Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Self-Defense by the Sword

A student at John Hopkins found an intruder in his garage, and the man attacked him. The student responded by defending himself with what the report calls a "samurai" sword. The result? He cut off one of his attacker's hands, and inflicted a "severe laceration" to his chest, mortally wounding him.  Attacking someone holding a sword -- not a good idea.

I found this report particularly interesting because I've had a few years of training in western martial arts, particularly with German longsword techniques (a two handed Renaissance weapon about four feet long). Anyone that has trained with such a weapon -- which is used differently than a Japanese sword but has some similarities -- knows how vulnerable the hands are to attack. It's not surprising that the intruder had one of his hands cut off. The report implies that the hand-removal was the killing blow.

There wasn't much detail in the report, but I'm assuming that the student must have picked up his sword when he went to investigate his garage. You don't too see many instances of swords being used in self-defense, since carrying them around in normal circumstances tends to be frowned upon. I'd be interested in knowing what type of sword he used, and if he had any training. Not that it's necessary. Assuming the other person was unarmed, or under-armed, even a cheap stainless steel wallhanger can kill. But it's not that easy to land a clean cut capable of severing a hand.

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