WeaselCraft, My Approach to Survival & Self Defense – Terry Trahan

Oftentimes during one of my seminars, or when I get a new student, the question arises, what is WeaselCraft, what does it mean, and why do you use it. Origination of the term comes from famed Firearms writer and instructor Massad Ayoob. He defined it as all the non-traditional things you do in a fight to survive. Back in the heyday of internet forums, I was part of the moderator team at SelfDefenseForums.com, and my Brother and fellow moderator Don Rearic made a comment about me in a thread that stuck, he called me a ‘street weasel of the first order.’ Because of this, the name stuck, and soon all of the things I taught or wrote became labelled as WeaselCraft. A friend did a couple drawings representing a street weasel, and thus it was born.

Now that we have the history, I will go into why I still use it, and what it means to me. I like the term, it is unique, and it really sets the boundaries and marks the differences between what I teach and believe from other approaches. In a way, for me, it harkens back to the animal styles of Chinese martial arts, but for me, the animals become Weasel, Rabbit, Honey Badger, Fox, and Crow.

Above all else, WeaselCraft is a mindset. A way of thinking that has only one goal, to get myself and my loved ones home, any way needed. There is no dogma or tradition, no rituals, just a set of concepts and loose rules that inform the way I operate and move through my environment.

As mentioned, the most important aspect of WeaselCraft is results, I want to get home, I don’t care how, as long as there is as minimal an impact on our lives as possible, and we are safe, from both the immediate threat and the aftermath. This outlook and goal orientation makes a lot of options available, as when you realize, for example, that machoism has no place in a survival incident, and there is no shame or ‘proper’ form in surviving, you can get straight to the point.

Skillsets become very important when you are applying anything to a survival situation. In my experience, software, or skillsets, become much more important than hardware, or all the neat little tools and toys on the market. With the proper skillset and outlook, tools can be applied as needed, or created on the spot, but the opposite is not true. As we have all heard, when all you have is a hammer, every problem becomes a nail, when you have a complete mental toolbox… I think you get the picture.

But, what skillsets are important?

Awareness and observation; these are listed first because without them, nothing else matters. If you cannot see the problem, or the escape route, you cannot do anything about the issue at hand. This applies to confrontation, violence, and emergency situations of all types. To be good at WeaselCraft, or personal survival in general, or life itself, spend more time working on these skills.

Mental flexibility; the ability to see outside the box, alternative uses for items, differences and how to use them to your advantage.

Adaptability; I wanted to say resilience, but adaptability hits closer to the core of my philosophy. The ability to bounce back, use what is given you, change what you have to what you need, and see how and what you need to see. These are key skills, and without them, nothing else works.

Toughness; the ability and attitude to keep going to achieve your goal. But not in the limited definition, it also means the toughness to make hard choices, forgo ego stroking or feel good decisions, to complete your mission.

Decision making; this is an oft overlooked aspect of skill development. In a live fire event, the quicker you can decide, the better choices and more time you have to affect your plan.

Related to these, and falling more into the physical realm, WeaselCraft looks at physical skills that we deem more important than the fighting aspect. Things such as trauma care, escape and evasion, conflict communications, anti-abduction skills, active people watching and awareness, and other “black bag” type skills.

All the above skills are important to us, as it is better to avoid than confront, better to confront than fight, and better to fight than die. Avoidance skills need constant practice, and take up a large portion of our mental workout, and individual training.

Physically, our skillset is primarily taken from the SouthEast Asian martial arts, particularly Silat and Kali. However, the way we apply them is much more combative in nature than you normally find them. We take the principles and motion base from our arts, and apply them to modern situations.

We place great emphasis on maintaining a low profile, non-tactical appearance. I would say we follow the Grey Man theory, but now I see that has been made into a commercial venture, so we just try to look as normal as we can, considering we are very tool oriented.

Finally, a large portion of our training time is devoted to weapons, both use of, and defense against. The reason is simple, we are more likely to be attacked or threatened with a weapon, so we need to know how to deal with them, and with our first rule and goal being to go home, weapons are the equalizer, especially against larger, or multiple opponents. The weapons we concentrate on are small knife, various impact/stick weapons, pocket stick and variants, and a few flexible weapon skills.

None of us live in a vacuum, and we try to apply all of these skillsets and hardware to the modern legal context, as long as it supports our goal of being safe, and going home.

As I sit here listening to Mississippi Queen, at home, I hope you take my approach, think about it, and let it inform your own way of getting home.

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