Need to Know

Let’s run a quick hypothetical. I give you a bounce house and a good knife. Then I tell you that your life depends on getting it deflated in under a minute. You can use the knife, but on to stab no slicing or cutting. How would you deflate that huge thing in under a minute? Would you stab the same place over and over, or would you make as many holes as possible all over? Yeah, I thought so.

Now, take that same theory and apply it to self defense. If your life depending on “deflating”  a threat as fast as possible, why do we so concern ourselves with shooting such a tight group as to make on hole? Hmm, interesting. Let me offer a quick disclaimer here: I am not advocating you do not train to proficiency. I am advocating that you train to be good, real good, then maintain that same ability over time.

Let’s take a closer in depth look at compound trauma. We will use guns and gun shot wounds (GSW) for our mechanism of injury here. If you shoot a bad guy one time, he has one injury. If you shoot him 5 times in the same spot, he has one big wound. But, if you shoot him 5 times (in a 6-9 inch group) different spots, he has 5 wounds. If you are shooting the chest, that kind of group could cover the heart, and both lung,  and maybe even the liver.

If you are looking to do serious damage to somebody, this is how you will achieve it. If all 5 rounds went into one lung, he has a major problem. However, that is quite survivable and he can even stay in the fight if he is determined, or under the influence. If however, you get the lungs, heart, and or liver, he cannot breathe and will likely collapse in just a few seconds due to loss of blood. There is no amount of determination of drugs that will keep him in the fight. The body will fail to function and that will be that.

Are you starting to see the effectiveness of compound trauma? Moving beyond the physical effects of it, we can take a peek at the psychological effects of compound trauma. One wound is bad enough, but when you have several different wounds and you are feeling the different effects of them, panic and maybe even shock will set it. This is good for you. If he can become focused on himself and not you, he suddenly becomes less interested in the fight and a lot more concerned with staying alive.

If this happens to you, being the good guy, you need to stay calm and do not panic. Finish the fight or die trying. Then start treatment. You can’t stop in the middle of a fight because of injury, that only gives them further advantage. You must press on and finish the fight. Once done there, you can use the first aid training you received to dress your wounds and call for help. It is of paramount importance that you do not give up mentally. There have been many cases of someone with a would that should have killed them survive because they refused to succumb to the injury. Stay strong and stay in the fight!

Compound trauma is not a topic often talked about or discussed, but I think it is important for you to understand. Not only for you own benefit if you experience it but also for inflicting it to use against a threat. Not just with guns either. You can combine and mix any combination of weapons and tools to inflict compound trauma, that is the beauty of it.

What can we learn?

  • Many holes are more effective than one when it comes to injury.
  • The body will stop working faster with several injuries as opposed to one.
  • Compound trauma works fast to shut the body down and keep it from functioning.
  • Train to be good and stay there! 6-9″ groups are very combat effective on the torso.
  • Get first aid training…

Stay Sharp,


One of the few requirements I gave my wife before I would marry her was that she had to learn how to bake an apple crisp just like my momma. I am happy to say that we have been together right about 7 years at the time of this writing!

The tricky part to slicing a pie, as we have all learned the hard way, is letting it cool. If you do it while it’s hot (wrong) then you end up with a mess. To get the perfect slice you have to wait for the right moment, after it has had a chance to cool. Start at the apex of the pan away from you, draw the cutting tool straight back towards you carefully, turn and repeat in even sections until you have a perfect pie, ready for consumption, with ice cream of course.

Now that I have both of us craving pie; we can see how this translates to tactics. When we hear the words “slicing the pie”, what is the first image that comes to mind? Could it be, slicing a pie, or a sliced pie, or something similar? That is why we have so readily adopted this term, everyone knows what you mean when you say that.

But why do we care, and when is slicing a pie going to help me when defending myself? Actually slicing an apple or cherry pie will not help you too much, however, the concept applies well.

When we find ourselves in need of going around a corner, there is a particular way in which we do that. What we do not want do is walk around the corner like we are just on a stroll. We need to take it carefully and with a system. We do this by “slicing the pie”.

Just as we take a pie and slice it into 8 or so pieces, we do the same with a corner.

Important Note: I discourage you from clearing your home without some form of weapon in your hands. If you feel that you need to investigate a concern with the level of care that requires such tactics as we are discussing, you need to be prepared; or don’t do it at all and let the police do it when they get there.

As we approach the corner, we want to stop several feet back from said corner. Get several feet away from the wall with the corner you are addressing, and peek around the corner (gun up and ready) just a little bit. Take a small step , just as far as you peeked, and repeat until you have taken the entire corner.

As I sit here and write this, I am thinking this needs a video… So, give me a little time and let me try and put one together.

This concept is important for us to know and use as it helps prevent ambushes and surprises. A slow methodical approach and action on our part helps keep us alive and safe. On the same token, it may prevent a horrible tragedy. I have seen too many times a family member shooting and killing another because they were scared that someone was in the house… I pray that you never encounter such a catastrophe. That is why we publish The Sharpening Stone, our earnest desire is to see you and your family safe.

If you have more questions about slicing the pie, comment below or drop us a line. We offer a course for just such training and equipping called SHARP

What can we learn:

Slicing the pie is an advanced tactic that requires training and practice to perfect. It can be learned and performed by you, but you need to seek advanced training.

Clearing a room or home is very serious business and is not a task to be taken lightly. Before you ever take on such a task, I highly encourage you to call to police and get them en route. If safe to do so, wait for them to do it for you.

It is our desire to equip you with the skills necessary to protect and defend yourself and your family
Stay Sharp,



Our favorite action star starts taking fire, shouts “TAKE COVER!” as he dives behind a car door, or a sheet rock wall or some equivalent. As I watch this, I have to bite my tongue for the benefit of my wife.

Cover is a fundamental tactic. It is fundamental because of its importance to our safety and survival in a fight. Cover, however, is more than a hiding spot. Cover is only part “hiding”; but “hiding” can be broke down to two groups: Cover and Concealment. Let’s look at both of these.

Concealment is just that, concealing your presence. What it is not, is bullet proof or even resistant. Car doors, the walls in your house, glass, a couch, among countless other items are concealment and not likely to stop a bullet. This does not mean that you cannot seek out and go to concealment, sometimes it is all we have! There is an old saying that says: You can’t shoot what you can’t see. Now, that is in the context of you cannot take aim at something that you cannot see; however, that does not mean just because the bad guy can’t see you, does not mean that you cannot be struck by a lucky (or unlucky) round.

Cover, the reason we are here. Cover is usually also concealment, but not just. It will more than likely conceal your location, but it will also absorb rounds and not allow penetration. Concrete or block walls, large trees, steel and metal doors and walls, among numerous other items could be considered cover.

Now that we have an operating understanding of the difference of the two concepts, we can start to go outside the box. When we don’t have weapons, or we are in some other way unprepared to fight back, we run and/or hide. This is our natural response. Both cover and concealment are usually good for hiding, but cover of course is preferred. But, how can we use cover while engaging a threat?

We utilize cover to protect as much of our body as possible while exposing only that which is absolutely required to still engage. For example; using a heavy steel trashcan in a park for cover, we squat low and peek out the top or side. This keeps out torso and legs well protected, making you a smaller target and more difficult to hit. The same goes for a wall, you can even stand up and peek around the corner while keeping your torso and legs remain protected. Yes, our head and arms are exposed. There is no way to engage without this though. This is called a critical vulnerability; learn more about critical vulnerabilities by clicking the link.

If we are in a situation in which gunfire is being exchanged, seek cover! Get behind an engine block in a car, a concrete planter, block wall, etc. I say that understanding that is not always practical or even possible. If you are jumped on the street or carjacked, it is not necessarily practical to seek cover. You will have to engage without that luxury.  When you find yourself in a situation in which you can get to cover, do so!

Another major tactical consideration is being able to see. If you are hiding, you are not likely to see where the bad guy is or what he is doing. If you are engaging the bad guy, and take full cover to reload or just get away from the bullets, you are taking your eyes off of the threat. In that time he may move and get a leg up on you, which is very bad. This was one of my main tactics when playing competition paintball. Lay down fire on a guy, make him hide, move to a flanking position. When he comes back up, I am not where I was and he catches paint in the side.

This is arguably the most simplistic tactical fundamental, as it goes with our natural response to a threat.; hiding. The complexity of it comes in when we try to distinct cover from concealment. I have faith you will get a good grasp on it.

What can we learn?

Cover is very important in a gun fight. Begin to look for cover and concealment and distinguish the difference.

When you can, get to cover and utilize it!

Don’t just hide; be prepared to engage from cover.

Try and keep good tabs on the bad guy and what he is doing, if safe to do so.

This concept also works for knives, intermediate weapons, and so on.


Stay Sharp,



BACK UP! GET BACK! Those are a couple of examples of what you may hear or say to create space between you and a threat, real or perceived. Creating space between you and a subject is officer safety 101, but it not limited to public law enforcement. It applies to you and your self defense strategy just as well. Creating distance has numerous benefits, some of which we discuss below.

In the “industry” we call the gap we create using different tactics the “Reactionary Gap”. One of the primary reasons for this aptly named concept is to allow us time to react. Common sense, and a little bit of physics, tells us: the greater the distance of an object traveling towards us the greater the time it will take to reach us. Traveling is a prime example. If you visit your friend down the road, it take a couple minutes, to visit your relatives 300 miles away, it will take several hours.

This concept is what started the 21 foot concept in the 80’s. (Learn more about the 21′ “rule” HERE). Lt. Tueller, in a classroom setting determined that on average his students could draw and fire in the time it took another student to run 21 feet. This highlights the importance of creating space and distance.

But! And it is a big but; can you reasonably keep 21′ or more space between you and everyone you encounter. Although we may wish that was the case sometimes, no, that is just not reasonable. What is reasonable in most cases, however,  is “our bubble”. Take your hands and stick them straight out to the side, like you would if you we pretending to be an airplane. The circumference you make when you turn 360 degrees is your bubble. This is you space. No one has any business being inside of that space uninvited.

What this means is: a reasonable reactionary gap is your bubble. The downside here is you do not have much time, and most certainly not time to get to a traditional tool. So, you must learn to buy  time with what you have. That leaves something already in your hand, or just your hands. Keys, a purse, a cell phone, etc. can all be employed as an intermediate weapon if need be.

Another benefit of the reactionary gap is the cost. It’s free! The self defense world can get expensive; with all the gadgetry, tools, training, etc. So, when we stumble across that beautiful gem that we can learn and employ for next to nothing, there is no reason what soever we should not become proficient on the topic.

This brings us to our final concept: Using objects. Using objects to buy us time, even when distance is not available, gives us a reactionary gap. You may be just across a low fence from a threat, but that fence must be overcome before the threat is valid.  In the case of a dog, that fence may give you such a reactionary gap, there is no threat.

The reactionary gap may sound like a technical new phrase, but the concept is something we employ everyday. While driving we create distance between us and the car ahead of us to allow time to brake. We put things between us and a threat: a fence, a car, a table, etc. Don’t fret the terminology, you already know and understand the reactionary gap as a concept; now you just need apply it to your self-defense strategy.


What can we learn?

It’s free, master it

Creating distance of space and/or time allows us time to react to a threat

Use objects to create time. Knock a chair over, trash can, get behind a car.

If the threat cannot physically reach you, they must have a tool that can close the gap. If they do not have such a tool, you have effectively neutralized the threat (to a point).

A substantive reactionary gap is not always possible. Develop techniques and skills to forcibly create distance.


Stay Sharp,


Grammatically speaking, Violence of Action is a nightmare, not to mention confusing. To further complicate matters, it is difficult to define in finite terms. Violence of Action (VoA) is a concept and ideology. A well rounded self defense strategy will include VoA, and employ it properly.

Traditionally a military term, VoA is common within that community; however, it has struggled making the leap to civilian life and application. VoA can be defined as: the unrestricted use of surprise, speed, strength, and aggression to achieve dominance against your adversary. While the military implications are far different than that of civilian individual self defense, the concept remains the same.

Where the military may employ coordinated air strikes combine with artillery, infantry, and whatever else they may have handy. For you and I, we have much less to work with. Our hands, firearms, intermediate weapons, and the like are all we have. So, how can we employ VoA, what does it look like?

Using the above definition; let us look at a scenario. You are walking down the street at night and get “jumped”. They guy has a knife, not time to go for your gun. With lethal force legal here; you explode with everything you have, lashing out with your hands striking the attacker in the face and throat with everything you have. No warning, no pleading, just action. This is VoA.

You used the following components of VoA to react:

Surprise: You gave no warning that you would fight back. Your response was instantaneous and explosive.

Speed: An effective hand strike will be fast, if not it is easily defeated or avoided.

Strength: You don’t hit someone with a knife in your face like you’d pull a paper towel off of the roll. You hit with everything you have.

Aggression: Hello… you just throat punched him; that qualifies as aggression.

If done properly and effectively, you have achieved total dominance over your attacker. I assure you, a good hard throat punch will disable anyone, no matter how tough. If nothing else it will buy you a second or two.

Violence of action is not only employed for defense, but in attack. Think: ambush. The bad guy can use VoA just the same as you. Think about it; if a guy 100 feet away said he was going to rob you, would you continue on? No! You would avoid him and the area. They require VoA to be successful in their attempts.

VoA requires quick thinking, problem solving, and skill. You must be able to process and act fast in order to defend against, or employ VoA. If not, it is just violence or action. This comes with time and training. The more you think about and train using VoA the more natural and instinctive it becomes.

What can we learn?

Violence of Action is critical to a successful defense strategy

The grammar ( or lack there of) is terrible…

Action is critical, explosive, surprising action is better

The more you do something, the more natural it becomes. When you train, train with VoA in mind. That way, when you need it, you don’t think you just act.


Stay sharp,