Understanding Self Defense: Passive and Active

Richard Maida
By Richard Maida February 1, 2017 21:57

Understanding Self Defense: Passive and Active

The Seven Sisters of Urban Survival (Part VII)

Passive security is a matter of putting as many layers or barriers between you and your family and the bad guys outside who may want to get in. It is necessary to understand, however, that the average person is not going to be living in any kind of “bunker”. In most cases, you will be in your house or apartment and that no barriers you can put up are going to stop a determined intruder. Its value is in deterring the jackals who look for anything weak and easy to get into. Also, providing time for you to get the family to a safe room or area, and for you to arm yourself. Plan with them where they need to go in such a case.

If the home is your “safe haven” and you can make the modification, invest in solid doors without windows and solid frames to attach deadbolt locks too. The best lock means nothing if the frame cannot hold. I know a foolish person who puts a bar under the knob of a front door which has a large glass oval in it. Sliding glass doors can be blocked or “pinned” with a solid metal pin (cost $3.00 in most hardware stores).

If you rent and can’t make changes, block all entrances with furniture but make sure you can pull them out of the way from your side in case you should need to get out quickly due to fire or other emergencies. (Have at least one home fire extinguisher as part of your personal security.)

If your area is lower risk, a 72-hour event has less chance of a security problem. The jackals will be hitting the stores and malls if they can. The security threat increases, however, for every day past the 72 hours. History has shown, from events like Katrina and Hurricane Sandy that the makeup of your area clearly influences your risk factors. If you are in a bad area prepare for the worst.


We will discuss various means of active defense, types of knives, firearms or hand to hand combat, but NONE of that will do any good if you are NOT mentally prepared to do what you must do. Forget the computer games and the camo crowd. This is for REAL.


Our first step in active defense during a 72-hour event is hand to hand combat. Some may question this as the image many have of home defense is facing the bad guy down with your 12 gauge shotgun, or pistol.  There is something that some of us have learned from sometimes bitter experience.



I know the feeling. There are many firearms I like for their look and feel, from the Luger to the Broom Handled Mauser; others for their effectiveness, such as the .45 auto. I am prepared to use what I have in a situation. But I also know Mr. Murphy loves combat and throws in every monkey wrench he can such as jams, feed problems, safeties still on, round not chambered, firing pins breaking, gas tubes busting, ammo failure and God only knows what else.

Along with all that is the need to have that weapon right with you right when you need it. If you ever were in the combat arms and humped a weapon day and night, you know you want to clean it and rack it as soon as you can. The Hollywood/TV image of people walking around with weapons all the time is a crock. You might be able to have a holster for a pistol or tuck it into a belt, but you will soon find how uncomfortable that is unless you’ve done it day after day. And lastly, right at the moment of combat, your weapon might get knocked away.

So now it’s man to man, hand to hand, so this is NOT the time to be thinking of what to do. You need to act swiftly and effectively. I have a great respect for the various martial arts and those who work very hard to attain their belts and levels. In my opinion, however, what works in a tournament with rules and judges doesn’t work quite so well in a dim lit, furniture filled in the living room. I fall back on what Scott French called the “mother-in-law” fighting style,  namely you hit them with a brick, stick, car antenna, mother-in-law, or anything else, as there is neither fighting styles or rules in this game. It’s kill or be killed.


Every part of the body is a target, and anything at hand is a weapon. –David Beall

Generally, anything goes, from lamp to ashtray. A good sheath knife that you can wear on your belt is advisable. The choice is up to you as your taste and your budget allows. When it comes to “survival” knives, stick to good quality firms if you can. For basic use, I prefer the air force survival knife. You can find a number of less expensive copies. As a pure fighting knife, I prefer the Gerber Mark II. Don’t look down your nose at a kitchen knife, however. Even a cheap one can be thrust into the bad guy’s eye.

Any discussion of firearms would take a book or two. My advice is to keep them simple, basic and as economical as possible. For home defense, I prefer a plain vanilla pump 12 gauge shotgun. Next up would be a rifle for longer range. A .22LR will work, but a used 30-06 deer rifle will do the job at a longer range with a lot more knockdown power. Pistols are trickier due to the various laws but don’t go under a .22LR. A .25 auto may be better than nothing, but not by much. 9mm’s are good but a serious investment.

I consider any AR-15 style rifle too much of a problem. A mini-14 will fire the same round and attract hardly any attention if someone happens to see you with it. If you want to trick it out, there are folding stock kits you can get and have on hand to convert it over if the time comes and NOT before.

A note here concerning ammo, have plenty for what you have and if possible some 9mm and 5.56mm as these are the two most common calibers of the weapons of those you may have to fight. Once they are neutralized, you can add their weapons to your side and have ammo for them.


Mama Donna and I have a deep respect for human life and for people in general. We are realistic, however. If during normal times, we have an invader, we will retreat as reasonably as we can and call the police. We will resort to defensive measures if there is no reasonable alternative. If I have to fire upon an attacker, I will go for the legs and feet to incapacitate them. This is because the goal here is to either frighten them off or stop them long enough for the police to arrive but in a non-life threatening manner.

During some kind of event, however, where I know the police can’t get to us due to having their hands full, blocked roads, or lack of communication, I will not hesitate to aim center mass and pull the trigger. They can put me on trial later if they wish.

If you come to that moment of truth, you can’t hesitate. You have put up the food and water to survive. None of that is any good if you and your wife are dead, believe me, these are animals, they will kill.

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Richard Maida
By Richard Maida February 1, 2017 21:57
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  1. Robert B February 18, 01:47

    Great article. I am a retired police officer and in 2007, I was shot through my foot during a search warrant entry by a bad guy with a 9mm that opened up on us as soon as we began making entry. It felt like a sledge hammer hitting my foot and immediately took me down. After a brief sharp, hot pain, total numbness. For a few seconds, I suffered auditory deprivation meaning I was useless for about 10 seconds. I didn’t hear the subsequent gunshots. So, the point is, a regular 9mm “ball round” will take someone down. DO NOT GIVE UP THE FIGHT.

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  2. Richard P. Maida February 19, 15:58

    Thanks for your input and for your service. As one who has one nephew in law enforcement and one who is now medically retired from an on the job incident, I know where you are coming from. No one knows what they will do if that time comes where it’s kill or be killed, but I hope none of us will every have to see it, or in your case, see it again.

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