A Mystic’s View of Fists, Knives, Sticks, and Pistols

This is my favorite knife, handmade using 18th Century methods by Deer Runner (a.k.a. Joe Schilling).  Note the little deer track stamped in the blade.  In the background is my little "go bag," a vintage hemp Italian gas mask bag.

This is my favorite knife, handmade using 18th Century methods by Deer Runner (a.k.a. Joe Schilling). Note the little deer track stamped in the blade and the old school flavor of the sheath. In the background is my little “go bag,” a vintage hemp Italian gas mask bag.

As a martial artist, I study and practice skills with the potential to cause grievous harm.  I train in all aspects of unarmed self-defense, as well as with knife and cane.*  As a mystic, I look at my hands, my knife and my cane — all possessed of violent possibility — and I feel very differently about them than I do about my pistols. I own two, passed down to me when my father died.

My hands can be used to do a million things, most of them non-violent, like writing, cooking, driving, and holding hands with my wife (my personal favorite).  My knives also have multiple uses, like opening packages, slicing apples, carving wood, and getting crud from under my fingernails.  My cane offers two primary kinds of support — a third leg while walking or hiking, and a bit of added security against multiple attackers.

Two hands and a knife are with me always.  My cane, more limited in use than my knife, stands in the corner until needed.  Knives are safely placed to the right of every plate in the Western Hemisphere.  Canes are used by elderly people worldwide.  It takes time and practice to turn a fist, a foot, a knife, or a Mulberry stick into a true weapon.  In their natural states they are innocent, nearly harmless things.

But the pistols, which are made for the sole purpose of killing things, are tucked away in a safe.  Their profile is the reverse of the hand, knife, or cane.  Rather than being safer in the hands of an untrained person, they are far more dangerous.  Careless handling by a child or novice can result in tragedy.

I had been considering a shooting class sometime this year, but after careful thought and meditation, I’ve decided against it.  I’ll maintain my focus on martial arts.  Sure, there’s a violent element.  But martial arts also make the body strong and flexible, build character, and focus the mind.  Give me those tools which are inherently innocent, and let me learn how to use them for all their myriad purposes under the sun.  I have no interest in picking up an instrument of death to learn the art of slaughter.

Still, I am a mystic, and in the words of Socrates, “All I know is that I know nothing.”  Perhaps I’m too nice, too kind, too sensitive.  Perhaps someday I’ll feel differently.  So let us all be free to do what we will, feel what we will, and love what we will.

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* I also train with chucks (a.k.a. nunchaku, jool bong, “numchuks,” etc.) but that’s more of a fun, dexterity thing than a weapon thing.  They hang on a hook in my workout room.

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5 responses to “A Mystic’s View of Fists, Knives, Sticks, and Pistols

  1. But the pistols, which are made for the sole purpose of killing things,

    I would like to address this in two ways; first I completely disagree with you on the purpose of firearms. They are designed, their sole purpose, is to expel a projectile down the barrel.
    What you are taking about is ‘intent’ – what does the person holding and using them intend to do with the firearm.
    For me, many of my pistols are target pistols; which I use to my enjoyment in mastering a physical skill. Being able to put a hole in a piece of paper. If i ever get good enough, I can put a multiple shots in the same hole.

    Secondly, let’s say they are designed to kill?
    So what? That doesn’t mean I have to use them to kill in order for them to be effective self defense — just like you don’t have to kill with your hands, knives or cane.

    But that ease of use is an absolute benefit to so many people — how many years of practice have you had to get to your current skill level?

    With a little practice, generally in a couple of hours, people can master the basics of firearms. With a couple of months practice they can obtain a good level of expertise. Which makes someone like my 77 year old mother in law capable of defending herself against someone younger, stronger, trained like you, etc.

    Give me those tools which are inherently innocent, and let me learn how to use them for all their myriad purposes under the sun. I have no interest in picking up an instrument of death to learn the art of slaughter.

    Yet do not seem to have a problem learning the art of slaughter with tools that are inherently innocent?

    isn’t that a little contradictory?

    Bob S.

    • Hey Bob, thanks for your comments. I’m glad you found my post thought-provoking. First, let me say that I knew and know that there are lots of different perspectives which I respect. I think you can tell that I’m a little conflicted myself. Which is why I wrapped up my post by saying, “Perhaps I’m too nice, too kind, too sensitive. Perhaps someday I’ll feel differently. So let us all be free to do what we will, feel what we will, and love what we will.” So I encourage you to go on enjoying your pistols!

      That said, I do think that you’re being a little disingenuous when you say that “the sole purpose of a pistol is to expel a projectile down the barrel.” The tool is designed to put holes in human beings. The fact that you have found an innocent use — shooting targets — only proves my point. The pistol’s curve is the inverse of the hand, the stick, or the knife. It is a violent tool for which innocent uses must be cultivated, rather than an innocent tool for which violent uses must be cultivated.

      Also the fact that it only takes a few hours for a person to learn how to safely kill someone with a pistol also proves my point about the inverse curve. It takes years, decades even, to learn how to effectively use hands and sticks for violent means, maybe 6 months or a year for knives.

      And finally, I want to make clear that I’m not an anti-gun guy. Back in the 80s I was a Sergeant for a private security firm. I trained extensively, shot regularly, was a licensed armed guard, and for several years carried a .38. I just don’t want take firearms practice to a tactical level. I don’t want to study it, live it, and breathe it the way I do with hand, stick, and knife.

      I hope this makes sense. And I say again, let us all be free to do what we will, feel what we will, and love what we will. And I encourage you to go on enjoying your pistols!

      • Robert,

        I feel you are being a little disingenuous in your classification of firearms. Obviously some are better at killing then others but a .22LR pistol like the Browning Buckmark or a rifle like the ones used for Olympic Shooting competitions are not designed to be killing weapons.

        I’m not trying to be argumentative but it is extremely important that we get over the idea that firearms only have one purpose. Shotguns for skeet and trap shooting; using bird shot, aren’t killing weapons as another example. Can they be used? Absolutely, just like your kitchen knife can be used to kill.

        . It takes years, decades even, to learn how to effectively use hands and sticks for violent means, maybe 6 months or a year for knives.

        I don’t understand the attraction here or the point. I also disagree it takes months or years to learn to use a knife effectively. And hands and feet — well most of us grow up learning to use those effectively for violence.

        The inverse is also true but I may not have illustrated that very well; the presence and use of a firearm can reduce violence, not increase it. Kleck and Gertz found during a survey up to 2.5 MILLION defensive gun uses per year — a time where the presence or threat of a firearm stopped/prevented a crime from happening.Most never involve even drawing the firearm, few even involved firing a shot; so learning to use firearms effectively in a short time is a great way to reduce violence.

        just don’t want take firearms practice to a tactical level. I don’t want to study it, live it, and breathe it the way I do with hand, stick, and knife.

        Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations (to show my geek cred) – more power to you. I’m not asking you to change your ways.
        I’m just trying to get the world past the point of seeing firearms differently then any other inanimate object. Does it matter if I defend my life with a knife, a stick, my hands or a firearm?

        Does it matter if a criminal attacks me or a loved one with a knife, a stick, their hands or a firearm? We need to focus on the nature of the violence — predatory or protectionary instead of the tool.

        Bob S.

      • Robert Mitchell

        I thought I was pretty clear that I was talking about pistols. Long guns are completely different, and that’s a whole other conversation — there’s as much difference between a pistol and a long gun as there is between a knife and a sword. Please remember my post is a mystic’s view, not a scientific one. I’m talking about the view from a thousand feet up, not the nitty-gritty, technical view. You make some great points, but when you start gettin’ all statistical-like, you’re going in a direction I wasn’t wanting to go.

  2. Pingback: My New Every Day Carry (“EDC”) and WOOTW #62 | Robert Mitchell Jr.

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