March 19, 2012
The Associated Press reported last week that a man that stabbed four people in a downtown Ohio office building was shot by a police officer after lunging at the officer with a knife in each hand.
According to Columbus Police Sgt. Rich Weiner, three of the victims are in critical condition, as is the suspect, while a fourth victim suffered only minor injuries.
The incident occurred before 1 p.m. in the building where the attorney general's office is located.
The attacker, armed with three knives described as "bigger than pocket knives" was disarmed by citizens who intervened. Unbeknownst to them, the man possessed two other knives and according to Weiner, "We do know that one of the good Samaritans that came to aid the first victim, he was stabbed also."
Jason Jackson, 31, told the Columbus Dispatch that he heard screaming and a security officer directed everyone to evacuate. Jackson saw a man approach officers and heard officers order the man to drop his weapon. When the man lunged at an officer, the officer shot him.
This incident clearly illustrates the dangers that edged weapons pose. While we don't know the manner in which the knives were employed by the attacker, or many of the circumstances surrounding the incident, this story should serve as food for thought. Motives are starting to surface--the man's father said his son is schizophrenic and might have been stressed after his aunt told him to move out--but the investigation is ongoing.
What can we take away from this tragedy that would perhaps make us a little better prepared should we come face-to-face with an assailant armed with an edged weapon? For the sake of argument, let's consider how we might employ a legally carried concealed handgun in a similar incident.
Many people assume that a firearm automatically trumps an edged weapon. I can't tell you how many times I've heard a fellow police officer tell me, "I'll just shoot 'em" when referring to a suspect armed with an edged weapon. What these complacent officers fail to realize is that even if you're armed, immediately drawing your firearm is probably not the best response when someone armed with an edged weapon charges you.
If you don't believe me, you should research the work of Dennis Tueller, whose testing in the early 80s established that the average healthy adult male could close a distance of 21 feet in 1.5 seconds, which is roughly the same time it takes the average person with proper training to draw and fire two center mass hits.
While a firearm enables you to cause damage to your adversary from a much further distance than an edged weapon, in close quarters, an edged weapon can be just as deadly as a firearm.
Keep in mind, an edged weapon doesn't have to be a knife. It could be a screwdriver, a pair of scissors, a letter opener or even an ink pen.
While this is not the forum to delve into the pros and cons of various edged weapons defense systems, you owe it to yourself to familiarize yourself with what's being taught. Resist the temptation to settle on a system based on the skillful demonstration of a master moving at full speed against a half speed, scripted attack initiated by an obedient student. It would also behoove you to steer clear of an instructor who teaches hundreds of edged weapon defense techniques.
Your best bet is to look for the simplest techniques you can find, then with a training partner and proper safety equipment including inert training weapons, put those techniques to the test to see what works for you.
Have you considered how you might handle an edged weapon attack?
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