I really enjoy your writing - it's as "atmospheric" as anything I've ever read; I almost feel like I'm there. Your site is one of the first ones I check every day.
One of the regrets I've had over the years is that I never learned any sort of personal self-defense techniques. I do carry a small .380 (and was instructed in its use by my Marine Corps son, who was a pistol instructor), but that's not appropriate for all situations.
At age 62, it's probably too late to learn, but I do avidly read all of your stick and knife fighting material just for the interest.
Keep on being "Out There" for us, and keep on writing.
Thanks for the kind words, La Mano.
Your survival needs should be met primarily be weapons and your empty hand skills should follow U.S. military doctrine to act as a bridge to weapon action. You fight with your hands only when you do not have a weapon and then, to get your hands on a weapon.
Boxing works for old guys.
Limit your pursuit to slapping and checking the heavy bag, punching a speed bag and developing the spear-hand or finger jab. Your footwork should stay basic step and drag.
The most important boxing skill for you is measuring and indexing, which is to say, keep these young bastards from grappling with you by using a tactile stiff-arm and learn to punch the chin or solar plexus with the other hand based on that tactile sense. If it is dark and you’re just waking up, if you have one hand on him, you know where the chin is, unless he is from Alpha Centuri, in which case I suggest you activate your self-detonation bracelet…
You should set up a speed bag, which is very good for your heart—like conducting a symphony. Make sure your heart is good and then work the speed bag as a conditioning rhythm device. The speed bag helps with close knife work and keeping up your hands when you are tired. Most important is to hit the bag with your hands up but your shoulders down, meaning relaxed. This means the speed bag facilitates power by teaching you to relax your shoulders.
For using the fingers as a weapon, cone them slightly, bent into a three-finger weapon with the thumb and the pinkie riding on the side as buttresses. Plunge [slowly at first] this finger cone into a bucket of dry rice or dried beans to condition your hand. The important thing is not to straighten the fingers. This weapon is for blinding. You only strike the eye with this—no martial arts bull shit with the leopard hand, etc.
For targeting hang a piece of paper and work on thrusting right into the eye and also raking it as you step off and pivot to the outside, by punching through and tearing the paper. Once your hand is used to maintaining this spear configuration and rake the speed bag.
The punches you really want to work on are two:
1. The power jab to the chin
2. The right hand to the chin or solar plexus.
Higher jabs should be spear-hands to the eye or open hand checks to the forehead.
To really throw the lead rear hand you must step off obliquely to the opposite side with the lead foot, placing your head just to the outside of his young shoulder while you drive your rear hand down the middle, pushing off with the rear foot. This is a step and push action, getting all your weight into it. Use it against squared-off antagonists and anyone walking right up to you to push or chest bump. For more cagey adversaries spear their eye and step off with your rear foot to the side.
As far as weaponry, the knife is going to get you in as much shit as the gun in a lot of jurisdictions. So let’s work on the stick, which can translate to umbrella and cane work. I’m talking that foot-long hand umbrella. For home defense use the largest flashlight you can get.
La Mano, old guys have strong hands. Learn the basics of stick fighting. Limit your footwork to the basic boxing steps, the weak-side pivot and the inside and outside reverse triangles that are found in Twerps, Goons and Meatshields.
By careful developing your forearms and do this on the bag, by getting a 24-inch stick and beating the bag without moving your elbow, this develops your forearm. Basically, by doing this, you can develop enough power in your forehand so that you can check the young punk with your left and smash his head in with a flashlight without swinging from the shoulder or even raising the elbow. If you learn this there is really no defense against it for a committed attacker who is not a high level boxer or stick fighter, and these are the guys you plan on being friends with, who rarely choose mugging as a past time...
After a few weeks, practice pumping the elbow away from the ribs and into the target and then slashing through to your far short ribs, keeping that stiff arm active checking the bag.
With a stick you need the checking hand, the forehand smash to the head and collar bone, the forehand slash to the face and hand, the backhand beat and your evasive footwork in the triangle to either side.
La Mano, keep the elder pimp hand subtle, for you never know when a punk will need slapping down. Oh yes, add a young, lithe-hipped girl to your stable, so you can save your cardio for bag work. At your age, the lady should be doing most of the work.