Self-Defense in the classroom is in your head and under your butt

A multiple stabbing attack by a lone perpetrator in a Pennsylvania school, in which more than 20 were wounded, has everyone crying for more metal detectors in schools, and for more guns in the hands of teachers, other school personnel and even students.

Now, I’m a big proponent of an armed citizenry. I think an armed citizenry is one of the greatest, most effective deterrents to crime.

But when I heard about this incident, my first thought was, “Whatsamatta, weren’t there any chairs in that school?”

I believe this particular attack could have been curtailed without a single gun. In a school setting, the key to defense against a knife-wielder is in your head and under your butt.

The “under your butt” part is the chair. If you don’t think a chair can be effective in defending against a knife attack, watch just this one video as an example:


The fellow in the video is a trained martial artist, but one can be a complete amateur and mount a very effective defense with a chair, especially if the attacker is an amateur. Four or five students wielding chairs can fairly easily neutralize and detain a single knife attacker. And a classroom is chock-full of any number of other objects that can be used as defensive (or even offensive) weapons.

But this is where the “in your head” part comes in.

Imagine, if you will, such a knife attack taking place in a room full of Spartan children, or Viking children, or Zulu children? How about Gurkha children, or Apache children? Or, if you still don’t get where I’m going with this, how about a room full of Klingon children?

Because those are all great warrior cultures. And I guarantee you that in none of them would children be trained and encouraged -- make that indoctrinated -- to be passive and non-combative the way that “modern” American children are (not to mention the way so many American boys are Ritalined into passivity).

Rather than pick up their chairs to use against the attacker the way a circus lion-tamer uses a chair to keep a 400 lb. mass of teeth, claws and muscle at bay, these kids probably froze, or cowered, or reached for their cellphones to dial 9-1-1 (as they’d undoubtedly been trained to do no matter what the crisis) and then waited for the authorities to ride to their rescue.

Long ago, in the dim ages, when I was a kid growing up in NYC, I always had my Cub Scout or Boy Scout knife in my pocket, as did most of my friends. We would never have thought of stabbing our classmates, but we were always aware that the need to defend ourselves might occur at any time.

And after our scout meetings, when we’d “bop down to Chinatown” or to “The Village”, there were some blocks where we’d have our knives out, opened and held in front of us as we walked. It was a deterrent. It let any bad guys know we weren’t about to be victimized.

When I was in high school and rode the “A” train from 14th St. all the way to Harlem every day, I’d size up every other male on the subway car, thinking, “Could I take him if I had to?” We hadn’t heard the term “situational awareness”, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t part of our day-to-day life. When I learned that one of the mottos of the USMC  (another great warrior culture) is “Be polite, be courteous, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet,” I said to myself, “Gee, I’ve been following that advice for years!”

Thank God not all Americans are now steeped in passivity. Todd “Let’s Roll” Beamer and his fellow passengers on Flight 93 realized that there is a time to fight, even if you’re up against a deadly weapon and you have little more than seat cushions and rolled-up magazines. What would have happened had they all just cowered in their seats?

Just as our kids are taught to scan a room for the fire exits, they should be taught to scan for objects that can be utilized for self-defense. For example, the flagpole at the front of the classroom could be very handy in keeping an attacker at a distance. Or do they not have flagpoles in classrooms anymore, because the flag might be “offensive” to illegal aliens?

A lot of attitudes are going to have to change.

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