Training with Tactician..

With deep backgrounds in martial arts and the Marine
Corps, Allen Elishewitz is one of the self-defense circuit’s
“best all-around trainers,” says author Paul Pawela.

It’s all about Defining Angles of Attack for Defensive and Offensive Counters with Knives and Guns.

Story and Photos by Paul Pawela

In studying the words of psychologist Jordan Peterson, one of his pearls of wisdom is to observe life’s patterns, which is a rudimentary must for success in everything life has to offer. Former Delta Force Commander Pete Blaber also reinforces this sentiment in his book The Mission, the Men, and Me. Commander Blaber points out that whether it be in combat, business or life, our mind’s ability to
recognize life’s underlying patterns is our most effective weapon.
Ernest Emerson, a master-at-arms and knife-maker extraordinaire, also states that criminals and terrorists follow patterns, even if only general ones. He points out some examples of a mugger, rapist, terrorist or murderer. Often, they plan to tie you up and move you from the initial attack scene. Once this happens, the odds are very high they will try to kill you once they have done what they wanted to accomplish.

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Another pattern of criminal behavior is picking the easiest, weakest, most vulnerable and most unaware people they can. They want the people who will give them little to no resistance, and they always use tactics of surprise and ambush to accomplish their goals.
These patterns with regards to self-preservation have been true since the dawn of time and recorded as far back as the 1600s, when famed Japanese samurai Miyamoto Musashi wrote his classic book, The Book of Five Rings. Other classic books that one should read when learning and studying warlike
behaviors or counters to an enemy attack include The Art of War by Sun Tzu and On War by Carl Von Clausewitz. Modern works on the subject include On Killing and On Combat by David Grossman, Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee, The Seven Essential Skills Needed to Survive a Deadly Attack by Ernest Emerson, The Reluctant Partisan by John Mosby, and FBI Miami Firefight by Edmundo and Elizabeth Mireles.

Along with his aforementioned accreditations, Elishewitz – here with a bolo blade – is a knife-maker.

While the average citizen is determined to go about their business to provide for their families with
food, shelter and quality of life, many families don’t have a plan to defend what they love if faced with a criminal confrontation.

Elishewitz demonstrates the draw sequence for his latest custom knife

As discussed in American Shooting Journal in previous articles, certain elements must be reinforced when learning how to implement self-defense in the realm of deadly force. The key component when it comes to defensive techniques is that the basic skills are always simple, straightforward and practical, and can be applied equally to both young and old, male and female. The other important thing is finding an instructor who knows the right curriculum that applies to civilians specifically, and works on the streets and in our courts to be absolutely correct on both counts.

ONE OF THE few instructors I’ve found who offers top-notch instruction that relates to all walks of life is Allen Elishewitz. He has been on my radar for years, but not for what you may think. Elishewitz has the reputation of being one of the best tactical custom knife-makers in the world. This makes sense because
some of the best ever to make swords or short swords (today, our modern short swords are knives) were the Japanese samurai. Since their swords were a way of life for them, the samurai sword was tested by highly specialized professionals. The sword would be fitted into a special mounting and test cuts would be performed on bodies, bundles of straw, armor and metal sheets. Elishewitz continues the tradition of testing – although with more modern technologies – which makes his knives highly desired amongst the elite counter-terrorists in the world. So it should be no surprise that Elishewitz would also be a tactical instructor, under the company banner Tactician Concepts (

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Elishewitz has a fascinating background. His family had traveled to different parts of the world for business, so as a child he grew up living in Indonesia, Taiwan, Singapore and Thailand. His travels led him to personally train in some of the most brutal martial arts in the world. He not only studied but mastered Okinawan te, Thai boxing, northern Shaolin kung fu and kali, among others. Many readers may not know what these styles are, but as previously stated, they all have commonalities and patterns. Footwork and body positions of angles of attack for both offensive and defensive purposes are essential, whether unarmed or armed with knife or gun.

Close-quarter counters defending against a knife with a gun.

In addition to his martial arts background, for over 35 years Elishewitz has trained with some of the world’s finest self-defense trainers. He has trained in precision long-range shooting, carbine and pistol with Travis Haley, Pat McNamara, Kyle Lamb, John Farnam, Gabe White, Sonny Puzikas and many others. I can personally vouch for these trainers, as I have also trained with them. However, one of the most impressive components of Elishewitz’s long and impressive resume is his solid foundation as an elite alumnus of the United States Marine Corps (remember, patterns of life’s success). While in the Marine Corps, he was well trained as a forward observer artillery call for fire scout and also as a recon team leader. Much of Elishewitz’s training history can be located on the internet.
Indeed, his long, distinguished military pedigree has cemented him as being one of the training circuit’s best all-around trainers. While many great tier-one operator warriors are phenomenal in their skill sets, that does not necessarily translate to them being good instructors. The keys to being a good trainer
are having confidence, being clear and audible, being a good listener, having a good reputation, having a sound awareness of how words and body language communicate, being a good observer, and being flexible, reliable and passionate. However, the most essential component of a solid instructor must be their rapport and empathy for their students.

Knives can be lethal in a counterattack in a
deadly force confrontation

I WAS SURE to be there after learning that the Volusia Gun & Hunt Club in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, would host Elishewitz for four days. Elishewitz taught three different subject courses: a two-day knife/counter knife course, an intensive skill handgun course, and a course on fighting/shooting in and out of the vehicle.
In observing all three blocks of instruction, the course content was very impressive, but what impressed me most was how Elishewitz was able to handle the different age groups in his class, as the students ranged from middle age to their formative years. The majority of instructors have students in the prime of their life, which is a relatively easy crowd to train. However, in Florida, there is a large population of retired people who need self-preservation training just as much as, and maybe even more than, their younger counterparts, as they are targeted by criminals more often.
As previously stated, Elishewitz started with two days of knife/counter knife training. Why? First, let me state that in deadly force scenarios, there are only two options: run or fight. If a fight requires deadly force, then there are only two options: fight with an edged weapon or a firearm, period! Too many people talk about hand-to-hand fighting in “street fights,” which, from a moralistic and legal standpoint, is totally ludicrous as well as unrealistic.
Gun people always tend to say, “Well, if they come at me with a knife, then I will just shoot them.” This is a stupid statement to make for a close-contact distance, as the bad guy’s weapon is already en-route before you can get to your weapon, whatever that is. Elishewitz starts off his class with that in mind by defining angles of attack for both defensive and offensive counters with an edged weapon. The handgun course follows the same type of philosophy.

More close-quarter counters
defending against a knife with a gun

ELISHEWITZ IS THE closest modern-day instructor to famed Five Rings author Musashi. However, he equally embodies martial artist Morihei Ueshiba for his philosophy in the art of peace. Ueshiba states, “In the Art of Peace, a single cut of the sword summons up the wondrous powers of the universe.
That one sword links past, present, and future; it absorbs the universe. Time and Space disappear. All of creation, from the distant past to the present moment, lives by the sword [author’s note: or gun]. All human existence flourishes right here in the sword you hold in your own hands. You are now prepared for anything that may arise.”
Allen Elishewitz lives by these words wholeheartedly. To attempt to describe the greatness of Elishewitz and his teaching methodology in one article is, simply put, futile. In part two, we will go in-depth into his self-defense strategy to establish why he is one of this country’s top trainers. And that’s my two cents!

Editor’s note: Author Paul Pawela is a nationally recognized firearms and self-defense expert. For his
realistic self-defense training, see