31 Inches of Wooden Pain.

I used Dural (An alloy of Aluminium, Copper and Magnesium) walking sticks for quite a few years but, like me, they got a bit tired and creaky. More accurately I’d almost battered them to death!
That funny shaped handle turned out to be really good when held as a side baton and slipping off the rubber ferrule made the Dural a pain giver and a half when it stuck (or stuck into) you.

Only that wasn’t quite enough as Dural is strong but light and when it comes to striking someone, YOU NEED WEIGHT!

Amount of force (clout)= mass of baton multiply by the speed that you were able to generate swinging that baton.

Luckily I found a couple of new heavy-duty 1¼ inch thick ash walking sticks.
Each one weighs 15 oz or TWICE the weight of the Dural stick and boy these sticks pack one hell of a punch.

Self defense with sticks? You’re kidding right?
No, I’m not, and anyone who has been educated in the use of a long baton will tell you, it can be highly effective in three ways.

  • It is acceptable to carry one in public (if you need it)
  • It is great at incapacitating a person and controlling them,
  • It can be a bone breaker and a life taker
  • It’s best feature is it extends your reach which helps immensely when you think along the lines of “Distance is King in Combat”.

Something foremost in my mind when thinking about knives.
Why them especially? The best defense from a knife is to not be there.
Only I can’t run now. So it’s using barriers or attack hard without mercy.

The commonest street weapon in the UK today is a blade and usually used in an ambush mode (which is pretty much unstoppable) or with a degree of brandishing and knife dancing. All very pretty (not) but even when the blade is machete sized, a decent stick defense can keep an assailant out of reach while you are hollering for help, which NO attacker likes, as it draws attention to them.

So why not just shoot them? Humph!
I’m thinking you missed the bit about “the UK today”.
About the best I can legally in the UK is shoot at them with a bit of harsh (non sexist, gender neutral, and not racist) language.

How to learn what to do?
Military Manual FM 3-19-15 chapter 4-6 is all about using a 36-inch baton. [Link]
There are also stick self defense courses for civilians [Link] (including the Elderly)

Just a few pointers.  Always learn and practice with a buddy.
Start slow and build that muscle memory first before speeding up.
Remember slow is smooth, smooth is fast.
When a stick is in a full strike swing, unless you hear it ‘sing’ or ‘whistle’, you haven’t used enough force, and don’t forget to carry that force right through your target.

Where do I aim for?
The ankle, shin, or knee.
Mainly because if they can’t stand, they can’t pursue.
However, if things get out of hand,
I train to target the shoulders up.
Or ‘bayonet drill’ and use the stick against the center mass.
However, the last two regions CAN KILL.

There again, UK law permits reasonable force in self defense of yourself or another up to lethal level if you think your / their life is in danger.

Intervene or not? That is the question.

Would you intervene in a dog or cat fight?
Both can result in injury, to you, and both can occur in a split second.

So what actually is the difference between teenagers, or two drunks slugging it out, and a couple of feral dogs or cats scrapping? I submit not a lot!

Whilst I may still assist a person getting a beat down by some low life, today’s world is a weapon rich environment, and while UK law prevents us oldies from carrying adequate means to protect ourselves (be that non lethal or not), it’s more a judgement call whether to stand back and pick up the pieces or risk personal injury.

Statistically it’s the under 25’s that sustain and inflict the most injuries on the streets.
You may note I haven’t put a bottom age limit to this. That’s because toddlers aged around 7-8 are carrying some sort of weapon nowadays and have little restraint in using them. However, most other violence is the main preserve of the under 50’s and usually fueled by alcohol.

So where does that leave the onlooker in the UK?
I submit on very dangerous ground when facing young rage, bladed weapons, acid, or whatever. Add drink and drugs, little effective policing, a weak justice system, and no political will aside from ‘sound bites of indignation’.

In the UK, street law is rife, and folk MUST be willing to break the law to stand a chance of survival in a volatile, dangerous world.

By that I mean taking in and understanding the words of a master tactician.
“Unarmed combat is only for those FOOLISH enough to be caught without a weapon.”  Capt W Fairbairn

So would I intervene?
Yes, if a guy is beating on a female, or a child, or the assault has moved into the kicking a helpless person around.

AND YES, I do know that if I get it WRONG, I could be hurt at worst, and arrested for assault. Yep, in the UK a good Samaritan ALWAYS gets arrested.
Incidentally, years ago I helped a LEO who was bring pounded. Then his backup arrived. Guess who was thrown up against a wall and handcuffed? That would be me.

Luckily, the downed LEO remained conscious enough to tell them I was a good guy. So, I was released on the understanding that the ‘drunk as a skunk’ attacker could lay criminal charges against me at a later date. Guess who would have provided evidence in that trial supporting the fact that I attacked the idiot? The police.

So there is the BUT bit. Which I’m pretty certain many in the US will understand if they draw and use a CW or just a length of 4 x 2. The state, or the lowlife (or the family of), may come after you in a law court.

Anyway, what’s my MO?
Close up, fast, and without warning, down the assailant.
How? Apart from being old, there is another reason why I carry two heavy walking sticks.

What’s the dangers?
The human body (even if soaked in drugs or alcohol) has numerous weak points, only if someone is in full attack mode, their pain threshold (let alone their ability to think straight) may be dulled enough for them to engage you.  After that, restraint is something you can’t consider, as is engaging in a long drawn out defense.

Are all Gray man proponents unfriendly?

A cream puff looks more aggressive than I do and visually there is no tactical kit look about me. No backpack. At most only an old beaten out army surplus gas mask bag. (Think canvas man bag).

The best survival option is to let life walk past you, not noticed, part of the background, not worth a second glance, and even of someone did look at you, they would rate you as no threat or simply not worth the trouble.

After that the secret is to be ready without that being apparent.
To switch into competent aggression, a controlled effective response, something unexpected from a nobody, a nothing, a shadow, and too fast to counter effectively.

Is the gray man Persona ringing any bells?
If you think and live as a gray Man, and adapt accordingly to where you are, in manner, clothing, and knowledge, the last thing you’ll be doing is wearing tactical clothing, anything new, high-tech, or using too modern equipment, as all it does is draw attention to yourself. As I learned years ago, it marks you as rich pickings carried by a fool.

Historically, my time on the streets was influenced by a young street girl called Megan who taught me how to blend in AND, more importantly, when it is better NOT TO BLEND IN. Adopting a confident persona, the ‘I’m not a victim so don’t mess with me’.

Years later I met my keeper, SWMBO!
She taught me to interact with people in a controlled way on slightly better terms than a ‘grunt’ and a rare nod. Knowledge she learned from years of interacting with the worst kind of people in the world, the general public. That has helped me to evolve and enhance my gray man persona, a new aspect that I would not have thought possible, an ‘outwardly friendly’ gray man.

It’s an interesting concept.
To be known, accepted, but not portraying a victim or, and even more importantly, any level of leadership material. Why? Because you don’t need people to look to you for help when danger is near.

Training will pick up on that.
That involuntary glance in their direction, a look of ‘help me’.
Something which may promote you from ‘victim’ to threat or a burden.

A threat to an enemy is anyone who would stand up to them or for others.
Someone who could organize resistance and that can be wide ranging.
Like a preacher, someone ‘well thought of’ or respected, any professional person, or anyone with military experience.

So how are ‘we’ doing this.
The first thing is to be known on a casual level.
Not as a giver or a taker, just someone who is known but offering little in clues about who they are. Only it takes time. Progressing from a nod, to a smile, to  ‘Hi, how’s you day’? Just a familiarity, not a bond, no long chats, just acknowledging the other person’s existence.

Some would argue that we are deliberately exposing ourselves and ‘standing out’ from the crowd. Funny bit about it is now people just accept us. No one is surprised to see us, we are just part of the background of everyday life, and considered harmless.

That’s the other side of the Gray Man people often ignore.
I simply call it ‘Open Camouflage’.

12 End Of The World Triggers

1) Catastrophic climate change (Big business, WWx aka politicians)
2) A massive geomagnetic event (Nature, WWx aka politicians)
3) Thermonuclear Nuclear war (Politicians)
4) Global pandemic (man made or natural, and spread by bad politics)
5) Ecological catastrophe (Natural / man made)
6) Global system collapse (Politicians)
7) Major asteroid impact (Nature)
8) Super volcano (Nature)
9) Synthetic biology (Man made)
10) Nanotechnology (Man made)
11) Artificial Intelligence (Man made)
12) Future bad governance (Politicians)

Nature 5, Man made 5, Politics 6
So I deduce that nature, although it can be catastrophic, is a minor player when compared to the disasters that politics and mankind unleash.

After all, nature’s disasters are usually short lived.
While any disaster generated by politics and mankind rumbles on forever.


Cold in the nest

Shiver not in the cold of dawn
No mist from my breath
My dampened scarf
Smothering wet heat.

No swipe at a fly
No scratching that bite
No smack for the bug
That’s chewing my neck

Dry mouth, sore eyes
Full bladder and I’d kill for a piss
I think I’ve still got feet and
Wet sausages for fingers

The cramp’s getting worse
And my back is a mess
The hold swinging gently
An eight is its quest

Then glass captures movement
So BRASS I address
A punch in the shoulder
And back home to bed.

Spot the Gray Man!

People possess 6 senses.
They are sight, sound, taste, touch, smell, and your sixth sense.
Even if you don’t know you have one.

If any of them are triggered by that person, one or more of those senses may trigger a reaction in you. What that reaction will be depends on you the person, training, or an evolution reaction that will typically be fight or flight.

Mind you, if a gray man triggers ANY reaction, he, or she, has failed.
So what could go wrong?
He or she did something your mind picked up something.

For instance.
Does that person act or move in a threatening or different way to everyone else?
Movement may be out of the norm. If everyone is gawking and that person is moving, why aren’t they doing what everyone else is doing? If everyone is strolling and that person is running, why?

It’s all about ‘What’s wrong with this picture’ and consciously or not, your mind will detect the unusual.

Before going on, it might be useful to reprint something I scribbled in 2013 about the gray man persona.

Note that although I say “him or her” in this article both ,and a couple, are equally adept at achieving this persona.

So why play the Gray man card? It’s simple security.
If you don’t form an opinion of a person, if you don’t know anything about them, if they are there but NOT there, 9/10 times, you’ll leave them alone.

That’s precisely the position you want to be in.
It allows you to develop your plans, your resources, assemble your survival equipment and train without drawing attention to yourself.
Then, whatever event happens, you’ll probably be left alone and provided you continue as “Mr. or Mrs. Nobody”, you’ll not be bothered.

The gray man persona is the ultimate in camouflage and the hardest role to play.
Exponents of the gray man are extremely difficult to identify simply because you don’t notice them.

They’ll be tactically aware the whole time, fitter than they look, trained to better than competent in a wide range of survival skills yet to look at them they’ll be no different than the next guy or girl.

Neither macho or exhibiting strong personality, they appear without fanfare, and you never actually notice when they leave. If you asked a room full of people what the gray man looked like the common theme would be nondescript.

In dress, they are never bright BUT never overly dour.
They’ll dress to fit the occasion. If everyone is wearing casual, so will they yet strangely their apparel will not stand out. If anything you’ll notice they dress in quiet colors, usually earth tones.

In manner, they will come across as private, a little shy, respectful, and polite especially in the presence of authority. Although they won’t offer to help, but they will quietly aid with everyone else who does.

Difficult to engage in conversation, they come across as an average, pleasant, polite personality. They offer no new opinions, are never contentious, or argumentative.
Having said that, the individual may be slow and calculated in their answers to the point where you think they are feckless and uninteresting.

Friendships will be restricted to polite acknowledgments.
It’s unlikely they will give out or take up invitations for meals, coffee, or BBQ.
To you it’ll appear as shyness. In the worse case they will appear stand offish BUT a true exponent of the gray man will disarm that by their acquiescent neutral behavior and personality.

Push too hard and they will just quietly fade into the background.
It would be a mistake to pursue ANY issue as you would have been flagged by them as a hazard. The harder you push, the further they will withdraw.

However, NEVER make the mistake of thinking that they are being cowardly or can be pushed round. They may just be waiting till they can deal with you on their terms and they probably will provided it does not draw attention to themselves.

The two ages of man will engender different opinions from others even though it will be hard to guess their age by their dress or manner.

The young gray man may appear a bit wimpish, shy, and withdrawn.
He’ll step back from a crowd (yet moves forward with little effort).

The older gray man may appear a bit “vacant”, like he’s not all there and might even be a bit unstable in movement. Not quite hesitant, they can also make good progress with little effort.

Both will appear calm and relaxed although they are constantly assessing the risk to their situation, their contact with others, and the location for exit and choke points.

A learned person liked them to ducks. Its a good analogy.
Calm on the surface but paddling furiously under the water.

Don’t forget couples can be exponents of the gray man persona.
If there are a pair but split up, individually they may appear apart but their positioning and focus may be on each other in a protective “watching the other guys back” role.

At work the gray man will arrive comfortably on time, do their days work methodically and without contention. If people have sick days off, so will they. If people occasionally work over time, so will they.

At play they’ll probably do singular activities.
If they have to share facilities i.e. swimming baths or ranges, they’ll be a creature of habit. Same procedures, same times, yet not quite.
They’ll always be tucked away from the crowd.
Not noticeably separate, just on the sidelines.
Mostly paying cash “as they go” in preference to setting up accounts.

What car they drive will be nondescript.
No huge 4×4 or truck unless that is the norm.
The vehicle won’t look new or old BUT it will be well maintained.
If the police stop this vehicle, everything will work, the paperwork will be present and correct, the contents on a cursory search benign.
The driver will be highly respectful of authority and VERY law abiding.
He’ll probably wave to the police.
You may recognize the vehicle eventually but it’ll be driven without contention.
Once again it will be unremarkable, no bumper stickers or noticeable features.

In transit they’ll be dressed comfortably but “dull”.
No tight tops, loose fitting shirts, a generic top layer i.e. if everyone wears anoraks, so will they.

They won’t be wearing an obvious “vest” or tactical webbing though.
If they are carrying, it won’t be obvious with either a small of the back, fanny, or ankle holster. See (Additions to Urban lugging thoughts) for thoughts on vests.

If the local religion or culture calls for head gear, the gray man will conform.
However, be cautious of using a shemagh.
Patterns and colors may identify you as being a member or follower of a religion, race, or gang member. Get it wrong and you make yourself a person of interest.

Footwear won’t be tactical, no assault boots, probably clean “lived in” work boots.

People acknowledge dirt yet they notice a dirty or VERY clean person.
Having said that, you’ll be neat and average.
No discernible perfumes or fragrances. If you want to deodorize, wipe down with alcohol as it kills the bacteria that makes the smells and evaporates off without odor.

As for what you carry?
On foot in transit was covered in Urban Load Lugging
Take careful note of my choice of ‘pack’ and how I learned that from another living on the street. Also note the use of a vest under your not too baggy clothing.

So how do you blend in?
Match the surroundings and the people within that area.
Always keep to neutral ‘earth’ colors and stay in the shadows.
Hug what cover is available to you, move slowly or at least the speed everyone else is moving. If everyone is moving at a different direction to where you want to go, DRIFT in that direction but don’t suddenly change your route.

What other factors could catch you out?
You in your bearing, size, and how you are transiting and interacting (or not) with others. When you do interact, don’t hold eye contact.
Scanning is acceptable, looking into another person’s eyes is not wise.

Is that it? Over the years, the one constant thing I’ve learned is avoid tactical in manner and dress. That and the gray man technique constantly changes because of the scenario and location you find yourself in.

While people can write books about it, by the time it’s printed fashion or trends may have changed and people watching remains as the best way to learn what is acceptable, where, and when.

If I was describe the whole Gray man bit in a couple of words.
It would be for you to BLEND IN, and somehow tactical never does.

Look deep into the skies, as those with wings are seldom angels.

Sitting in our home I shut down again as I heard the drone of heavy rotors.
My wife knew the signs but never knew the full reason why it affected me so badly. Till tonight as I told her what we had seen.

Imagine, if you can, two of us in a nest
With gun ships flying overhead towards a little village
Where children played, dogs barked, and farmers worked
A place where no bad had happened or come from there.

For some reason the bastards opened fire on the village.

One pass was all it took to wreck the village.
My spotter throwing up and crying as she saw the end result
Those cannon had done their job well, and nothing moved below.

When we reported what we had seen, even the hardened of the team looked around with pained and angered eyes.

Was any action taken when the report was passed along?
As always, no one who eats apple pie ever gets held responsible.

Anyway, later that night, someone scrawled this by the main door.
Look deep into the skies, as those with wings are seldom angels.

For those who do not know, a lot of soldiers are superstitious and a few have some sort of talisman they carry everywhere, especially into combat. A lucky elastic band is a ‘Hollywood’ example.
However, some will write a few words on something which is left casually lying about for anyone to read. It can be a phrase, I’ve seen biblical verses, or something they know is a life truth.

The why is for them to know and few will admit to doing so.
However, it is a very effective way of getting a point across to others who sometimes don’t take kindly to advice.

Lui passes on.

Lining up the shot that day
With Lui spotting by my side
This last shot and that was it
I knew that she’d be free.

It’s tiring to carry another soul
Them asking nothing but needing all
Yet as he died I heard from Lui
Her sexy sigh of old.

With nothing said I made to leave
But Lui she pressed me down
Then up she stood I knew not why
And she was hammered down

As she fell she looked at me
With a smile and words so sad
I’m sorry, she said . . .
And my world turned black

Lui’s pained life had ended there
And sleep I couldn’t get
We all drank hard with deaden minds
To a girl we called ‘little sister’.

They all saw what she’d done
But nothing said assuaged my pain
As shooting true for Lui that day
I’d ended her pain and her life.


Sung by a pair on a busker’s pitch
A gentle guitar and a voice so clear
I’ve heard it before in all of its forms
But today in public I heard its words.

I sat for a while with blank in my mind
Eyes closed tight yet dripping with tears
I saw all my friends of many past beers
Their terrible jokes, still ribbing me dear.

Through two encores I spoke with my friends
Then I realized someone was waking me up
My anger was hot and my words well barbed
But the moment was lost and they had gone dark.

Farewell Dear friends, I said in my head
Sleep well with your beer in Valhalla’s beds
No anger or pain will find you there
And I know sometime we’ll speak again.

Stranger Danger

Allow no advance, lest his speed be too quick
Stay under cover, lest he see what you keep
Lay nothing to ground, lest it slows your reply.

Keep far from a stranger, lest he try to beguile
Look not in his eyes, lest you show him within
Show no back to a stranger, lest he works with a knife.

Talk plain not in code, but not all the book
Talk short not at length, lest your mind get involved
Never lie but omit, lest he knows all the truth.

Never word any anger, lest he shoots as you rave
Tell nothing of you, lest he works out your route
Don’t sway to his words, lest he’s telling you untruths.

Take no gift from them, lest the price be yourself
Make no gift to them, lest they think it a trick
Trade hard for that nail, lest they think you too weak.

Let him camp where you tell him, lest he walks as you sleep
Post a guard to keep watching, lest he attack as you sleep
And watch careful his going, lest he return for his prize.