Ninjutsu — The Prepper’s Martial Art?

Today we have something of a guest post here. I have a good friend named Jon Merz. In addition to being an outstanding author of several great books such as the Lawson series, he’s been a student of ninjutsu for twenty years. I recently asked him to write a short article for me for inclusion in my upcoming book, Prepper’s Home Defense. I thought I’d share the article with you here as well.


As a student of authentic Ninjutsu for over twenty years, I can tell you that the art is extremely well-suited to preppers. Ninjutsu is based on natural body movement and practicality over flashy movements. Anyone can do it. You don’t need to be in Olympian shape and the moves rely on simple actions that produce devastating results. Think minimum effort maximum results. Developed as it was on the battlefields and during covert action in feudal Japan, Ninjutsu remains as applicable today as it was when Japan was embroiled in civil war.

Ninjutsu encompasses every aspect of combat – from unarmed striking, grappling, joint locks, and throws to improvised and unorthodox weapons, weapons retention skills, and up to and including strategic application and mind sciences. As legendary as the myth of Ninjutsu invisibility is, for example, it is based on pragmatic practices that work on many levels. Obviously everyone knows about how to conceal themselves using the seven Ss of Shape, Shine, Shadow, Silhouette, Sound, Speed, Surroundings, but what about the concept of “friction” with your environment?

Traditional Ninja used “traveling disguises” when on missions that enabled them to blend in with their environments. Disguised as entertainers, monks, merchants, fortune tellers, and masterless samurai, they were able to ensure they did not stand out in a hostile territory. Modern Ninjutsu practitioners employ similar concepts to reduce their own “friction” within an environment. Do you know how to order wine and sample it? Do you speak a smattering of other languages? Even a simple greeting can help ensure you blend in. Modern ninja try develop themselves to the point where they can seamlessly move through everyday life without causing any friction – and by friction, I mean knowing what to do and how to act and how to appear such that you never stand out unless you want to. The highest level of this development is to become the “gray man,” the person you see on the street or in a hotel or anywhere…and then five seconds later, you can’t remember them.

The practicality of Ninjutsu, combined with its higher teachings, makes it a fantastic method of self-protection for anyone interested in preparing for what might be coming.

-Jon F. Merz has trained with Mark Davis, Chief Instructor of the Boston Martial Arts Center in Boston, MA ( for over 20 years and is a 5th degree black belt in the art. Jon’s personal website is located at

Minimalist Survival Kits For Post-Collapse Charity

A concern many survivalists have is what to do with folks who show up after a disaster, with their hands out and asking for help. Could be family, friends, or even strangers. I’m not talking about those who show up looking to rob the joint. Rather, those who genuinely need help, whether due to their own lack of preparedness or whatever.

One idea that has been making the rounds again is putting together small survival kits you can hand out to those people. Basically, it is a way to turn them away without too much of a negative impact on your conscience. Most of us probably aren’t going to be in a position where we can provide three hots and a cot to anyone who shows up. Instead, these minimalist survival kits could be given to these folks so they at least have some sort of chance at survival.

Note: I’m not saying I agree with this idea 100%. There are a lot of factors to consider when planning on this strategy. One of the biggest is that if you are handing out these kits, it tacitly confirms you not only have preps, you have enough excess supplies you can afford to give them out.

What could go into a kit for this purpose? Here’s my suggested list.

–A one liter bottle of potable water.
–A few water purification tablets, with instructions.
–A bit of non-perishable food, such as a few granola bars or protein bars, some crackers, maybe a can or two of tuna. If adding canned goods, maybe include a P-38 can opener.
–A handful of strike anywhere matches with some ready to use tinder like dryer lint.
–One or two space blankets.
–Inexpensive pocket knife.

With the exception of the water bottle, all of those items would fit into a gallon size ziplock bag. If you’re feeling particularly generous, you might toss in a roll of toilet paper, maybe a pack of gum, and/or a crank flashlight.

Again, I’m not advocating every one of my readers start assembling these charity kits. What I am suggesting though is this might be a means of helping your fellow bipeds without inviting them inside to partake in all you have stored.

Dressing for Disaster

If a disaster were to hit right now, are you dressed for it? If you have just enough time to grab your Get Home Bag, how far could you really walk in the shoes on your feet?

This is something I often see overlooked when people post lists of the contents of their kits. They have several ways to make fire, enough food for a few days, a water filter or two, but little or nothing in the way of practical clothing.

Most folks spent a third or more of the day either at work or commuting to and from. This means you have better than a 30% chance that you’ll be at work if disaster strikes. People who work in the trades (carpenters, construction, plumbing, etc.) are a bit better off in that their work clothes are going to be durable. However, you white collar workers in your suits, ties, and skirts are going to be hurting units if you have to hit the trail in your work clothes.

With my job, I’m fortunate in that the dress code is “business casual.” I can get away with cargo pants, comfortable shirts, and walking shoes. On occasion though I do have to put on a coat and tie. Either way, I’m covered as I have two bags in my trunk. One is my Get Home Bag and the other has a complete change of clothes. Short sleeve shirt, flannel shirt, cargo pants, socks, undies, boots. If something happened that necessitated me to head out on foot, I’d either change first if circumstances allowed or just grab both bags and change at the earliest opportunity. If I’m changing on the run, I’d just ditch the fancy clothes and not even try to bring them along.

If you’ve not done so already, I’d highly suggest you add practical clothes to your bug out kits.

Making Charcloth

Charcloth is material, usually 100% cotton, that has been cooked almost to the point of combustion. It is one of the best items to have on hand if you are trying to get a fire going. You can use it with any method of lighting (flint/steel, battery, etc.). Best of all, you can make quantities of it yourself in a short period of time and quite easily.

You’ll need a metal container, such as an old Altoids tin. Stick with something small until you really get the hang of this. You’ll also need your charcloth material. Pieces of denim from worn out jeans works well, as do cotton t-shirts. Cut or tear the material into small rectangles, a bit smaller than the inside of your metal container.

Punch a small hole in the top of the container using a nail or drill. Pile in your material, keeping it fairly loose. You don’t want to compact it down tightly. Close the container’s lid.

For your heat source, you can use anything from a propane grill to campfire coals. But you’ll need to do this outside as things will get smoky. Place your container over the heat and let it cook. The time this takes will vary depending on the heat source but after a period of time, you should see smoke start to come out of the hole in the top of your container.

After several minutes, the smoke should actually ignite and you’ll have a small flame coming from the hole. If need be, adjust the height of the container relative to the heat source, or adjust the grill burner setting, to keep the flame a few inches high.

Keep cooking until the flame dies out and the smoke begins to peter out. Remove the container and let it cool completely before opening. Properly made charcloth will be black and flexible. If it isn’t entirely black, you’ll need to put it back on the heat to cook longer.

When using charcloth, what you’ll do is throw sparks in some fashion onto the cloth. Those sparks should ignite the charcloth fairly quickly, though you’ll not see flames, just glowing embers. Move it to your tinder and gently blow on it to get the flames going.

Quiet Hunting

There may come a day when you won’t want to advertise your presence when hunting. While it can be difficult to really pinpoint the location of a single gunshot in the forest, you may not want to take the chance.

There are several different means of hunting without using firearms, of course. Bow hunting is probably the most common. Visit any decent size sporting goods store and you may feel overwhelmed with all the gear available. If you are considering investing in the supplies for this option and you’re not already experienced with bow hunting, I highly suggest you find someone who has been doing it for years to mentor you a bit. While archery may not be quite as difficult as some of the other quiet hunting methods, it does take considerable practice to become even remotely proficient.

Air guns are another alternative to explore. You’ll find that when it comes to air rifles, you get what you pay for. You can certainly find models for well under $50.00 but odds are pretty good that they won’t really meet your needs. You’re better off spending the money to get something with decent power as well as being well manufactured. The great thing about air rifles though is the ammo is dirt cheap.

Slings and slingshots are worth considering. The ammo is plentiful, of course. While you can use rocks, many users prefer ball bearings or even marbles. You can set up a practice range at home by hanging a blanket from a clothesline, then putting your targets in front of it. That way, you won’t lose ammo. It will take quite a bit of practice to get the hang of things, especially when it comes to slings.

Blowguns are somewhat popular and can be purchased rather inexpensively. These take a lot of practice though, both to hit your target as well as learning the capabilities of the weapon. You certainly won’t be taking down any large game with one.

Trapping, while not actual hunting, is another method to explore. The good part about traps is they work ’round the clock. The bad thing though is someone or something else might beat you to your catch. Do some research and practice making several different types of traps. However, refrain from putting them into actual use unless your local laws allow for that.

Racism and Survivalists, Part 2

So, yesterday’s blog post caused a little bit of a stir on my Facebook page. While several folks commented with their agreement with my point of view on the subject, there was one point of contention. Specifically, that a racist has just as much right to their beliefs as anyone else.

I’d agree with that statement. Everyone has every right to believe what they want to believe. I’d go a step further and say that everyone has the right to express their beliefs, at least if done so in a non-violent manner.

Here’s the thing though. Just as you have the right to believe all blacks are evil, inner city, welfare receiving, watermelon munching trash, I have the right to tell you you’re an ignorant jackpot who probably believes the world is flat and the universe revolves around the Earth.

I’m reminded of two quotes. The first is from author John Scalzi.

You are correct when you say you should be able to express your moral views on social issues, and as a staunch defender of the First Amendment, I will defend to the death your right to say whatever ridiculous, ignorant and bigoted thing that has been fermenting in that cracked clay pot you call a brain pan. But the First Amendment also means that when you say such things, other people have the a right to mock you and the silly, stupid words that have dribbled out of your skull through that word hole above your chin. If you call someone “unnatural,” they might call you an “asshole.” That’s the deal.

The second quote is from country singer Trace Adkins, from his song Fightin’ Words.

First amendment? Son, the first amendment protects you from the government, not from me. You can say whatever you want to out there. You come within reach of me, I’ll exercise my right to give you a good ol’ country ass whoopin’, is what I’ll do for you, by God.

I’m not going to change anyone’s belief system. Not here and probably not anywhere else. Quite often, racist and bigoted beliefs are so ingrained, they are almost part of a person’s DNA. Hard to fight against that with just a few words of text. But, all the energy expended to sustain that belief could certainly be better used elsewhere.

Racism and Survivalists

As I’ve mentioned on several occasions here, I belong to several Yahoo Groups. Some are fairly small with just a few hundred members. Others have a couple thousand or more people. For the most part, I enjoy these groups as they are a great way to brainstorm with folks from across the globe, as well as network with people in my own area.

Late last week, I was briefly involved in a discussion on one of the largest survival-related Yahoo Groups. Here’s what the group owner had posted to the group, which is the comment to which I felt compelled to respond:

WHITE people, the current MAJORITY of US population, had better get behind a WHITE candidate and DEMONSTRATE that majority in the polls or we will have another 4 years of that black inner city hate whitey dynamic…and most likely we won’t have another Prez election.

This same person had just been lamenting the fact that posts in his group were declining. Gee, I wonder why?

[I am intentionally not giving the name of the group, nor the name of the individual who made the post. No sense in glorifying them or their actions.]

I used to think that the redneck, racist, survivalist was really not much more than a stereotype. Sadly, that’s just not the case. These folks are out there and you’ll probably run across them in your online travels.

Listen folks, we have enough problems right now without having to still be dealing with ignorant racism. There is good and bad with members of every single race on the planet. To point the finger at any one race and decide that they are “bad” because of the color of their skin is, quite frankly, f*&^ing stupid.

Blind hate does nothing but waste energy. Whether you’re talking about race, religion, sexual preference, country of origin, or any other perceived category of person, hating them solely on the basis of that category achieves nothing. Could be that lesbian can shoot straighter than you and should be a welcome addition to your group because of that. Could be that black guy knows more about battlefield medicine than anyone else in your state. Or maybe that Jew knows how to make a gourmet meal out of nothing more than venison, rice, and dandelions.

Given just a couple minutes, I can find all sorts of reasons to not like someone. But those reasons will all have to do with their attitude and behavior, never where they are from, who they sleep with at night, or their level of formal education.

Post-Apocalyptic Forums

To round out this week where I’ve suggested several websites of interest to preppers, I’d like to mention one of my personal favorites. Post-Apocalyptic Forums is THE place for discussing end of the world fiction. While the message board may not be as active as some others, the members there know more about dystopian futures than anyone else around.

Looking for a good book about pandemics? How about help with remembering the title of a movie you saw late one night a decade ago? Just ask and I’m sure one or more of the members can help you find what you seek.

There are sub-sections of the forum devoted to the more practical aspects of survival as well. Lots of good, solid info from folks who know what they are talking about.

One of the things I like the most about this message board is the utter and complete lack of flaming, arguing, and other not-so-nice behavior. I’ve been a member there for a few years now and I have yet to see any posts from anyone that are less than polite and cordial. Great people all around.

Have a great weekend, everyone. I’ll be on the road for much of it, attending an academic tournament with my kids. Wish us luck!

DIY Faraday Cages

Spend much time researching the impact of an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) and you’ll no doubt run across references to Faraday Cages. Without getting into all the physics of how they work, basically they shield electronics from the effects of an EMP.

You may not realize it but you likely already have a working Faraday Cage in your home right now — your microwave. These are said to work very well with insulating against EMP. Check with your local Freecycle groups as well as perhaps Craigslist to see if you can acquire an older microwave oven, working or not. Cut off the power cord as close to the body of the oven as you can. Place your electronics equipment inside, close the door, and place it on a wood shelf or on top of some other non-conductive material.

Another way is to obtain a galvanized trash can. The trouble though is to ensure a complete seal to prevent any of the EMP getting inside. What you can do is crumple aluminum foil around the lip of the can before putting the lid on tight. Inside the can, use wood or cardboard on the bottom for something to rest your items on and make sure none of those electronics are touching the sides of the can.

What should you put in your homemade Faraday Cage? Well, I’d not bother with things like cell phones. If an EMP were to hit, whether as the result of a solar flare or from some type of attack, odds are pretty good cell phone towers won’t be operating. Instead, I’d add a crank powered radio to keep apprised of news. Consider burning a few CDs or DVDs with copies of important papers and other information. While EMP shouldn’t really affect those disks, putting them in your Faraday Cage will help you know where they are. If you have an old laptop, maybe add it to your cage as well. While the power will be out, probably for some time, if you can rig up a solar battery charger, or find someone who has one, you’ll be in business. Two way radios would be another welcome addition. If you have diabetics in your group, having access to a working test kit would be very helpful.

What other electronics would you want to try and protect in a Faraday Cage?

American Preppers Network

I spend a fair amount of my day online, both for work and otherwise. That being the case, I tend to visit quite a few survival-related websites and forums. There are a few that have become regular stops for me, for one reason or another. Others will catch my interest for a day or two and that’s about it. These days, you can’t swing a virtual dead cat in cyberspace without hitting at least a couple prepper and survivalist websites, right?

I learned of the existence of the American Preppers Network (APN) quite some time ago but kind of forgot about it. Great site, loads of interesting information, but I got sidelined with other matters and it just sort of fell out of my regular “route” online. Don’t laugh, most of us probably follow similar paths when we go online. Check email, hit our favorite news sites, then move on to message boards and blogs.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I had a conversation with Phil Burns, who is one of the guys running the show at APN. He’s a pretty cool guy and has some really great ideas. We talked for quite a while about our goals with spreading the word about prepping. In short, I was fairly impressed with what he had to say. So much so, in fact, that I accepted his invitation to write a few articles here and there for his site.

What they are doing is transforming the APN site into something like a prepper version of CNN. If you go to the site, you’ll see just a TON of information being presented, covering all aspects of prepping. Pack a lunch as you can easily spend hours there. In addition to the main site, they also have a very extensive message board where you can directly interact with thousands of preppers from across the country. In fact, every state has a sub-forum specifically for networking with folks in your area.

I encourage you to stop by both the site and the message board and poke around. I think you’ll enjoy your time there.