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.
* 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.