Friday, 25 September 2015

Something for the Ladies? Arwrology Ankle Clamp Throw.

             Long ago, in my nights in the capoeira roda my “jogo” was noted for a number of characteristics. One was a very well-timed front thrust kick that many of my companions never saw coming until they were staring at the sole of my foot. My other characteristic was how rarely I would use techniques that took me close to the ground. I had been a small child who had grown to above average height as an adult. Deliberately making myself shorter in front of an opponents was something that did not come naturally to me. Also, given my height such moves were somewhat slower for me than when performed by some of the shorter capoeirista. My height and the related traits may have been the reason that I did not pay particular attention to the ankle clamp throws when I was rereading “Arwrology” the other week. Why would I use an ankle clamp throw when a shoulder jerk or head twist is a very more natural and quicker technique for me? 

             The other night I was relaxing at home watching TV when there was a sequence where a female character was ordered to her knees by the bad guy. That might be a good situation to turn the tables with an ankle clamp throw! The love of my life is about a foot shorter than me and half the weight (or less!). Obviously some of the techniques that I favour are not so useful for her. Fools who want to give themselves an illusion of power often make their intended victims beg or grovel. I’m sure many of my readers can think of various ruses where they might get into position for a counter attack such as the ankle clamp.

             Arwrology describes the ankle clamp as having four variations depending on which side of the foe you are on and whether your head is “face forward” or “back”. I am going to describe the technique in my own words in the hope that an alternate description may make it easier for some students to understand.


             Readers who have read my book will know that I prefer to teach the underlying physical and anatomical principles of a technique. Ankle clamp is fundamentally the same as many throws :- you disrupt the foe’s balance and prevent him changing his footing to compensate.
             I will describe two variations of ankle clamp since the significant parameter is whether you place your bent knee before or behind the enemy’s foot.

             Approach the foe from the side and position your bent knee so that it is in front of his nearer foot (pic. above). Your other foot is placed behind the foe, sole down and thigh parallel to the ground. This is important since the upward thrust from this leg powers the technique. You can rest your same side arm on your knee, which acts as an aide memoire. Since your bent knee was placed in front of the foe your torso goes behind his legs. Once your feet are in position do not hesitate in continuing the technique. You need to be smooth and fast to prevent the enemy realizing what you are up to and countering you. In the photo above the officer is drawing attention to the foe's dagger and that the throw needs to me completed before this can be employed on the thrower.
             The arm that is nearest to the enemy we will call the “lead arm” (right arm in the photo above). The other arm, the one you can rest on your thigh we will call the trailing arm. Coil your leading arm around the outside of the foe’s far leg. At the same time slip your trailing arm between his legs and grip the wrist of your lead arm to join them together. You now use your arms to raise that leg up, thrusting down on the foot that is sole down to provide power. If you imagine you placed your bent knee to “the north” you are throwing the leg you hold to the south or south west. Effectively you are throwing the enemy’s balance north or north east and the position of your bent knee and the calf and thigh around it prevents him moving his other foot forward to compensate. These directions are approximate. How you break the foe’s balance will depend on an individual’s stance and reaction.


              The other variation is when you place your bent knee on the ground behind the foe’s foot. This is the variation the book calls “Head Back”. Your other leg with the sole on the ground will be to the front or out to the side. Once again, you reach your lead arm around the outside of the foe’s leg. Your other hand slips between his legs and joins with the lead arm to lift his leg. The main difference is that in this variation you lead arm will reach across the front of his legs rather than coming from behind. Since in this variant the foe can look down and see what you are doing there is a greater chance of them kicking out or striking the thrower. The solution to this is to make the technique smooth, fast and without hesitation. As the Arwrology book says elsewhere “if anyone can see what you are doing, you are doing it too slowly!”

             That is the essence of the ankle clamp throw. To make the technique more fluid the original book proposed a simple drill involving two lines of soldiers. One line was to be thrown, the second was tasked with catching the thrown me. A student would then precede down one line, throwing each man in turn. Once the entire line had been toppled the next student would do the same, and so on until each man had thrown dozens of different opponents using the ankle clamp.
 

http://www.angelfire.com/art/enchanter/epsdbook.html 
http://www.lulu.com/shop/http://www.lulu.com/shop/phil-west/survival-weapons-optimizing-your-arsenal/paperback/product-21488758.html

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Arwrology Drill.

           Kata or forms can be a divisive subject in martial arts. Some folks love them so much there are actual kata competitions. Bruce Lee was not a big fan. If I recall correctly this was the subject of his comment about worshiping boats. “A boat is just something to get you to the next place. Once you have crossed the river you leave it and move on, you do not stay to worship it”. That was not his exact words, and he may have made this comment about another topic but I think the sentiment he describes is still worth reflection.
            Readers of my book or this blog will know of my admiration for tai chi. To many people tai chi is nothing but a form or kata. This is not actually the case but this is a common perception. The tai chi forms have many layers of meaning and application. Just beneath the health and meditative layers the movements train you in a broad range of defensive and counter offensive movements. Many has been a time I have been working a solution to a problem in self-defence and suddenly realised that a particular action is the same as taught in one part of a tai chi movement. A “clothesline” across the throat is the hooked palm of single whip, a jerk on the shoulders the elbow dropping of the beginning moves and so on.
            Regular readers will know that I have been looking at the wartime Arwrology book recently. In one section, around page 55 a sequence of strikes is shown as a drill and I did think at the time of reading that this was a rather nice basic kata.
            This weekend I got to look at a copy of “American Arwrology” by Fred C Bauer. This is one of those books that seem mainly intended to whet a student’s appetite and cause them to want to learn more on a course. Many of the topics and techniques of the original Arwrlogy book are not included, which is a shame since certain techniques I would have been grateful to see described from a different perspective. The book does have some interesting content and insights however, so do not take this to be a negative review.
 
            Bauer devotes a large section to a sequence he calls “D-55”. This is the drill shown on page 55 of the original book. If you have ever undergone parachute training or certain other types of military training you will know that they will often involve long periods of repetition. These movements become so ingrained that when the jump master shouts “in the door” you are there in launch position without really thinking about it. By the time you realise he has said “Go!” you have gone!
            Drills like D-55 and other useful katas have the same effect. When you realise an attack is coming your elbow strike, knife hand or palm heel explodes out and hits a target.
            D-55 is a very nice drill of honing your basic counter-offensive techniques. It can be performed on empty air but it is also recommended to put some time in using it against a punch bag. The original moves are:-
  •  Right elbow strike, outward
  •  Right knife hand. The previous elbow strike sets the knife hand up.
  •  Left hand, punch.
  •  Left knee strike.
  •  Left elbow strike, inward. Follow through of this sets up an outward elbow strike with the same arm.
  •  Left elbow strike, outward
  •  Left knife hand. The previous elbow strike sets the knife hand up.
  •  Right hand, punch.
  •  Right knee strike.
  •  Right elbow strike, inward.
  •  Back to start and repeat. 
 
            Bauer does a nice job of illustrating that some of these movements can be changed. In the original book the punch is described as straight from boxing. Bauer’s book shows a low, vertical fist impacting with the first two knuckles. Those of you who have read Jack Dempsey or the section on bone alignment when punching in my book may be puzzled by the latter. I believe this strike is intended for the softer lower area of the body and may use the upper knuckles because of an upward curving action, rather like stabbing a knife up into the diaphragm. I’m a bit above average height so this punch following the knife hand feels more natural as a higher blow and since heads are bony it becomes a palm heel strike. Following a hand strike with a knee strike from the same side can seem a little awkward for some people so potentially you could swap that over to a strike with the other side knee, incorporating more changes of sides during the drill. My karate background makes some of these moves with a hikate of the other arm. Knee strikes are often made when hanging on to someone so I make them with a simulated grab and pull back of the “opponent” as the knee strikes.
           Drills such as this are not some magic ritual that needs to be performed exactly. Moves can be varied to suit the individual or just for variety.
The Books
http://www.angelfire.com/art/enchanter/epsdbook.html 
http://www.lulu.com/shop/http://www.lulu.com/shop/phil-west/survival-weapons-optimizing-your-arsenal/paperback/product-21488758.html

Thursday, 17 September 2015

"Ed's Breads" and other Flour recipies

           In one of my recent posts about mess kits I mentioned that my cooking techniques inspired in my fellow travellers a degree of curiosity and even envy. This was because I travelled with basic ingredients such as flour and porridge rather than (often heavier) pre-packaged meals.

           Most hikers live off packets of rice and pasta until they are sick of it. A mountain hut warden I once met in Iceland claimed he had to resort to cooking his own food in a separate building since the smell of real meat could cause riots.

           My friend Ed is a man of similar traits so I will start today’s blog with some recipes of his in his own words. This is a selection of recipes for flour that he uses when hiking in Wyoming. Some of my own comments and variations in section two. (I once forwarded these recipes to another friend who was a gamekeeper and ex-soldier. Much to his wife's amusement he could not stop making and eating flatbreads!)

Ed's Breads. 

FLATBREAD
Ingredients:  Water, flour
Procedure:  Fill coffee-can approximately half full with water. Shake flour into water approximately one spoonful at a time.
            Stir each addition of flour into water before adding more. When mixture is a thick batter, stir busily for two or three minutes before adding more flour.
            Continue to add flour and stir until mixture is a wet dough. Turn out onto floured cloth and knead with small additions of flour until dough is shiny and stiff.
            Tear off egg-sized pieces of dough and pat flat and thin (1/8" or a bit thicker).
            Bake flattened pieces of dough in greased lid of largest cookpot, uncovered, for roughly thirty seconds per side; turn promptly at the first hint of burning.
           This is the ancient Egyptian pta, older by far than the pyramids, older than agriculture, the first bread. In India, it's a chuppatti, in Mexico a tortilla. Eat it rolled around butter and honey for breakfast (be careful, it drips), or cold sliced turkey ham for lunch, or curried lentils for dinner. Remember to pat out as many cakes as you plan to eat before starting to bake them:-the skillet-time is very short, and you'll quickly run through all your prepared cakes. Don't hesitate to bake more flatbread then you'll eat at one sitting, because they can be carried for days and eaten cold at any time. Or you can re-heat and soften a chuppatti by laying it over the open top of a steaming teakettle for a few seconds. Uncooked flatbread dough can be wrapped in plastic and kept for several days.


SODA FLATBREAD
Ingredients:  Water, flour, one tablespoon baking powder
Procedure:  Fill coffee-can approximately half full with water. Stir in baking powder.  Shake flour into water approximately one spoonful at a time. Stir, knead, form cakes, and bake as for plain flatbread.
           This will make a somewhat lighter flatbread.  If the dough is allowed to sit for a few minutes before rolling out, the cakes may expand as they bake, sometimes developing into regular balloons of bread.  If so, good.


RICH FLATBREAD
Ingredients: Water, flour, one tablespoon baking powder, one-third to one-half cup vegetable oil
Procedure:  Fill coffee-can approximately half full with water. Stir in baking powder. Add oil. Add flour, stir, knead, form cakes, and bake as for plain flatbread.           These will be crisper than ordinary flatbread cakes.

SORTA BANNOCKS
Ingredients: Self-rising flour, water, small amount of cooking oil
Procedure: Fill coffee-can approximately half full with water. Add oil. Stir flour into water approximately one spoonful at a time.  Stir, knead, and bake as for campbread, but reduce baking time to 45 minutes maximum.
           This is becoming my campbread of choice, just because it's so easy. You can fancy it up with chopped dried fruit, nuts, and so on. Conversely, you can mix in cooked peas or lentils, cooked carrots, cooked chopped onions, etc., and make a serious ration bread for times when you need nourishment but can't build a fire.

 
CAMP BREAD
Ingredients:  Flour, warm water, two or three packages dry yeast, vegetable oil, honey, one handful raisins, one handful whole or chopped walnut meats
Procedure:  Fill coffee can half full with warm water. Dissolve honey in water. Add yeast to mixture and stir.
           Wait 15-20 minutes or until a layer of brown foam has formed on the surface of the water. Add vegetable oil (about one cup for a large batch of bread), raisins, walnuts, and about two cups of flour. Stir well. Continue to add flour while stirring until dough becomes too thick to handle with spoon. Turn dough onto floured cloth and knead until shiny. Return to coffee can, cover with damp cloth, and allow to raise for about 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in mass. Turn dough onto floured cloth, knead briefly, and form into a loaf by hand.
           Put seven or eight clean one-inch granite pebbles and a half-inch of water in the bottom of the pot. Wrap the bottom of the dough in heavily oiled aluminium foil and rest it on top of the pebbles. Cover the pot tightly.
           Suspend the pot about an inch above a bed of coals and leave it there for two or three hours, or overnight if you mean to let the campfire die down. Depending on altitude, it may be necessary to turn the loaf over about halfway through the baking process.
           An hour and a quarter over hot coals would normally be enough. But once sleet was falling through a black night and I had had enough of standing in my poncho watching the campfire. I gave up and crawled into the tent; fire danger registered zero that night.
           In the AM (bright and sunny, as it usually is in the Big Horns -- and colder'n hell too), after shattering the 1/2" of ice on the tent fly, we crawled out and found that a) the fire was still alive and b) the bread was done to perfection. Luck, I suppose, but I think this approach could work under other conditions too.
           This bread is one of the great staples of the trail. It's best when eaten in chunks torn roaring hot off a fresh-baked loaf.  It's next best when sliced and toasted over a new morning fire.  It's still mighty welcome even when all you're doing is building a cheese sandwich, somewhere on the trail to Nameless Lake.


Section Two.
           Note that lichens can also be used as yeast and in some environments a batter mix will naturally become contaminated with wild yeast, particularly if left in a warm place and originally made with warm water.
           Take a portion of this mix and thicken with flour etc as described above to make your bread or pancakes. Keep the rest of the culture going by regularly adding warm water, a little sugar and flour or uneaten breadstuff. If you have it an occasional teaspoon of vinegar will be appreciated by the yeast. You can transport this culture in a closed top container (the yeast is anaerobic so needs no air) -but allow room for expansion.

Other Doughs.
           The basic dough of just flour and water (with maybe a hint of salt) is much improved by giving it a good kneading. I've seen it suggested that you should add boiling water to the flour, but cold works too and smells a lot better.
           Kneaded for ten minutes or so this is the stuff used to make the pancakes served with Peking Duck and the pastry for potsticker dumplings.
           Call them tortillas and fry them to make crisp tacos, or use more oil to make soft tacos.
           You can also cut this dough into strips and then drop it into boiling water to make fresh noodles -you can add an egg to the mix, but it's not essential. Not the world's best pasta, but I've been served a lot worse. You can also fry your noodles -unlike dried ones you needn't boil them first.

 The other basic mix I use is known as Twister mix:-
           Flour -about half a cup.
           Baking powder -around a teaspoon, maybe less.
           Teaspoon of sugar (or honey or syrup)
           Pinch of salt
           blob of fat, butter, meat drippings etc.
           Water. -couple of tablespoons, often less.

 
           The sugar and salt are optional and quantities are varied depending on what you are making. You can also do without the fat, or use oil as Ed does, which saves the job of rubbing the fat into the flour (melting the fat beforehand is a good trick too).
           Once all the dry ingredients are mixed, gradually add the water till you have a dough. Ed's method of adding the dry stuff to the water is a good idea since I usually add too much water and have to pile in more flour.
           I've seen it written that once the water is added doughs with baking powder should be handled as little as possible to avoid driving the evolved gases out. My personal experiments with this indicate that my bread is improved by kneading it till smooth -maybe I've just got cold hands.
           This dough can be improved by adding nuts and fruit, adding spices, eggs or using milk in place of the water.
           I've read that fresh snow can substitute for eggs in pancake batter:- I've yet to try it. The white ash left after a fire is supposed to be a substitute for baking powder.
            Made as a dough the above mix can be wrapped around a stick to make twister bread, or as a flattened round (bannock) to bake either in a vessel or directly on the coals. Dropped in a stew or steamed a ball makes a fair dumpling.
           If you have a vessel to cook in you can add more water to make it as a thick batter and avoid the kneading. Just drop a blob onto your frying pan. Made as a thinner batter it makes a pretty good pancake even without any egg added. Knock up some syrup from sugar, water and any fruit juice you may have.

           Several ways of cooking dough have been mentioned already.

           You'll notice that Ed bakes his bread in a billy, and this can be a good way if you can pile coals around and on top of the vessel, or better still place it in an "Imu" (cooking hole).
           You'll also notice that the dough is not in direct contact with the sides of the vessel :- you'll have a merry time trying to get the bread out if you let this happen!
           Personally, I like to cook my bannocks in a frying pan since I usually have to use a stove rather than a campfire.
           Lightly grease the base, or if you have no fat, dust with flour. Place the dough or thick batter into the pan and cook over a gentle heat, turning as necessary.
           If cooking on a fire, once a crust is formed the pan is propped up beside the fire to brown the top of the loaf. If firm enough the bread is propped up to stand on its own. Placing a metal plate or pan lid over the frying pan and placing coals on top is another method.
          Dough mixes can be therefore baked, fried or boiled and can be used as either sweet or savoury fare. They can also be used for sauces and gravies.

 
           Ed makes his doughs up in a coffee can while mine ends up being mixed in one of my billies, but what if you just have a source of water and a bag of flour as proposed above? Well, you could possibly peel a sheet of bark or use the foil in your emergency kit, but there is an even simpler way.
          Sit your bag of flour down and make a well in the centre of the flour. Add a pinch of salt if you have it. In one hand you have a stick, in the other a handful of water, or a bottle. Gradually pour in the water while keeping the stick moving. You'll see a blob of dough begins to form on the stick. Flour your hands and remove the blob for kneading. You can also do this for the full twister mix, though rubbing in the fat can be a chore.

The Books
http://www.angelfire.com/art/enchanter/epsdbook.html 
http://www.lulu.com/shop/http://www.lulu.com/shop/phil-west/survival-weapons-optimizing-your-arsenal/paperback/product-21488758.html

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Combat Relevant Physical Training.

              In many armies the basic fitness test is based on the ability of the soldier to run a certain distance within a given time. Pheidippides notwithstanding, endurance running has very little relevance to the operations of most modern soldiers. The ability to march for hours with equipment is more relevant, and has decided the outcome of many conflicts. When a soldier does run it is a fast dash between pieces of cover, a sprint of a few metres and only a couple of seconds.
              A few years back
an article appeared on the web about how experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan was making some units rethink their approach to fitness training and exercise.

              “Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose!”

              Yesterday I mentioned the book Arwrology, published during the Second World War. This is an interesting book in many respects. Notable is that the first section covers combat relevant calisthenics. 

              “Regarding army calisthenics we should abrogate a lot of the hands up, hands in every direction “P.T” exercises as absonant. Instead of the knee bending with arms up, arms forward, arms sideways and then arms down exercises, teach the Arwrology upward thrusts of the arms, which the soldiers and students should be told, may reach up with trained accuracy and speed into the neck of a Nazi, some night in the jungle or concentration camp…..Silent, crawling exercises in assault positions could do more to stimulate circulation, imagination and fighting ambition that all the “Ceremonial Drill” ever used to fill the time.”

              The book includes a number of suggestions for new exercises. Raising the knees is transformed into practice for knee strikes. One of the more novel suggestions is “shortening the neck”. This exercise can be performed while marching and is intended to strengthen the neck against attacks. 

              Crawling is an important skill for a modern soldier, his very survival being dependent on the ability to exploit microterrain or move silently or unseen. Rather than restricting practice of this to the assault course it should become an integral part of PT. The Arwrology manual includes a number of crawling techniques, some of which might be familiar from more modern field manuals intended for snipers or scout-snipers. There is also a “Silent Semi-Crawl” intended for sentry stalking.


              Being able to fall or go prone without injury is another useful skill for a soldier. It is a quick way to begin crawling and a prudent reaction when suddenly coming under fire or to a nearby explosion. Breakfalls should also become an integral part of PT. The book suggests practicing breakfalls or other Arwrology techniques as a way to “amuse yourself during a Black-Out”. To the more traditional repertoire of breakfalls I would suggest adding the PLF and cartwheel, as detailed in my book. Arwrology includes a number of exercise techniques that begin with the student seated cross-legged and rising up to execute a blow. Rather reminiscent of the sempok/ depok sitting moves of some Indonesian martial arts. Other conditioning techniques included practicing throws on a large number of comrades.


              More than 70 years ago it was suggested that military physical training should be combat relevant. Once again we hear this suggestion, and if our valuable soldiers are unlucky, there may be a need to make it again in another 70!
The Books
http://www.angelfire.com/art/enchanter/epsdbook.html 
http://www.lulu.com/shop/http://www.lulu.com/shop/phil-west/survival-weapons-optimizing-your-arsenal/paperback/product-21488758.html

Monday, 14 September 2015

Crash Course in Close Combat.

          I spent this weekend reading an interesting book that a friend lent me. “The Battle of Sidney” by John Vader is a hypothetical history of the invasion of Australia by Japan during the Second World War.
         In this book an officer called “Brain Murray” proposes a way that the training of soldiers can be streamlined to produce relatively competent fighting men in about a week. Some of this method was about eliminating what the recruit did not really need. There is little point in training a man to salute perfectly and then trying to train him not to salute when in combat. (Saluting identifies leaders as targets!)

         I intend to scan the relevant sections of the book and they may be the subject of a future blog or web article.

         No mention of unarmed combat is made in the “Murray system” but it seems prudent to give a recruit at least a modicum of instruction. If I was given this task and only had a few hours of instruction scheduled what would I choose to teach?

         For a quick course Fairbairn’s “Get Tough” course seems a good place to start. “Arwrology” has some good ideas on combat relevant calisthenics. Initially what I would teach would not be unarmed combat. A soldier is most likely to need close combat techniques if his firearm jams or is out of ammo. Lesson one would be how to use a rifle as a melee weapon. Firstly the swinging and thrusting strikes with the butt. Since modern soldiers seldom fix bayonets I’d next teach thrusts with the naked muzzle. As an impact weapon the rifle muzzle can be very effective on various parts of the body. Defensive moves with the rifle are basically the outward and inward parry, which is a good introduction to later sections.

          Mention would be made of the use of entrenching tools and knives for defence but more detail of that might be reserved for a later lesson.

          Next would come the instruction on unarmed techniques. Since it is most familiar to most men we would start with the closed fist. Emphasis would be made that punches with the closed fist are best suited to targets below the ribs. Hook, shovel hook and low reverse punches would be taught and practiced.
          After this the palm heel strikes would be taught. This would include the palm heel uppercut (Fairbairn’s “Chin jab”), jabs, crosses and high hooks. This would be followed by knife-hand and elbow techniques. Leg techniques would include the side kick/stomp, knee strikes and “broncho kick”.

           The defensive component of the first lesson would include some instruction on Long Har Chuan and Ginga. Finally there would be some basic grab release lessons as in Fairbairn’s book, although I would include the “under and outside” method of wrist escape in addition to those he used. The day would finish with some “Milling” to get the recruits accustomed to engaging an opponent at close range. Possibly the Milling should be at the start of the program? If good progress has been made breakfalls will be introduced on the first day.

           The second lesson would be on another day and would start with a quick recap of some of the techniques and introduce the finger jab and other distraction techniques. This would be followed by instruction on the knife, entrenching tool, machete, helmet and riot baton. The second lesson would include using the entrenching tool as a shield to make openings for the use of the faster knife. There might be some instruction on breakfalls and quickly regaining your feet. Once breakfall techniques have been taught they are incorporated into other activities such as PT or route marches. The second session will include instruction on sentry stalking and introduction to techniques such as the garrote, naked strangle and “the Moshe Neck Roller”.

          For more in depth descriptions of all of these techniques and more, buy my book!

Friday, 11 September 2015

The Kiyoga.

      Continuing my tradition of making Friday posts a little more “out of the box”...

      I have been researching a number of things recently but I am unsure exactly why I had an urge to take Anthony B. Herbert’sMilitary Manual of Self Defense” down off the shelf.

      The book is mainly simple line illustrations. Some sections are obviously pulled from John Styer’s “Cold Steel”. A short passage at the start of the book admits that some content was taken from “Cold Steel”, “The Complete Book of Knife Fighting” and “Black Medicine Vol. 1 & 2”. Some sections  of “Get Tough” are also reproduced. Although uncredited the razor fighting section is obviously taken from Bradley Steiner’s “Close Shaves” and includes Steiner’s ludicrous comment that the sharpened corner of a cut-throat razor can penetrate an eye deep enough to reach the brain. 

      A lot of the text is of better quality, however. Note that Herbert describes the result of many techniques as “kills”. I believe he is using the more specialized military definition of the term which means “out of the fight” rather than an actual lethality. 

      What caught my eye today is that on the back cover the listing of sections mentions “The Kiyoga ™”. Telescopic batons are rather familiar now. When Herbert wrote his book this was evidently a new idea, although similar Japanese weapons date back at least a century or two. The section on use of the Kiyoga is relatively short but comprehensive and logical, covering applications of both the closed and open weapon. The reason I am featuring the Kiyoga today is this wonderfully over the top contemporary magazine advert for the weapon. I can remember the great comedian Kenny Everett reading this out in one of his early television shows.
The Books
http://www.angelfire.com/art/enchanter/epsdbook.html 
http://www.lulu.com/shop/http://www.lulu.com/shop/phil-west/survival-weapons-optimizing-your-arsenal/paperback/product-21488758.html

Fire from Sunlight.

           Many dozens of years ago I read an extract from a survival manual. Much of the content was actually FM 21-76 repackaged with snippets of allegedly Native American bushcraft. One of the few ideas that seemed novel was to use ice or snow to make a lens to create fire by focusing sunlight. Sunlight tends to be rather diffuse when snow is on the ground, so I have no idea as to how practical this actually is.
           The reason I bring this up is that I have just come across some rather nice videos of ways to use focussed sunlight to create fires.
           In one he uses a quantity of water in kitchen wrap as a lens. Many clear plastic bags could be used instead.


           Similar is the use of a glass pot lid. Could a clear bottle of water be uses in a similar fashion? Possibly! Sadly I don’t have time to experiment today.


           An ingenious method is using the remains of a noodle pot and silver bag to create a concave mirror.


Saturday, 5 September 2015

Yugoslavian Mess Kit in More Detail.

             Recently on this blog I made a brief mention of the Yugoslavian Mess Kit. Since then I have the opportunity to examine a couple of examples so I can now provide some additional details.


             The first thing you notice about this mess kit is the pouch that it comes in. There is an old joke that an elephant is a horse designed to military specifications and there is an element of truth in such witticisms. I have a British ’58 pattern water bottle pouch that I suspect weighs more than many rucksacs I own! The pouch for the Yugoslav mess kit is therefore a pleasant surprise, being simple and made of a reasonable weight of robust canvas. It is provided with two closed loop attachment points on the back. These appear to be approximately 2” so will accommodate many types of belt you may want to use with it.
             I got to examine two examples, both of dull green but differing in shade. The mess kit slid easily out of the first one I examined but the second stubbornly refused to yield its contents at first! Mystified by this I discovered the slot moulding on the bowl was catching under the fastening for the pouch top. This just seems to be a variation in cut and once freed the problem has not reoccurred. 

             The lower, metal part of the mess kit I will call “the pot”. Construction is quite sturdy and the metal used is of a good thickness. Capacity is about 800mls. The pot lid fold upwards and holds the bowl in place when the kit is in the pouch.


             The “bowl” is rectangular in section and appears of similar size and shape to the pot. Capacity is actually about 700mls and wall thickness seems to be at least 3-4mm. The bowl fits over a lip on the top of the pan and is a good friction fit but is also secured by the pan handle. The bowl has no handle but a slot moulded on one side is designed to be hooked over the upturned end of the pot handle. In this manner both pot and bowl can be held in one hand, for example while queuing in a mess line. Like all other plastic parts of the kit it is marked “NE DRŽATI NA VATRI” (“Do not place in Fire”).
 
 

              Inside the bowl and pot is a water bottle. This is slightly unusual for a military water bottle in that it is rectangular in section to fit efficiently within the pot. Capacity is a splash over one litre. The plastic is a little softer than for the other items and has a degree of spring to it. It appears to be intelligently designed and constructed for its intended role. Fitting over the spout of the bottle is a rectangular section “beaker”. This fits over a raised lip on the top of the bottle and forms a secure friction fit. Capacity of the beaker is approximately 150mls.
             The Yugoslavian mess kit is often marketed as an “eight-piece kit”. The final three components are a Knife, Fork and Spoon set (KFS). This fits in the side of pouch in what appears to be an internal pocket but is in fact just two flat loops of cloth. It is easier to fit the kit back in the pouch if the KFS is replaced after the eating and drinking vessels.


             The KFS is somewhat different to the camping KFS I grew up with. The grip of the knife is formed into a sleeve into which the handles of the spoon and fork are inserted. An inscription inside the knife handle includes the word “ROSTFREI” which I know is German for “rust-free” aka “stainless steel”. Odd that, since two tiny specks that appear to be rust are near the inscription. A quick check with a magnet reveals the fork and spoon are not magnetic, but the knife is!


             The knife blade has both a serrated section and a straight, apparently chisel-edged, part. As I reported in a previous blog, the knife has a bottle opener cut-out. I now discover it is provided with a can-opener beak as well. The spoon is quite generously sized. Fork and spoon are both “full-sized” implements which might disappoint the “ultra-light” travellers but be welcome to those with larger hands. Warning: The serrated part of the blade is surprisingly sharp!
             One of the kit’s virtues is also the chief objection. Everything fits neatly together in one package. It is, however, very difficult to access the water bottle without first removing the bowl and pot from the pouch, removing the bottle from within them removing the beaker. Admittedly it may be possible with some pouches to push the pot handle back far enough to remove the bowl while keeping the pot in the pouch, but this is fiddly and not something I would like to try when it is on a belt and I am on the move. Don’t use this as your primary water bottle. Use it to complement a system such as one with a drinking tube you can drink from while walking.
            The Yugoslavian mess kit on its own would not be my first choice for camping/ bushcraft needs. It does, however provide you with some very nice components to build a kit around at a very reasonable price. Many military water bottles or camping KFS kits on sale cost more than the entire Yugoslavian kit. In fact, many belt pouches on their own cost more!