Conscious Carry -Toby Cowern

One of the unexpected benefits of travelling so much to teach and train, is seeing the variety, vehemence and impact of various laws in various countries focusing on the carry (or not) of weapons and associated objects.

From the overwhelmingly strict control of firearms, knives and ‘objects that may be used as a weapon’ that are now entrenched in UK law, all the way through to ‘open carry’ of medium caliber rifles in parts of the USA and onwards to ‘special dispensations’ used in conflict regions, the application and enforcement of the law has a far reaching impact on all who are interested in their personal safety.

As you know from previous articles I have written, I am a huge believer in the concept of Every Day Carry (EDC) Namely, having a number of essential items constantly to hand as you navigate the modern day concrete jungle.

Very much tied in with this EDC ideal, is carrying the means to defend yourself. Simply put, we are currently so far up the food chain, largely because we are tool using primates. Remove the tools and we would be significantly further down the list. Acknowledging this, but respecting the local laws isn’t necessarily a mutually exclusive idea. Simply put, there will always be SOMETHING that we can carry with us to act as a ‘force multiplier’ and increase our effectiveness in an altercation.

It is down to us all to aggressively address the laws we are bound by and find the areas/items of the what and how we can carry things. Even more so for Instructors who should be ensuring they are able to accurately and comprehensively deliver this information to their students.

Simply put, the tired conversation of bemoaning what we ‘are not allowed to carry’ needs to give way to focusing on ‘what we can’ carry instead.

It is highly unlikely, in the near future, we will see reversal of any of the ‘weapons’ laws currently in place. In fact, if anything, established precedent says we will see a further ‘tightening’ of existing laws and introduction of new laws to further curtail carriage and use of various items.

That said, for clarity I’ll repeat, we need to focus on ‘what we can carry’. We have access to unprecedented amounts of information nowadays, so investigating and establishing what can be legally carried (and how) is far easier now than almost any time in our history. Once you have established what you can carry, there are some other considerations that MUST be addressed, these are:

1) Where will you carry the item?
2) How will you carry the item?
3) How much time will you commit to training with the use of the item?

Let’s expand on each of these briefly:

1) Where will you carry the item?
An item that is going to enhance our defensibility needs to be easily and quickly accessed when needed. Floating around the bottom of a bag or being in a constrictive pocket is no good. So due consideration to where on your person you are carrying needs to be given.

2) How will you carry the item?
Will it be secured (like in a pouch or holster)? Does it have fastenings or clips that need to be used? When you are accessing it will it come out facing the ‘right direction’? Does what you wear affect if and how you carry the item?

Points 1 and 2 are essential considerations to overcome the ‘Talisman Thinking’. The idea that somehow this item will protect you JUST by being carried.

3) How much time will you commit to training with the use of the item?
Once you’ve established where and how you will carry the item, you need to learn and then practice accessing, retention and use. As a rough rule of thumb, the less lethal the item the more you will need to practice use and technique, the more lethal the item the more you need to focus on articulation (WHY you carry, and why you decided to use it in an altercation) along with the other training aspects.

Finally, I would stress the importance of once you have decided to carry an item, then carry it always. Establish the routine early that as much as you pick up your keys and phone’ this item(s) are next on the list.

Individual Every Day Carry is a deeply personal decision, but as I mention in this article, regardless of laws there is always SOMETHING you can carry to help you defend yourself. If you aren’t already doing so, I recommend you start looking at your available options today…

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