Choosing The Right Weapon

By Ooni Wasselman
Published on Mar 17th, 2016

 In Perogia, militant factions waged a bloody insurgency to free the people from an oppressive, governing regime. It was there that I trained with a group of fighters who ranged in age from 12 yrs. to the unusually old age of 35; unusual in the sense that most of the male population die young, sacrificing their lives for a cause that moves forward at a snail’s pace.  The war has been going on for so long that local historians can’t put a number to years of history behind it. At times, the rebels forget what they are fighting for…freedom, as they know it, is a fading cause, occasionally resurrected in moments of passionate patriotism or drunken stupor.

In my time there, I began to wonder why we could make no noticeable gain. The intense attitude alone might have been enough to carry them forward. As I looked around at the bombed out shells of buildings once meant to house families, teach the children, care for the sick or provide food  it occurred to me that the reason is simple…. Their weapons were no match for the power of those employed by the reigning government; a lack of funds dictates that only the most rudimentary firearms are employed against automatic weapons or missiles capable of destroying entire buildings in seconds.

On the trip back to the US, I sat in another marvel of modern life, daydreaming about the past. Gliding along at 30,000 feet above our precious earth, I began to drift into thoughts of what it would have been like before the advent of modern weaponry.  Bearing in mind that weapons were likely tools that found new meaning in mankind’s quest for dominance over their own, I thought about what life may have been like before that first blow was inflicted with stick, rock or bone. Beyond that, I was struck with a feeling of awe over the utter efficiency with which we have learned to massacre one another.

Our incredible ability to destroy our own kind was not always the case. The advent of steel in making weapons marked a definitive turning point in that process. An example of steel’s dominance appeared in a book I’ve been reading.  1491–New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus. by Charles C . Mann.  In one passage describing life in ancient Amazonia, he referred to the use of the stone axe for felling trees. To understand the importance of steel in weapons making, one must first be able to see weapons as tools. In doing so, simply substitute or interchange the concepts of “tool” and “weapon” while reading this passage. (For the sake of brevity, the following is paraphrased to express the author’s intent.)

In the 1970’s Robert Carneiro, of the American Museum of Natural History, after observing native tribes work…..estimated the labor required to clear a field (trees) before the advent of steel. Felling a single four foot tree with an indigenous stone axe would take 115 hours, or, nearly three weeks of eight hour days. With a steel axe, workers could topple the same tree in less than three hours. Stone axes would clear an acre and a half in the equivalent of 153 eight hour days. Steel axes would do the job in the equivalent of eight workdays-almost twenty times faster.”

To the modern mind, these statements are likely obvious to a fault. It would not be difficult to prove the point by simply taking a stone vs. a steel blade to try and carve a turkey at the dinner table. However, for me, the lesson went beyond the use of weapons for dominance and destruction.

Naturally, being a practitioner of “empty hands” technique, my mind began to wander into the world of scenarios depicting self- defense and hand to hand combat. Many questions arose, as I focused on the lessons learned through the exploration of Ed Parker’s Kenpo.  Mr. Parker was a master of logic and basics. His development of the thought and terminology used to depict “karate” practice is among the finest ever produced.

 Through the exploration and subsequent practice of his written material coupled with a qualified instructor, one can come to conscious decisions about the choice of weapons that a situation dictates. Concepts such as “fitting” the weapon to the target act as aids in mastering one’s own ability to survive a self -defense situation.  In Mr. Parker’s series of books on Kenpo, he frequently describes the logic employed in choosing the right weapon. Additionally, his descriptions of the weapons themselves (i.e. hands and feet) act as superlative aides in the thought that comes before practice. With that practice, the choice between “stone” and “steel” becomes automatic. By choosing the proper weapon, fighting efficiency is increased; by the use of “sophisticated basics” putting an end to the fight becomes a simplistic endeavor.

In the words of Mr. Parker “never bring a knife to a gunfight”. Choose your weapons wisely.


Filed under Philosophy and Opinion

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