who are prepared should naturally consider themselves Patriots.  These discussions usually have the same sort of theme behind them, things like "having to take a stand against the Gubmint!" or "It's time we take our country back!" or "You have to be ready to stand up and lead your community and restore order!".

I don't understand what any of those things has to do with prepping.  In fact, most of the preppers I know, or have read posts/blogs by, all talk about things like "When SHTF, I'm bugging out to my BOL and hiding out until the worst is over!" or "When the zombies come, I'm totally holing up in my fortified home!" or "My family and I are going to be covered, and screw everyone else!"  So, when you have people who prep in order to survive...well, insert your disaster scenario of choice here, what is this assumption from internet people that preppers are supposed to take up arms and fight against the Government, or defend the populace?

I've since noticed that forum posts on this subject tend to become inflammatory as the Patriot chestbeaters argue with people who are asking this same question.  It's not unusual to see responses of "Well, if you aren't ready to do what's right for AMERICA, then you're just a coward, so go run and hide like one!"  The inference here is that the self-claimed "Patriot" is going to rise up and form an army with thousands of other like-minded individuals and...I don't know, march on Washington?  Skirmish with law enforcement, National Guard, or whoever is trying to restore order after a disaster?  I don't know, but the more I hear these "Patriots" talk, I'm pretty sure that they aren't any sort of patriot as I know the term from early American history.

And really, that's what kills me about the whole idea of "fighting back".  It seems to me these days that there's this huge culture based around the ownership and use of firearms and knives (and tomahawks, mustn't forget those) in the prepper community.  There are countless videos on YT about how to fight with a knife, or how to properly conceal carry a gun, or the best mods for your AR-15 combat-rifle lookalike.  There are countless posts on the forums like "What guns do I need for SHTF???!1?" or "What Rifle is most accurate at 1,000 yards!" or "Do swords make good SHTF close combat weapons?" and on and on and on.  All these people are so concerned with weapons, and fighting, and shooting, and blowing "zombies" or "looters" away.  Some even talk about how they can't wait for someone to break into their homes.  You know, I get it, I do.  I get that the idea of being an action hero like in a movie or video game is cool, where you have to duck for cover and fight an attacking wave of bad-guys with your AR, or engage an enemy in close-up martial arts knife/sword/axe fighting.  I understand that all of those things are exciting to people who lead lives that are boring or dull otherwise.   It's neat to day-dream about being an action hero right out of a video game or summer blockbuster flick. 

But you know, I think that's what our problem is.  In today's convenience filled world of shopping malls, cell-phones, cheap computers, stores full of cheaply made imported luxury goods, video games, and a constant barrage of entertainment media, there's no real fighting, strife, or conflict anymore (at least not in most of the country, if you live in a harsh ghetto urban area, your view might be understandably different).  In 99% of this country, you don't have to fight an enemy in order to survive.  Life is more easy for Americans than it has ever been  in the entire history of this country.  Hungry at 3:00AM?  No worries, hit up a drivethrough somewhere.  Decide you want to buy a new Bluray player for that 62' TV you just bought?  Just run down to Best Buy, I'm sure they have what you need. Decide you need some beef jerky, bottled water, and some cheap Chinese-made running shoes?  There's a Wal-Mart on your way home, how nice.

And that's the problem, I think.  Yes, I'm aware that I am speaking from a "pampered middle class suburbanite" viewpoint.  But the basic premise is the same.  Even poor people don't have to knife-fight their way out of a store with a bag of potatoes so their family can eat that night.  They swipe their EBT card, and walk out, and get into their big SUV with the $12,000 whe...sorry, rant for another time.

But seriously.  Think about it.  Human Beings spent thousands of years living in caves, and not being at the top of the food chain.  There was a real fight for survival.  Hell, even a hundred years ago, survival was a struggle for many people.  But today?  There is no real fight to survive.  Most Americans grow up having enough to eat, getting a free education (such as it is) from a public school before taking out loans to go to college, after which they graduate, and work a variety of jobs, none of which involve them having to fight for their lives.  If you lose your job, there's unemployment.  At the worst, you move back in with your parents, and you look for another job.  Life goes on...but you haven't had to fight anyone, or claw your way up from the muck.  Consider this.  Our poorest person is still in the 1% of the world's wealthiest as compared to the rest of the world.  That's right.  The poorest person in this country, there are literally billions of people who are worse off than you.  It's all a matter of perspective.  A homeless person can walk up to the side of a house or building, and use the faucet there, and BAM, instant access to clean water.  All that poor guy can drink, at least until he gets chased off.  There are places in this world who would literally do anything to have access to clean water, just spilling out of the house onto the ground like that.

Anyway, it just seems like the majority of preppers and survivalists have painted this romantic, dramatic idea of being armed and "ready for the fight".  So, I think that's why so many people on survival boards talk about being a Patriot who will "fight for their country" (and yet oddly, they don't join the armed forces, huh).  It's because their real, actual, day-to-day lives are so easy, and conflict-free.  Frankly, if you even own a (lawfully obtained) firearm, then an easy assumption to make might be that your life isn't that hard.  People generally do not think about firearms costing hundreds of dollars (along with ammunition that costs nearly the same these days) when they don't even have money for rent, or food.  So, most people posting online (internet access being another luxury that people in actual dire straights wouldn't have) really crack me up with this blatant cry for attention, with their fantasies of a life full of gunfire against a backdrop of explosions and a tense summer blockbuster soundtrack.

I think a lot of people spend so much time on the Internet preparing for the wrong thing. But hey, that's just me.  In the end, make sure you are keeping both feet firmly on the ground with your prepping plans.

Stay safe out there.

Unnamed Prepper


Monday, June 3, 2013

Preppers, Please Stop with the Mall Ninja Mindset:

Hello, friends.  Hope this post finds you well.  As before, Life got in the way of regular updates, and so I haven't kept up with this blog as I thought I would when I began it.  There are a multitude of factors that have kept me from posting besides realworld concerns such as spending time with my family and friends.  One major reason is that I have found so, so many competent, worthy survival blogs out there, all written by people who claim extreme survival knowledge and experience.  That said, as I DO find topics I feel compelled to write about, I will continue to do so.  One of those topics is about to be discussed right now, in fact.

I'd like to preface this with a warning that I may offend some of you with the following, and also, pardon my language.  I'm about to get on a long-winded roll.  You were warned.  If you disagree, I do not care.  Sorry.  

Anyway, on with it.  So, me.  I love knives.  I do.  Always have.  I collect them when funds allow, and I have a pretty decent collection.  Some of them have seen years of camping use, others are shiny show pieces I keep and only take out every now and then.  Well, I had the itch, and some funds, so it was time to buy a few new pieces for the collection.  Not really knowing what all was available, I visited knife sites, I watched Youtube video reviews, I scoured Amazon and Ebay for the best prices, and so on.  So, I made some pretty neat choices, and picked them up.  That said, one additional resource I used was a large Prepper/Survivalist forum I frequent.  It was there (as well as many Youtube videos) where I was reading a lot of threads with titles like "Best Self Defense knife!" or "Best survival knife!" or "Which fighting knife is best for SHTF?".

Uh....what?  Ok.  Folks.  I need to just lay it out, just need to get it out there.  I'm not going to be polite or nonspecific, because this is no joking matter.  I really, really don't understand where this idea is coming from that in SHTF or the zombie apocalypse, or economic collapse, or whatever other end of the world scenerio of your choice, that people are suddenly going to be defending themselves in hand to hand combat.  Let me say it candidly.  Preppers.  Survivalists.  If you find yourself in a knife struggle or any other form of close-up fighting, you have FUCKED UP.  You have made a grievous tactical decision based around poor planning.  No other way to say it, period.  Period.  

If there is a chance your house is easily stormed; you should have left the minute the news started talking about lines at the gas pumps.  If you are in a place where you could encounter an attack from others, you shouldn't be there, you and your loved ones should be elsewhere.  I am really not understanding, or respecting this mindset I'm seeing on various survival pages talking about how Preppers/Survivalists are all "Patriots" and need to stand ready.  What?  NO.  A prepper prepares to survive.  A survivalist trains and plans to survive.  And surviving is not a goal that aligns with all this "Patriot" talk where people talk about armed resistance towards a Tyrannical Government, or talking about actively engaging other people in either a gunfight, or hand to hand.  A true prepper/survivalist is going to take his preps, and get the fuck out of dodge. 

Also, let's just be straight.  Buying a big scary "fighting" knife (you know, one with a non-functional "sawtooth" back of the blade or whatever) or some tacticool mall ninja bullshit like a Tanto blade knife or any other design whose description talks about how it was designed by some well-known knife-fighter is stupid.  It's stupid.  Period.  Unless, like me, you just like cool looking knives.  Hey, if that's the case, good for you.  I myself have a few tanto blades.  But I will be the first to tell you that the bullshit marketing hype about how they're "specially designed for stabbing" is just that, marketing hype, and only idiots buy into marketing hype.  Buying a knife with the expectation that you'll use it to defend yourself at some point, well, it's a bad idea.  Worse, it's a stupid idea.

Now that you're offended, let me give you some things to think about.

Firstly, ask anyone who has actual training in a knife-fighting martial art.  "What would you rather do, defend yourself from multiple determined attackers in a desperate situation, all of whom will certainly be armed, or would you rather deal with those same determined attackers from a distance armed with a firearm?"  Any martial artist (who isn't a mall ninja who has watched so many Shaw Brothers or Bruce Lee movies that they're living in a fantasy world) will tell you flatly that they prefer the latter.  I myself have extensive martial arts experience, and knives are one weapon I'm trained in.

Secondly, let me mention another fact that most of the internet keyboard Ranger Spec-ops SEAL commando badasses you see posting clearly aren't considering: knife design.  As I said, I have actually trained in knife fighting, yet you won't find a single knife in any of my go-bags that are billed as fighting knives or "combat knives".  The reason for that is that many "fighting/combat knives" are worthless in a true survival situation, in my estimation.  They aren't good woods knives, as most don't have the right blade design to clean game, chop wood, or any number of other tasks.  Most of them are made for stabbing and slashing.  The balance is wrong, the weight is usually wrong, and so on.  If you are looking for a survival knife you can depend on, leave the mall ninja bullshit (like most of the TOPS knives with their "Designed by Navy SEALs!" noise, it's a marketing gimmick) to the mall ninjas and get yourself a knife that's made to do some actual work.  Something like a bushcraft knife, a camp knife, a kuhkri, something that's made to do actual work, not something that was designed to look like knives that Rambo might carry.  Most knives made to look wicked are made to look that way at the expense of useful design features.  They are a marketing gimmick.    

Thirdly, back to the martial arts aspect.  There are literally hundreds of books out there on knife-fighting techniques, and every "I can teach you to street fight in two hours!" video tape guy will tell you that they can teach you to defend yourself against someone else with a knife, as well as teach you to be a master of the blade yourself.  Do not be fooled.  Let me tell you something.  Real world fights are not like martial arts movie fights, where the good guy has been surrounded, and yet the bad guys all attack only one at a time, so the good guy can do some fancy kick, or sweet-looking punch/elbow combo.  Reading these threads I've read, it's clear to me that people haven't actually sat down and thought things through.  They haven't taken the time to really concentrate and envision what will actually happen in a desperate situation.  And it's clear that they don't watch the news, and see some of these riots in other parts of the world.  Well, they really need to.  And so should you.  In the real world, if you are approached by multiple aggressors who see you with a knife in your hand, they're going to (if they're smart) rap a jacket or towel around their off-arm, and come at you...all at once.  Your plan of "Well, I bought this sweet TOPS fighting knife on Ebay, so I'm set" is going to go out the fucking window in a hurry, and your wife and children watching from cover will get to watch as your knife is taken from you, and used to disembowel you on the spot.  Graphic?

So are desperate, hungry, determined people.

Fourthly, most knife-using martial arts practitioners will tell you one thing almost universally.  If you engage in a knife fight with someone else, you are almost certainly getting cut.  They may also have a knife.  You may be physically overpowered, and your knife turned on you.  In any case, it's a serious factor to consider in a dangerous situation.  If a hurricane has swept through and destroyed your town, or power is out all over the city and trees are down on your street, or it's full-on SHTF and people are Rodney-King-Rioting in the streets, trust me, you do NOT have easy access to medical care.  So, wounds inflicted by a bladed weapon are something to be avoided at all costs.

Lastly, listen, there is a silver lining here, something that should put your mind somewhat at ease.  So far, I have counseled that knife-fights are going to be bad, even for those trained in knife self-defense.  I've also said that fighting knives make poor work/survival knives.  So, you're probably thinking "Listen, man.  There could be SOME point where I'm jumped out of nowhere, and so what do I do?  You didn't want me to buy a cool specwar Rambo knife, so I just went and bought this nice Benchmade assist-open folder!"  First off, great knife choice.  Secondly, look, I know there could be some slim chance that you end up needing to protect yourself with a knife.  Hell, probably better than "slim".  You're walking out of the side door at the office late one night, and someone grabs you from behind and you don't have your firearm because they aren't allowed in your workplace.  If your folder is all you got, it's all you got.  But here's something to keep in mind, most of the knives used to kill or stab people in the 19th, 20th, and into the 21st century haven't been super-duper Rambo combat Marine killer SEAL Ranger Spec-Ops designed (OMG, so cool!) for killing.  Most knife murders are committed with kitchen knives or hunting knives.  And in a desperate situation, your pocket knife, jammed into the right spot will work just fine and allow you to hopefully stop the attacker, or at least give him something to think about while you get away, preferably to your car where your firearm is locked in a car safe.  If you find yourself jumped and your camp knife is all you got, the absolute fact of the matter is, you wouldn't have been any better off with a super expensive Busse, TOPS, or Strider attack fighting combat bad-ass killer knife.  That is a fact.

So, in conclusion, if you have fantasies of defending yourself from zombies with a sweet knife after being deluded by marketing hype talking about super hard steel designed to hold up to being stabbed through a car door, or "OMG designed by famed knife fighter Joe Schmoe" or "Designed with input from SEALs and DELTA force!", slap yourself in the face, and come back to reality.  You aren't a specwarrior.  Many of those knives are designed for guys in actual combat situations, such as our military personnel currently stationed in the Middle East.  In other words: not your average suburban prepper.  They're also generally designed for those who have years of knife-fighting training experience.  If you're a prepper, or survivalist, your job is ensure that you and those you care about survive, through a combination of good planning, and making sure you are gone from the situation before it erupts into chaos.  One last thing to consider, I've seen used HiPoint pistols go for what some of these "fighting/combat" knives go for.  Yes, they're heavy and cheaply made.  But by all accounts, they're reliable!  And, between you and me, I'd much rather have the pistol than a knife in a fight.        

Stay safe out there. 

Unnamed Prepper