Category Archive: Product Reviews

Throwsticks

Throwsticks

Throwsticks

My friend Benjamin Scott recently launched his website on throwsticks. He describes throwsticks as “a primal hunting/survival/multi-tool dating back from ancient civilizations on at least five continents.” Ben makes nearly indestructible replicas of the Australian Aboriginal version called the kylie, arguably the best made hand thrown objects in the world. He has them for sale on his site: www.throwsticks.com

Ben sent me one of his throwsticks in the middle of last year. I tested it, loved it, and have been meaning to write about it ever since. I also wanted to make a video demonstrating it, but over the last 6 months I’ve been so busy traveling/moving that I haven’t had time to write a single post on this site, much less make a video. Until I do have time to make a video, this post will have to suffice.

The throwsticks or kylie that Ben is making are awesome survival tools. They’re designed to fly straight and level, and you can throw them a solid 85 meters if not farther. The Australian Aborigines used them primarily for hunting, but they also doubled as close range striking weapons, and you could use them as a close range throwing weapon too.

My favorite thing about Ben’s throwsticks is how fun they are to throw. When I first got mine, my brother and I spent a couple of days throwing it back and forth at great distances on a deserted beach. The way they fly, and the way they feel to throw, is amazing.

Throwing Objects In Self Defense

In addition to the throwsticks being a great deal of fun, I think learning to throw objects in self defense is seriously undervalued. It’s unlikely that you’re going to take someone out completely by throwing something at them, although if you nailed someone in the face or knee with one of Ben’s throwsticks that would certainly do the job! But throwing things at an opponent is an excellent idea, and the more accurate and harder you can do it, the better. In most natural environments there will be something you can throw at your opponent, and if you accurately hum something at your opponent’s face you will always get some kind of reaction, putting your opponent on defense. Either your opponent will get hit in the face, or he will be forced to move and/or block. Any of these options will create openings for you to exploit.

In my book on weapon use and defense I demonstrate at least a couple of examples of throwing objects at an opponent in self defense – using a backpack and a book. One of my favorite combinations is to throw something at an opponent’s face and follow with an immediate kick to the groin, etc.. You can do this with almost anything. As I sit here typing this post, my laptop, a vase in front of me, and a magazine next to me could all be used for such a purpose. If someone knocked down my front door my first move would be to grab whatever is next to me and throw it at them, putting them on defense and buying me a bit more time to get an advantage. In order to be as effective as possible with such a tactic, actually practicing throwing objects at targets makes sense. This is another reason I really love Ben’s throwsticks. They’re fun, useful for self defense training, and for anyone into outdoor survival they’re an excellent tool for a variety of purposes.

Whether you’re interested in buying one or not, I highly recommend you check out Ben’s website. He has numerous videos there showing how they work, along with very interesting information on their history and use.

Note: I am not profiting in any way if you buy a throwstick from Ben. I’ve written this post only because I think Ben has a great product that I think you’ll enjoy owning and practicing with. ūüôā

Vigilant Personal Alarms

Personal Alarm

Vigilant Personal Alarm

I was not paid to do this post.¬† And I don’t ever review or recommend products that I haven’t tried myself and found to be functional/effective.¬† With that out of the way, Vigilant PPS (Personal Protection Systems) contacted me and asked if they could send me one of their personal alarms to test and review.¬† I’ve never bought, owned, or even seen a personal alarm before, and hadn’t thought much about them, but I found the idea interesting, and agreed to give one a try.¬† Here’s a link to the unit they sent me, on their website (also pictured at right).¬† This particular unit is a special addition in partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, where Vigilant donates $1 to the center for each unit sold.

I tried making a video for this review, but my laptop automatically and drastically decreased the volume when the alarm sounded, making it seem less effective than it is, so I decided only to post about it instead.¬† In the picture above, the same image displayed on Vigilant’s site, the unit may look slightly smaller than it is.¬† Here are a couple of pictures so you can accurately see the size of the unit:

Personal Alarm

Personal Alarm (Click for bigger image)

Although it’s slightly wider than my hand, it’s very light, thin, and would easily fit in a pant pocket.¬† The round “circle” is the “speaker”, and not a button.¬† And the orange button is used to activate an LED light that sticks out right below where the lanyard attaches to the device.¬† To make the alarm go off, you simply pull the lanyard off of the device, or pull the device off of the lanyard.¬† I think this is a smart design, as it would be easier to use under stress than having to find and press a button, and keep it pressed.¬† To silence the alarm you have to put the “pin”/lanyard back into the device.

The alarm is VERY loud, and it’s surprising that such a small device can produce such a loud sound.¬† It’s actually painful to my ears, and extremely annoying.¬† I have no doubt that the alarm would surprise an attacker, particularly indoors.¬† Although the alarm is extremely loud, it doesn’t travel well through walls or closed doors, so I wouldn’t rely on it to alert someone who is a wall/door or two away from you.¬† They may hear it, but I would assume that many people would just wonder what the noise was.¬† I’m also not sure you’d get much attention from people indoors if you used it outdoors, especially considering how many car alarms go off accidentally, and how few people pay attention to them.¬† However, an attacker isn’t going to know that.¬† He/she is just going to hear an extremely loud alarm go off.¬† If the attacker doesn’t want attention drawn to the scene, the use of this alarm could definitely cause him or her to flee.

It Doesn’t Replace Awareness and Prevention

No weapon replaces the need to be aware and to do what you can to prevent an attack before it occurs, and the owners of Vigilant said the same in an email to me.¬† In order to use this device you need to have it or the lanyard in your hand, or very quickly accessible, and you need to see the threat coming.¬† Again, that’s true not only for this personal alarm, but also for a gun, knife, pepper spray, etc.

When to Use It

I just received this alarm and have never used one before, so my thoughts on this are relatively fresh.  If anyone disagrees with me here, please let me know/discuss in the comments.

My thinking is that this alarm would not be ideally suited for a robbery, where an attacker threatens you with a weapon and demands your money, purse, etc.¬† Such robberies tend to be quick, the attacker can still grab what he wants, and I wouldn’t risk angering an attacker with an alarm in such a situation, particularly since the alarm isn’t going to do anything to stop the attacker from stabbing/shooting/assaulting you.

But I do think that in situations where bodily harm is the goal of the attack (from kidnapping/abduction to physical assault), this alarm could be valuable.¬† It’s far easier and quicker for an attacker to get an object you’re carrying than to rape or abduct you, and an attacker who wants you can’t get you if they simply run away.¬† They can’t run away with you.¬† Because more time is generally needed for rape or abduction, a loud alarm that draws attention may dissuade an attacker from continuing, increasing the chance that he gets exposed or caught.¬† So my initial thoughts are that this alarm would be ideal when bodily harm is threatened (or even beginning) and bringing attention to the attacker may cause him to flee.

I don’t see this as an effective tool for men in most situations.¬† Men are far less likely to be abducted or raped, and “fights” that men get into (which are almost always avoidable) often happen in crowded places anyway, where attention is already on the participants.

However, I do think it could be an effective self defense tool for women (particularly those who don’t want to carry pepper spray) and children.¬† Giving children pepper spray probably isn’t a good idea, but this alarm is something they could carry 24/7, anywhere.¬† It’s something they could easily learn to use, and something they wouldn’t have to feel bad about using even if they used it in error.¬† Unlike with pepper spray and other weapons, using a personal alarm cannot injure someone mistaken for an attacker.¬† There is zero downside to giving this alarm to a child, and considering it could save the child’s life, it’s hard for me to imagine why a child shouldn’t have one.¬† They’re also very inexpensive.

The key with any self defense tool is understanding when it should be used, and when it shouldn’t.¬† No weapon works in all situations.¬† No weapon is perfect.¬† For adults willing to put in the training time, I highly recommend learning to use and defend against weapons.¬† Weapons use dramatically increases your odds, and the training can be great fun.¬† But especially for women who are unwilling to learn to use a weapon (or unarmed self defense for that matter), and most definitely for children, I think this alarm could be an excellent self defense tool.

Let me know what you think in the comments…

Note: Vigilant also sells pepper spray, and they happen to carry my favorite keyring unit.

Review: Surefire EB2

Surefire EB2

Surefire EB2

I’ve had a page on my website regarding the use of flashlights for self defense for a while, where I recommended the Surefire LX2 or 6PX Tactical.¬† Although those are both outstanding self defense lights, it’s time for an update.¬† Late in 2013, Surefire came out with a new model, the EB2 Backup.¬† You can see it on the Surefire website, here (And, you can find it for sale for less at places like BatteryJunction.com, which I have nothing to do with.¬† I also don’t get any commission if you buy one from them.¬† But I much prefer to buy from a small business than a company like Amazon, so it’s nice to provide a good alternative.).

The EB2 comes in two different colors (black and tan) and with two different types of switches (clicky or tactical).¬† For self defense, you need to get the tactical switch, and not the clicky switch.¬† The tactical switch allows you to access the high mode with a single press, whereas the clicky switch would require you to press it twice.¬† So remember, get the tactical switch.¬† I bought one and compared it to my LX2, 6PX, and a couple of other lights, and I find it to be substantially better.¬† Previously, the LX2 was my favorite flashlight for self defense.¬† Here’s the EB2 next to the LX2:

Surefire LX2 vs. EB2 Backup

Surefire LX2 and EB2

As you can see, the EB2 is just a little bit longer than the LX2.¬† It’s also just a slight bit thinner.¬† Otherwise, it’s about the same for carrying.¬† The clip is the same, and it feels very similar in the hand.¬† As far as the specifications, the LX2 has a 15 lumen low and a 200 lumen high.¬† The EB2 has a 5 lumen low and a 500 lumen high.¬† The EB2 doesn’t necessarily look 2.5x brighter, but it is substantially brighter.¬† Here is a photo where you can compare the beams:

LX2 vs. EB2 Beam

LX2 vs. EB2 Beam

The EB2 beam is on the right.¬† In the past, I trained a good bit with my LX2 at night, using one to defend against a variety of attacks.¬† The LX2 is extraordinarily bright, particularly in your eyes, due to the tight focus of the beam from the Surefire TIR lens.¬† This makes it more effective than flashlights that may have 5-10x more lumens, but without such a tight/focused beam.¬† But to me and the training partner I tested the EB2 with, the EB2 is on another level.¬† I don’t know exactly why…a combination of increased brightness plus the slightly yellow tint perhaps…but it’s extremely disturbing.¬† In fact, it’s so disturbing that it’s almost painful.¬† We quit training with it because it bothered our eyes too much.¬† Although I don’t enjoy getting shined in the face with the LX2, the EB2 is substantially worse/better.

For a self defense light, you will be fine with the LX2 or the 6PX Tactical (much cheaper, although it does not have a clip, which makes it less practical).  However, I would definitely recommend the EB2 over either of those lights, having tested it myself.  Here is the EB2 in my hand:

Surefire EB2 Grip

Surefire EB2 Grip

Here, from another angle, showing where I like to place the clip:

Surefire EB2 Grip

Surefire EB2 Grip

Although it might appear that the clip would get in the way of a good/solid grip, it doesn’t.¬† I feel it actually aids in a secure grip, even when striking something with it.

I’ve had a number of people over the last few months emailing about flashlight recommendations.¬† I haven’t tried every flashlight out there, but I have tried a number of them, have seen even more that other people I know have carried, and I’ve read a good bit about them.¬† Surefire lights are expensive.¬† I realize that.¬† But from what I’ve seen and read, there is no more dependable light.¬† They’re not going to break, they have a lifetime guarantee, the tactical/self defense operation cannot be beat (particularly for the models I have recommended), they fit perfectly in the hand, are easy to carry, and the TIR lens on the LX2 and EB2 makes a tremendous difference in the impact the light has on your eyes.¬† So although you can find a less expensive light, I don’t think you’ll be able to find a better light for self defense.

For information on using a flashlight for self defense, please see this page on my website.

Taiwanese Aboriginal Atayal / Truku Knife

Truku Aboriginal Knife

Truku / Atayal Knife

I¬† recently spent a few weeks on vacation in Taiwan, and with some difficulty managed to find a large knife or small sword made by the Truku aboriginal tribe, formerly classified as part of the Atayal people.¬† Aside from it being a unique weapon, I thought I’d post directions to the blacksmith shop for anyone who may be in Taiwan and searching for it, since it was relatively difficult to find.

If you’re like I was, you primarily associate Taiwan with the Chinese, the country where Chiang Kai-shek fled to escape the communists.¬† I was interested in visiting China without the Cultural Revolution, to see traditional Chinese culture that hadn’t been wiped out by both the Cultural Revolution and the extreme modernization where “to be rich is glorious”.¬† And in that sense, Taiwan didn’t disappoint.¬† The National Palace Museum in Taipei contains the largest collection of ancient Chinese artifacts in the world, for example, as when the nationalists fled mainland China, they brought many treasures with them.¬† Traditional Chinese culture seemed to be alive and well in Taiwan, and talking with locals, they voiced the same idea regarding having a better preserved traditional culture than what you’ll find in much of the mainland.

But anyway, Taiwan is much more than the Chinese who fled there.  There is a large population of native inhabitants, or Taiwanese aboriginal tribes.  Driving along the east coast, in the Rift Valley, or in the mountainous areas of the country, the smaller towns are more aboriginal than Chinese.  The scenery is spectacular, particularly in and around the the Taroko and Yushan National Parks.  There are countless hikes on well maintained trails, including very long and high suspension bridges:

Walami Trail

Walami Trail

In the aboriginal areas, most towns have statues like these at the entrance on the main streets:

Taiwanese Aboriginal Statue

Taiwanese Aboriginal Statue

Every one of the statues we saw included the traditional knife/sword:

Aboriginal Statue

Aboriginal Statue

Before I left for Taiwan, I did a search on Netflix for Taiwanese movies, and came across a movie called Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale.¬† The movie is about the Wushe Rebellion, an uprising against the Japanese by the Seediq tribe in 1930.¬† Here’s the trailer:

The movie may not be entirely accurate, but I highly recommend it if you like action movies.  It was filmed in Taiwan, and the scenery is exactly what you see there, particularly in the aboriginal areas and national parks.

After seeing the movie and the unique blades of the Seediq, I figured I’d have to find one for myself.¬† The Seediq tribe are from the Hualien area of Taiwan, and were previously grouped together with the Truku tribe as Atayal people.¬† The weapons of the Atayal, Seediq, and Truku are indistinguishable, at least from what I can tell.¬† So I searched and searched, found a few pictures of the traditional knives being sold in Taiwan, but was unable to locate them where they had been previously seen.

At our hotel in the Taroko National Park, I met an Atayal man and asked him if the knives were still being made and where I could find them.  He gave me directions to what may be the last aboriginal blacksmith in the country who is still making these weapons.

Tonglan Blacksmith Shop

Tonglan Blacksmith Shop

Here is an article I found in English about the shop.  The only way to get there is with your own transportation.  My wife and I had rented a car, but even with directions it was difficult to find.  Hopefully the following images will make it easier.  The shop is located on Huadong Rd. in a village called Tongmen.  Here it is on a map:

Tonglan Blacksmith Shop Map

Tonglan Blacksmith Shop Map

And here is a closer satellite view of the town:

Atayal, Seediq, Truku Knife Shop

Atayal, Seediq, Truku Knife Shop

If you’re coming from Hualien and taking Highway 9, you’ll see the big lake, and should be able to find the shop from there.¬† The problem for anyone, such as myself, who cannot read Chinese characters, is that even with a GPS you will not be able to enter in the location.

The shop was empty when I arrived.¬† I got out of the car and walked around a bit, saw a girl walking down the street, and gestured toward the shop.¬† She slid the door right open and sold me the knife pictured at the top of this post.¬† Here’s another image:

Atayal Truku Knife

Atayal / Truku Knife

I had actually hoped to purchase a full sized sword, as they’re made with the same design in a variety of sizes.¬† A Google Image search for “atayal sword” will pull up several examples, such as this one from a site displaying Atayal cultural items:

Atayal Sword

Atayal Sword

Unfortunately though, it seems like the swords are no longer made.  However, the knife I was able to purchase (for about $100), is fairly large at 22 inches.

From what I’ve read, the unique open sheath design is used to keep moisture from collecting inside the sheath.¬† Taiwan is extremely humid, and it rains often.¬† So this makes sense.

It’s sad when quality elements and arts of traditional cultures die out, so I’m posting the information above in hopes that anyone else looking for a Taiwanese aboriginal knife or sword will be able to find the shop and keep them in business…keeping the art alive!

Review: Self Defense in 30 Seconds

Self Defense in 30 Seconds

Self Defense in 30 Seconds

I recently read a book that came out toward the end of last year, Self Defense in 30 Seconds, and highly recommend it.¬† It’s less than $4, so based on the price alone you really can’t lose.

When I saw the title I was a bit skeptical, as you obviously can’t learn to defend yourself in 30 seconds.¬† However, the title is in reference to something Rob Redenbach mentions on the first page: “In a real self-defense situation, once conflict becomes physical, you have, at best, thirty seconds to save yourself.”¬† And 30 seconds may be stretching it.

He goes through the anatomy of an attack, what fear means and how you should respond to it, confidence, self defense assumptions, your options in an attack, and concepts for unarmed, armed, and multiple attacker scenarios.¬† It’s a short book, and it’s all about concepts rather than techniques.¬† At points I found myself wishing the author would have written more.¬† But the concepts were both important and solid.¬† And, they were described with unique terminology and valuable points of view.

Probably my favorite chapter in the book was titled, “Your Options”.¬† Rob explains that even in an assault, you always have options.¬† I won’t list the way he breaks these options down (into six choices), as you should read the book yourself.¬† But I will say that one of them is to comply with what the attacker wants, in the event of a threat or request for something you have.¬† While this may sound obvious, realizing that you have a choice, and that compliance is one of them, keeps you in control.¬† If you determine that compliance is your safest choice, it’s a strategic choice in line with smart self defense.¬† Of course in some situations compliance is not an option, and Rob explains that as well.

I also appreciate that there’s a chapter titled “Fighting Fit”, where Rob begins: “Physical violence is, of course, violently physical.¬† Astonishingly, some people seem oblivious to this fact.”¬† I’ve seen plenty self defense and martial arts practitioners, both instructors and students, who are extremely out of shape, but put all their emphasis on “deadly” techniques or weapons.¬† The more physically fit you are, the less likely you’ll be successfully attacked.¬† It’s great that Rob makes that point as very few self defense instructors do, and he breaks it down into aerobic, anaerobic, balance, coordination, strength, etc.¬† Good stuff.

You can purchase the book at your preferred source on this page.  And FYI, I do not know Rob, and am not making any money if you buy his book.

Kukri Review

Kukri

An Incredible, Massive Kukri

I’ve been meaning to write a review of an incredible kukri I purchased over a year ago,¬†and am finally getting around to it. ¬†I’ve handled many kukris, and this one is exceptional. ¬†At 18.5″ long some may consider it a big knife. ¬†But this particular kurkri is massive. ¬†When you hold it in your hand, you feel like you’re holding a monster. ¬†I’d call it a short sword rather than a big knife. ¬†Really, it is a monster.

I purchased it from¬†TraditionalFilipinoWeapons.com, where I also purchased the ginunting I reviewed a couple of years ago. ¬†The ginunting was my favorite functional sword by a long shot, until the kukri arrived. ¬†Of course they’re very different weapons. ¬†The kukri is a Nepalese blade, made famous by the Gurkha warriors…rumored to have used them against samurai swords on occasion. ¬†While the kukri is 10″ shorter than my ginunting, it’s so massive it feels like it really could destroy a much longer sword.

kukri and sheath

Kukri and Sheath

You can see the sheath that came with my kukri in the image above. ¬†TWF shows a different sheath on their website now, but I hope they’ll still be sending out the sheath I’ve got as it’s perfect due to its narrow size and light weight.

The balance of this kukri is perfect. ¬†It makes you want to swing it every time you pick it up, and it feels as if you could chop off a head with a single easy stroke (not that I’d want to do that). ¬†As with all TWF blades I’ve handled, the quality is exceptional. ¬†The blade extends all the way through the beautiful handle:

Kukri Handle

TWF Kukri Handle

The fact that it’s much shorter than other swords I own makes it safer to practice with indoors, and the weight still makes it a great workout. ¬†It fits perfectly in a backpack, and would be an ideal companion for jungle hikes (although it could be just a little too heavy for a full day of hacking). ¬†So if you’re looking for an awesome short sword, I highly recommend it!

If you’d like to know how to practice with it, take a look at the first video on my stick and sword page, where I cover several¬†great combinations of stick/sword work and footwork, several of which are with the kukri.

Who Says You Can’t Hike In Five Fingers?

Hiking Path

Hiking Path

I said I’d be posting on this new blog more frequently, but for the last week and a half I’ve been on a hiking trip, continuing for a week more.¬† Once I return I’ll get back to regular posting.¬† Just a quick note on something anyone who’s looked at the pictures on my site has likely noticed…I wear Vibram Five Finger shoes for training.¬† I posted about Five Fingers for martial arts a while back, and mentioned I also wear them (the Treks in particular) for hiking.¬† I’ve been alternating between the Treks and Komodos on this trip, and after wearing Five Fingers for the last 4 years (I’ve got about 10 pairs and wear them all the time now), I find the Komodos to be excellent trekking shoes.¬† Many people have told me you can’t hike in Five Fingers, that only hiking boots or shoes are sufficient for rocky trails, etc.¬† It’s BS.

Vibram Five Finger Hiking

Hiking with Five Fingers

Over the last few days I’ve been on some extremely rocky, steep trails, and the Treks and Komodos have been fantastic.¬† What makes the Five Fingers so perfect for hiking (and martial arts, and everything else) is that because the soles are so thin and flexible, your feet can naturally conform to the surface you’re stepping on, making them far less likely to slip.¬† Even on wet, muddy, rocky surfaces, I find Five Fingers to work at least as good if not better than hiking boots and shoes.¬† For the most part, I think hiking boots/shoes are a marketing gimmick.¬† There are some exceptions, for example on steep wet slopes with snow, where you need thick, hard edges to edge into the mountain.¬† But for the vast majority of trails most people will encounter, I find Five Fingers to offer the best combination of stability, grip, and mobility.

Rocky Hiking Trail

Hiking Trail

If you haven’t tried Five Fingers, get yourself a pair and give them a go.¬† They’re the best shoes for athletics, hiking, and everyday wear you’ll ever put on.

Rory Miller Violence Seminar Review

This past weekend I attended a seminar by Rory Miller (website and blog) covering violence dynamics, the context of violence, conflict communications, and the logic of violence. It was hands down the best seminar or course I’ve ever attended, and I’d highly recommend anyone and everyone do the same. I’ve recommended his books before. The seminar was even better.

The school hosting Rory requested the seminar be all lecture and no techniques. It was 16 hours of lecture. Even without any techniques, especially without techniques, it was outstanding. I’ve been to a large number of seminars over the last 20 years, both by very well known teachers everyone knows, and those lesser known. In almost all cases I was left picking bits and pieces of useful stuff out of days worth of material. Normally I feel 16 hours could be condensed down to 1 or 2. Not the case here. Every hour of the 16 hours was extremely interesting, but most of all useful.

There were countless “take-aways”, and it will take a couple more days to internalize it and see exactly how it fits in and adds to what I’m currently doing. But one of the biggest for me was a simple way to look at and describe certain types of violence: a fighter vs. a fighter is nothing like a hunter vs. prey. Most martial artists, and sadly even most self defense instruction I’ve seen, addresses violence from a fighter vs. fighter perspective. This type of violence is almost always avoidable and is not self defense. The hunter vs. prey dynamic is entirely different. There is no “fight” there. While I’ve understood that for many years, the seminar helped crystalize that, to simplify it further.

The great thing about this material for martial artists and those practicing self defense, is that it doesn’t make your material useless by any means, unless it was already so. Having a functional base of skills, effective techniques and training methods…it’s all important and it all matters. Getting a better understanding as to why violence happens, where it happens, who it happens to (including behaviors you can change), and how it happens, will give you better context and better direction. If you’re teaching and training stuff that’s not realistic, Rory’s material will make that clear and obvious. It will show you not only what you need to change, but why and how. If what you’re doing is functional, Rory’s material will give you a new way to see it and ensure that you apply it when you should and not when you shouldn’t.

For those that don’t practice martial arts or physical self defense, the material is also invaluable. By understanding the why, where, who, and how of violence, your ability to prevent it will shoot up to near 100%.

Highly, highly recommended.

Oveready Tactical Flashlights

Tactical Flashlight

Oveready Triple XPG Surefire 9P

I’m a big proponent of flashlights for self defense. My first quality self defense light was an Inova X03, a very solid light plenty bright enough to blind an opponent with night adapted vision. But after getting my first Surefire, an LX2, I was hooked even further. The beam on the LX2 is so bright that shining someone in the face with it at night is physically shocking. Not only that, but it’s an excellent light to carry. Later, the Surefire 6PX Tactical came out, which is a terrific option for someone not wanting to spend as much on something like the LX2.

Then I discovered Oveready, a company that makes custom flashlights with the highest quality parts…Surefire hosts (bodies) with custom coatings, tail caps, bezel rings, and LED emitters. Their Triple XPG Surefire C3, which uses a triple LED emitter from Torchlab, in a Surefire body coated with a ballistic grade ceramic, bored to accept rechargeable batteries, and with a metal rather than plastic bezel ring, was too hard to pass up. Not only is it an extremely high quality set up, but it’s advertised as a 1,100 lumen light. My other Surefire lights were advertised at 200 lumens. If those numbers don’t sound like much, here’s a comparison photo:

LX2 vs. Triple XPG

LX2 vs. Triple XPG

The image above is of the LX2 beam (at left) and the Triple XPG beam (at right) placed about 3 feet from a wall. It was the best way I could demonstrate the difference in a photo, but the photo doesn’t do it justice. The beam on the Triple XPG looks like something you’d expect from a helicopter search light. It’s astoundingly, shockingly bright. The beam on the LX2 does project further due to the lens and beam pattern. But up close…maybe inside of 30 yards or so…the Triple XPG throws out a monster wall of light, capable of blinding a small group of people with one flash.

I chose to get my light with the Surefire 9P host rather than the C3 host, as I figured the 9P may be better to quickly grab. Since it’s round, the grip is the same no matter how you grab it. However, I’ve also ordered a C3 host to see which one I end up liking more. I chose the single level Triple XPG rather than the one that has a high, medium, and low mode, so for self defense it would be very simple to operate…without concern for using the wrong mode accidentally. I also picked the smooth bezel ring instead of the one with “teeth”, so it wouldn’t look like a self defense light.¬† Thus, I can travel with it on a plane, etc. This set up, in my opinion, is not ideal for an everyday use flashlight (it’s too bright), but makes an incredible self defense tool. While the 9P and C3 are on the big/long side compared to the LX2 and 6PX Tactical, they are still easy to carry in a back pocket or deep front pocket. Here’s a comparison image:

Self Defense Lights

Self Defense Lights

The Surefire 9P is at the top, followed by the LX2, 6PX, and an Inova X5 (which I would not recommend as a self defense light due to the relatively weak beam).

Oveready custom lights are expensive, there’s no doubt about it. But the product you’re getting is top notch, as is their customer service. Their lights are made in the US, and if you email or call you’ll be talking to someone in the US. If you’re considering a self defense light and want the best you can possibly get, I’d highly recommend Oveready.

For more information on using a flashlight for self defense, see our pages on the palm stick and self defense flashlight.

 

Vibram Five Fingers: Best Martial Arts Training Shoes

Vibram Five Fingers

Vibram Five Fingers

Some of you may have noticed my unusual shoes in many of the pictures on my site. I’ve been meaning to post about them for a year or so now but keep forgetting. For the past 2+ years I’ve been wearing Vibram Five Fingers.¬† I’ve got 3 pairs at the moment, and these are the only shoes I wear 99% of the time, for everything from martial arts training and casual wear to mountain trekking and kayaking.¬† They’re the best shoes I’ve ever had in my life, and I can say with certainty that I’ll never wear a pair of tennis/running/hiking shoes again.¬† You can find many more enthusiastic reviews of Five Fingers here at BirthdayShoes.com.

Vibram Five Finger KSO

Vibram Five Finger KSO

My preferred model is the KSO (Keep Stuff Out).¬† These are minimalist shoes with VERY thin bottoms.¬† They allow you to grip the ground like no other shoe.¬† Wearing them is like being barefoot, but with protection for the soles of your feet. You need to take some time to adjust to wearing them, as the muscles in your feet are likely to be unnaturally weak due to common shoe designs (a real disaster for your body).¬† The other thing about Five Finger shoes is that they tend to bring you back to walking and moving as your body was meant to.¬† Because there is no padding in the heal, you’ll quit doing a “heal strike” when walking or running, which will dramatically decrease stress on your knees, hips, and back.¬† Most people who wear these shoes not only report stronger feet, better balance, etc., but also knee, hip, and back injuries that disappear.¬† Here’s a great video on the science:

The only time I don’t wear KSO’s is when I’m hiking on steep and rocky mountains.¬† In those cases I wear Treks, as they have better grip for such situations, and a slightly thicker bottom to protect against bruising from sharp edges.¬† The black leather is also a bit better for nicer clothes.¬† ūüôā

Ditch whatever shoes you’re currently wearing for martial arts/self defense training, and get yourself a pair of Vibram Five Fingers.¬† You’ll probably end up wearing them all the time, but they’re the best shoes for martial arts training you’ll ever wear.