About Me

I am a full-time law enforcement officer with experience in the Patrol, Tactical, and Gang Divisions and a part-time martial artist. I believe that law abiding citizens should learn to defend themselves with whatever tools they may legally carry. I am currently in the process of starting the "5 Rings Tactical" training school where I hope to encourage good people to become protectors of their own lives and the lives of their families. This blog will contain reviews of defensive and tactical products, all of which I have purchased with my own funds. I will try my best to give my honest and unbiased opinion of all the products featured. I hope to eventually make the items that prove to be of quality available to customers of 5 Rings Tactical. Before distributing any of these items, they will be purchased privately by me and evaluated. I do not pretend to be any type of expert or master. I'm just a guy trying to share my experiences with others. I am always looking for more training and good people to learn from.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Physical Fitness

When it comes to self-defense, I think people mistakenly see carrying a gun as an immediate shortcut. This kind of thinking permeates through all different groups of people, including armed professionals. I am constantly trying to persuade other police officers I work with to participate in some type of serious martial arts training like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, or Boxing. 
*Photo is of my Muay Thai coach and good friend, Randy Vera of South Austin Gym in Austin, TX.  He's the one on the left, administering the beat down.  If you're in the Austin area, go check out http://southaustingym.com/wiki/SAG/HomePage

If nothing else, join a gym and stick to a workout regimen. Check out a Crossfit gym. Do something. After all, cops are one of the few groups of people that run towards gun fire and fighting, not away from it. This means that the likelihood of a police officer getting into a deadly confrontation is much higher than that of the average person. We hear stories daily about other cops that have been shot, stabbed, or beaten and yet many officers don't feel compelled to exercise or train. The gun on the hip gives a false sense of security.

Now I won't argue that harming someone with a gun is probably easier and faster than using one's fists, or a sock with a pool ball inside of it. It doesn't mean that just having a gun in our pocket is going to keep us alive though. Sure some of us also go to the gun range every few weeks and shoot a pretty decent group. Ten ringing the target at 50 yards with a pistol? Not bad. Hell, I know a competitive target shooter who can probably shoot the left testicle off a fly at 50 yards. That same guy will tell you though, that he is not ready to use his gun in a fight. If you ask him about it, he'll look down bashfully and tell you two very hard-hitting facts.

1. "I can't shoot under stress."


2. "I wish I could see my penis without two mirrors."

Despite being such an awesome shot, my acquaintance admits he is overweight and realizes that physical fitness is incredibly important when it comes to defending yourself. I've met guys who never leave the house with less than two guns, five knives, and ninety-seven pounds of spare ammunition. I can't knock someone for being overly prepared... but some of these guys can't walk up the stairs without tossing enough cookies to feed a small continent of baby pigeons. What good are all those guns and knives if you are going to have a heart-attack ten seconds into the fight?

I'm not saying we need be UFC fighters or wear one strap singlets and grow handlebar mustaches. But we need to stay healthy. A fight, whether it be a gun fight, knife fight, or just a good old-fashioned beat down, is going to be stressful and physically straining. If you're heart is weak, your arteries are clogged, you have chronic diarrhea, or all three, it's going to adversely affect your chances of coming out of the fight alive. Can you imagine? Some deranged lunatic jumps on you and begins wailing away with a knife or club. Your heart is going to kick into overdrive. If your body isn't used to the adrenaline dump and the increased blood flow, your heart is going to stop... and you'll probably die before the bad guy even kills you. Plus, you have irritable bowl syndrome. So more than likely, you pooped your pants too. What good is that gun if you aren't in shape enough to handle the fight? What if you shoot and stop the bad guy, but you have a stroke or shart during the excitement? The gun did you little good.

Keeping our bodies maintained is every bit as important as having weapons when it comes to protecting ourselves and our families. We don't need to run marathons. God knows I could use a little extra exercise myself. But we do need to get regular exercise. So go put your sweatbands on and play those HIP HOP ABS and P90X Dvds. Your $3000 Wilson Combat .45 can protect you from a mugger, but it won't do anything against diabetes. Stay safe everyone. It's time for my own workout. Now where's my shake weight?

Reader Submitted FDE 2-27-2011 (First Reader FDE)


This is the first reader submitted FDE that 5 Rings Tactical has received! Our reader has chosen to remain nameless. However I can say that he is a mild-mannered, financial analyst and a responsible US citizen. He considers himself to be a moderate liberal, but believes in being legally armed to protect himself and his loved ones. This cubicle commando wears subdued black work shoes to blend into the urban jungle, but unlike most of the other nine-to-fivers around him, he's got a Heckler and Koch P2000 in his waist. Equipped with the H&K LEM trigger and filled to the brim with Federal 9mm +P hollow-point ammunition, this hand cannon is ready to defend the office from terrorists, disgruntled ex-employees, and uncooperative copy machines. That Xerox can't blink "PC Load Letter" if it's leaking toner from 8 different holes.

5 Rings Tactical salutes this anonymous hero for being our first reader submitted FDE. Good day sir!

FDE 2-27-2011

I was the only guy invited to a wedding shower for a close friend today. The occasion called for a slightly nicer shoe. I also picked a smaller gun to carry since I couldn't wear a large t-shirt. This was my first (and will probably be my only) wedding shower ever and I did not know what to expect. Wishing to always be prepared for the unknown, my Surefire Z2-S combat light rode closely by my side. You know, just in case there was a power outage or an opportunity to tell scary ghost stories. Just as a side note, I learned that no one tells ghost stories at wedding showers... but there are lots of pastel colored cookies... and glitter.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

FDE 2-26-2011


Today's fashionable defense ensemble consists of my Nighthawk 1911 and Spyderco P'Kal folding knife, matched with basketweave, cream colored Air Force I's. What are YOU carrying?

Friday, February 25, 2011

FDE 2-25-2011 (First FDE)

This is 5 Ring Tactical's first FDE (Fashionable Defensive Ensemble) of the Day. I will try to post a picture every day of what defensive tools I have chosen to wear, or what other defense-minded individuals are carrying.


The gun is a Kahr P40, worn in the appendix position, inside the waistband. The knife is a Spyderco P'Kal. The shoes are Jordan XIs in cool grey. Got to step the shoe game up! Should I find myself in a bad spot, they will help me run faster and jump higher. Mugger pulls a gun on me, I'm dunking on him.

Please feel free to post your own FDE. We want to know what the well dressed good guys are wearing!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

ShivWorks: Reverse Edge Methods DVD Volume I

I believe that if you are a law abiding citizen and can handle the responsibility, you should obtain a concealed handgun license, and discreetly tote around your hand-cannon whenever legal. Bad guys don't follow the rules and you never know when you or your loved ones will fall victim to a mugger, hijacker, rapist, murderer, psycho-path, hired assassin, gun wielding gang-banger, or a violent samurai that fell into a time portal and ended up in your neighborhood and century. That being said, I realize that some areas will not allow civilians to carry. Also, a lot of us are too lazy to go out and get the proper training and licensing for a gun, or we just don't want to lug the iron around. Whatever our excuse, we need to have SOME way of protecting ourselves. A knife is almost always legal to carry, and when used correctly, can be even more advantageous than a gun in certain situations. A knife is small, easily carried, and comes in handy for all sorts of chores as well as self-defense. There are not a lot of good excuses for not having a blade. I almost always have a knife on me, even when I'm carrying my gun.

I can hear the questions from some people now:

"What kind of knife should I buy?"

"Can I carry a sword?"

"Does it need to have blood grooves in the blade for efficient killing?"

"Who farted?"

At ease ladies and gentlemen. Before getting into the "hardware", it's important to look at the "software". Using a knife is not as simple as grab and stab. Well... actually it is... But using a knife efficiently and effectively for self-defense requires some actual training. You have to practice with your knife, just like with a gun or nunchuks. There are plenty of knife fighting systems out there, but the problem is that many of them are based on fancy, flashy moves, and are centered around "knife dueling". The ShivWorks system is direct and practical. It will not take years of meditating on mountains or waxing cars to learn.

I won't spend a lot of time talking about ShivWorks themselves. You can learn all you want by going to their website at www.shivworks.com. All I'll say is I have plenty of respect for the head guy "South Narc" and his methods. I carry a ShivWorks P'Kal knife, have watched and learned from most of their DVDs, and am enrolled in one of their upcoming Extreme Close Quarters Combat courses later this year. Compared to several other blade systems I've been exposed to, this method is simple and devastating, which is how defending your life with a knife should be.

The production quality of the DVD itself is nothing to write home about. It is simple and consists primarily of one stationary camera angle depicting the instructor, South Narc. I don't know if it is just a flaw with my personal copy, but there is a section near the end where the audio goes slightly out of sync. It makes South Narc look like he is teaching knife fighting to Shaolin monks in a Shaw Brothers movie. There is also no real DVD menu. It is only broken up into 4 sections. It would have been nice if the DVD had been broken up into techniques in case you wanted to review a certain move or section.

Those are all very minor flaws that I am only bringing up to give a fair assessment of the product. The information is presented in a concise and easy to understand way. South Narc knows what he is talking about and it shows in his instruction and demonstration. Here is what each section of the DVD gives you:

1. Reverse Edge Method
In this section, South Narc gives a brief bio about himself so you know he isn't some "mall ninja" that is going to teach you to rip out hearts and catch bullets. He also spends time going over the basic concepts of the Reverse Edge Method. This particular system utilizes a grip that those unfamiliar with Filipino martial arts would consider unconventional. The knife is held with either the tip up or tip down, but the sharp edge of the knife faces inwards. This means the sharp part of the blade is actually facing you and not your opponent.

2. Pikal Point Down Edge In
In this chapter, South Narc goes over techniques and applications specifically from the point down grip. He covers grip mechanics for the drawing of the knife and shares defensive and offensive strikes with the knife. You will learn how to deploy the blade from close quarters as well as use the knife to cut your attacker even when he/she is blocking your strikes. South Narc demonstrates strikes and combinations on his assistant who is wearing a giant helmet. Watching him get smacked around is informative and amusing.

3. Forward Grip Edge Up

Like the title demonstrates, this section is about techniques from the point up grip. South Narc wears his knives along his belt in different orientations, each one lends itself to a quick draw in either the tip up or tip down grip. Learning the movements from both grips will let you take complete advantage of the system. South Narc also covers engaging your attacker with your knife when your assailant is already on top of you or clinching you. Oh, and more giant helmet punching.

4. ShivWorks Tools
This section covers some of the tools that ShivWorks has put out and made available to the public. South Narc shows off some of the ShivWorks custom knives like the Disciple and the Clinch Pick. All of the ShivWork knives are are ergonomically designed for the reverse edge grip, are razor sharp, and easily carried.
(Pictures are from ShivWorks website http://shivworks.com/products.asp)

Overall I really liked this DVD and the ShivWorks system. You don't have to be Jet Li to learn and use the techniques taught on this video. I have drilled many of these moves over and over with friends and co-workers interested in learning. We all feel confident that we would be able to use our blades more effectively now based on this training. Even those of us that are small, weak, or fat and out of shape. South Narc is a great instructor and gets all his points across in the video. It would have been nice for the DVD to include specific drills. The information is mostly given in a lecture format, but you will absorb what you are supposed to learn. The focus of the system is on the extreme close quarters distance. You will learn to get your knife into play even while you are defending yourself from your opponent's strikes already. Many knife fighting systems show two guys squaring off with knives in hand. There is a lot of dancing around and complicated footwork. It looks good, but that isn't realistic. Most of the time, the bad guy is going to be on you before you have a weapon in your hand. South Narc realizes this and addresses the problem accordingly.

Defending oneself with a knife is something that is incredibly violent. In today's society, most of us are distanced from this level of violence and it is no longer natural. You don't want to suddenly find yourself in a situation where you have to protect your family with nothing but a sharp piece of metal and you haven't taken any steps to prepare yourself. Mentally prepare yourself for bad situations and tough decisions, then get this DVD or enroll in a class.

I have to throw in a few warnings here. DO NOT PRACTICE WITH A LIVE BLADE! There are plenty of training knives out there. In fact, every knife that ShivWorks has put out also comes in a "trainer". It is bad enough that there are bad guys out there trying to cut us up and take our wallets. Let us not do it to each other please. Also, no video or book is ever going to replace real instruction from a qualified teacher. I know. I read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I'm still just moderately effective. Having a martial arts and defensive tactics background, I was able to take a lot from watching this video, however I am still seeking training from certified ShivWorks instructors.