I just took my 6-year-old son, Tristan, to the Halloween store this week to put the finishing touches on his trick-or-treat costume.
After picking up a black body suit and two plastic Ninja swords to unleash an unsuspecting fury on any foolish householder not willing to fork over the loot (that's my boy!), I noticed something.
Halloween stores are a close combat trainer's paradise when it comes to training for edged weapon defense.
Now I'm not talking about grabbing your own Ninja outfit for your next trip to the mat with your training partner.
But once you open your eyes to the incredible props that are available to you for just these few short weeks out of the year, you'll see that you can make your edged weapon defense training more realistic for a few measly bucks.
Here are a few things I found at my local store.
Training knife: $2.50
I've seen training knives go for as much as $20 in martial arts catalogs. But the rubber ones these days look so incredibly realistic, silver blade and all, that it makes little sense to invest in expensive training models.
Look for one that already looks "bloody," like the one at my local shop. This added effect that's meant to scare other trick-or-treaters adds visual realism to edged weapon defense training.
Fake blood: 99 cents
Sorry. Defending yourself from an edged weapon doesn't work as perfectly as it does in the movies or on training DVD's, where you're able to kick the knife easily out of your attacker's hand.
In a real knife fight, you're pretty much guaranteed to get cut at some point, and blood has a dual drawback for the defender. For one, the sight of a large amount of blood can be enough to put you into shock and make you less effective at defending yourself. And second, blood is slippery and can make it harder for you to grasp your attacker's hand and stop the stabbing.
Stage blood looks and feels like the real thing and is a great training tool for your edged weapon training.
Stock up now while it's only about a buck and, during your training, put some on your hands and forearms (the most likely spots you'd get cut) right before defending yourself from a knife attack.
Fake machete: $12.95
Oh, you thought that people are attacked only by four-inch pocket knives?
Six years ago, a woman in my upscale neighborhood was attacked by a man with a machete in her own driveway
Particularly for soldiers, the chances of facing an attacker wielding a machete aren't as uncommon as you may think.
At my local Halloween shop, I found a great fake machete that was relatively heavy, durable and even had an inner chamber where the blood oozed around the blade.
(Call me twisted if you must, but the more realistic my edged weapon defense training, the better.)
Red lipstick makeup: 50 cents
Here's one of my favorite edged weapon training tips.
Grab several inexpensive red lipstick makeup containers from your local store. Since these are for kids, the lipstick is meant to wash out of clothes easily.
Next, right before your edged weapon training session with your partner, apply some lipstick to the edge of your rubber training knife.
Now when you go through your knife disarm training, the red lipstick marks on your clothes will show you exactly where you would have been cut if you had been using a real knife.
Realism is a key component when it comes to training to defend against a knife, and just a few dollars and a little creativity around Halloween is all you need to take your edged weapon defense training to the next level.
Oh, and here's a bonus tip: Wait until the day after Halloween, and you'll probably find each of these items at about 50% off if there are any left on the shelves.
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Jeff Anderson is a 10-year veteran of the U.S. Army, a master instructor of close quarters combat self-defense and president of the International Society of Close Quarter Combatants. A full-time, self-defense author and instructor, Anderson has trained military, law enforcement and civilians in advanced close quarter combat tactics for "real-life" self-defense.
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