Samurai swordplay (courtesy robypaterson.com)

“The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office says two suspects armed with a handgun and an axe invaded a house in Firebaugh near Fresno in the middle of the night Saturday intending to rob the home,” mercurynews.com reports. “The suspects, 34-year-old Aaron Baeza and 30-year-old Christopher Rupe, tied up the homeowner and his girlfriend and demanded money. They later freed the man to allow him to look for the cash. The homeowner then stabbed and killed Baeza with his samurai sword.” We’re a firearms website but it must be said: adapt, improvise, overcome. In other words, use what you got.

92 Responses to California Homeowner Brings a Sword to A Gunfight

  1. Oh no! This will lead to swords (plus anything with a sharp edge or point to be restricted). Heaven forbid someone in Kalifornia be allowed ANY means of self defense.

    Also coming soon, restrictions on Samurai sword concealed carry.

    • Nope, this will be used as evidence we don’t need guns to defend our homes and lives. After they grab the guns they will ban “sharp thingies”

    • Technically, I am already required to transport martial-arts weapons in a locked carrying case going to/from the dojo.

      Open carry of swords is Right Out in CA, as you might imagine. The persecuted samurai in the Meiji Restoration era got nothin’ on us modern-day types living in CA.

      The net effect is that you have to treat a serious edged weapon in CA like a crysknife in Dune: you never draw it within sight of others unless it’s going to taste blood…

      • It’s actually perfectly legal under California state law to carry a sword openly (although concealing it is a felony). It would be a very bad idea, though, as you will certainly be set upon by cops won’t care about the law but will be perfectly happy to shoot you if you so much as breath in their direction.

    • Nope. In California, open carry of a sword is legal.

      It’s got grabbers and it’s got problem, but California is – different. You just can’t measure it using any other state as a reference.

  2. Makes me want to get the Cold Steel shovel I’ve been drooling over. Nothing says “Get the F out of my house” like a spetsnaz-esque shovel strike to the collar bone, assuming my 1911 isn’t handy.

    • A guy from one of those prepper shows is mass making a really neat multi tool what had a sharpened shovel on one end. It’ll come to me and I’ll re-post…

    • I’ve got one of those. One of the best investments I’ve ever made. It’s incredibly sturdy. I sharpened up the edges, and keep it in my car for emergencies.

      • Sweet, so it’s sturdy? I’ve yet to handle one in person, but I thought it’d be an awesome addition to my truck and BOB. I’m into that my one tool does multiple things philosophy. But sometimes its overkill, like the Chinese military wonder shovel, it reminds me of those cheap fishing kit and compass in the handle commando survival knifes, the ones with a blade hardened to like 14 HRC, lol.

        • ive beat the crap out of the one that i got. you may need to replace the handle one day, but its legit.

          i pitty the fool that happens to be on the receiving end of mine. it zips through 2” limbs in the yard….clean cuts.
          its kinda replaced my cane knife as my go to garden tool

    • “You don’t need a knife for self-defense. Get a wooden spoon. Like I tell my wife, Jill, if someone comes into the house, give’em to blasts on the knuckles with that spoon.”

      -Joe

  3. And the home owner who defended himself will be sued by the family of the SOB who attacked him in 5…4…3…2…1…

    • Um, no. And if they did, they would lose.

      California self-defense laws are actually quite good. Stand your ground when none of the current states doing that were. Stand your ground since 1871.

      • I wouldn’t say quite good, given all the gun restrictions, but perhaps not as bad as people think.

      • In your own home, would it be more like “castle doctrine” than “stand your ground”? Yes, CA has both. However…

        The jury instructions (CALCRIM) are not that great…
        506. Justifiable Homicide: Defending Against Harm to Person Within Home or on Property limits you to the amount of force “reasonable” to defend against the threat: The defendant is only entitled to use that amount of force that a reasonable person would believe is necessary in the same situation. If the defendant used more force than was reasonable, then the [attempted] killing was not justified.
        505. Justifiable Homicide: Self-Defense or Defense of Another Same caveat as 506.

        In Colorado, though, I can use any level of force (including deadly force) against an intruder if I reasonably believe that the intruder might use against me any physical force, no matter how slight:
        C.R.S. 18-1-704.5. Use of deadly physical force against an intruder. any occupant of a dwelling is justified in using any degree of physical force, including deadly physical force, against another person when that other person has made an unlawful entry into the dwelling, and when the occupant has a reasonable belief that such other person has committed a crime in the dwelling in addition to the uninvited entry, or is committing or intends to commit a crime against a person or property in addition to the uninvited entry, and when the occupant reasonably believes that such other person might use any physical force, no matter how slight, against any occupant.
        The same statute gives the occupant immunity from civil liability and criminal prosecution.

        • And in the great state of Florida, an intruder in your home is prima facie evidence that you were in fear of death or great bodily harm and thus authorized to use deadly force. As it should be.

          F.S. 776.013 Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.

        • Colorado is interesting, though, in that there is no need for “fear of death or great bodily harm” before one can use deadly force.

          All one needs to be covered by the above CO statute is:
          * intruder made an unlawful entry
          * occupant reasonably believes that the intruder has or is about to commit a crime against person or property (in addition to the unlawful entry)
          * occupant reasonably believes that the intruder might use any physical force, no matter how slight against any occupant.

        • Um, “Second Amendment” we have that here too, in California. There is a legal presumption of grave threat when it is an intruder. We don’t have a castle law doctrine because that would be redundant. We have a castle doctrine law, that creates a legal presumption of deadly threat in the home.
          Calcrim 506
          Defendant is not required to retreat. He or she is entitled to stand his or her ground and defend himself or herself and, if reasonably necessary, to pursue an assailant until the danger of (death/bodily njury/) has passed. This is so even if safety could have been achieved by retreating.

          (this same thing is repeated in the section about defense outside the home)

          Now I said CA self-defense laws were good. By that I meant that the right to defend oneself, as such, is well protected by CA law, if not perfectly, better than most states. The means necessary to accomplish that end, however, are far less reasonably treated in the law. It is like the CA legislature cannot grasp that if you will the end, you must also will the means. If you wish the right of defense to be protected, you must also protect the means used in the exercise of that right.

  4. Remember that scene in Pulp Fiction when Bruce Willis escapes the Weirdos in the Pawn Shop, and then goes back for Marcelles Wallace. He has his pick of weapons in the pawn shop, chooses the samurai sword, then goes back in and lays-down-the-law.

    He could have left Wallace there, but instead he chooses to gain much honor, and went back and saved an enemy, from a worse enemy.

    And he did it with a samurai sword. Awesome scene.

    Anyway, props to the homeowner for making-it-work with the sword. Those things are fearsome when you are in reach.

    • If you’re within 20 feet of me, you’re within reach even if you’re armed and my sword is sheathed. I may take a bullet in the process, but in force-on-force demonstrations this happens surprisingly infrequently.

      The sight of a skilled swordsman moving toward you with speed and strong intent, while smoothly drawing a meter of razor-sharp steel, tends to be a bit… unnerving.

        • Even if a samurai’s head were to be suddenly cut off, he should still able to perform one more action with certainty.

        • Yes, little pony, even with his head cut off. He would perform one last act. Sh!t himself and collapse in it. They were men, not supermen.

      • As does a bow and arrow (or crossbow and bolt); the baddie I had to transfix just stared dumbly at mine – which I loosed when he wouldn’t drop his weapon and retreat.

        The out of the ordinary stops most people ’til they can reboot their brain, and that takes awhile.

        California; no charges filed.

  5. Uncle Joe says ” If there’s trouble just un-sheath on the balcony or stab through the door.” But no samurai assault swords, just medieval european replicas because they’re good enough.

    • And good enough, they are. Thanks to Hollywood the standard European longsword gets no respect, but it’s a lethal multipurpose battle tool, and the best medieval European steels were as good or better than Japan’s mythical metallurgy.

      Anyway, yeah. Props to the homeowner for doing what had to be done with what he had on hand. Man, that’s some brutal stuff. I can almost pity the guy on the business end of that sword…but not really.

        • Yes, it does. I think it’s safe to say that burglar was karma’s bitch.

          And I meant the *real* European deal would be more than good enough to match a samurai sword…not the replicas. Although even a relatively cheap replica could do killing damage if it was sharp. Big blades are not to be taken lightly.

      • Yes and no.

        The German long sword was a fantastic weapon, light and nimble.

        However, Japan’s metallurgy was no myth. A katana was different to a European sword. The European sword was more flexible – useful to keep it from breaking – while the katana was far more sharp, and somewhat better for thrusting.

        Different metals – neither was better.

        The scimitar was different as well, designed as it was so that a reverse swing would penetrate any possible armor. Sharper than European swords as well, but far more easily broken by lateral stress. Save Damascus, of course, with its high manganese content.

        Again, different metals and forging techniques, each suited to the intended use.

        Swords are an intricate business, and the martial arts of European history are for more rich than most yanks could ever imagine.

        • Yep, true. I didn’t mean to belittle Japan’s metallurgy, just the mythical status it’s been given by Hollywood’s fetish for Eastern martial arts.

        • There is a video on youtube that proves that longswords sucked compared to the Japanese Katana.It is called Longsword vs Katana with ‘Gunny’ in it.You should watch it.

  6. Awesome story! Ridiculous. To the anti-gun people who say “just use a baseball bat” or a sword or whatever, I really can’t think of anything more horrible than killing somebody with a baseball bat. Good lord. In the best case it would be gory and gross and just mentally scarring. If you’re going to use probably-lethal force to protect yourself from an attacker, I would SO rather do it from a few feet away with a firearm and not really have to see, feel, or hear the physical destruction wrought by a bat, sword, etc. Gross. I don’t think they’ve actually thought about being forced into truly using something to defend themselves and what it would be like or do to you emotionally.

    Side story:

    My grandfather gave me two ‘samurai’ swords that he brought back from Japan after WWII. While I lived in San Francisco, I had one of the nation’s top Japanese sword experts check them out. Turns out one of them (the katana) was made before the war. It was painstakingly ‘antiqued’ to look like an old Samurai sword and it even had a very famous sword maker’s markings on the tang (would have been worth like $40k if he had made it). Everything on the blade was actually from the early-mid 1800’s, but the blade itself was modern.

    BUT… the other (a wakizashi, which is shorter than a katana) was truly legitimate. It was made in the mid 1500’s. It is a true, actual, real Samurai sword. It has marks on it that were caused by other swords. It also had koshirae (everything that goes on/over the bare blade, from grip to hilt to scabbard, etc etc) from the late Edo period (early-to-mid 1800’s) though. Anyway, HOW I WISH THAT THING COULD TALK!!! (in English, preferably)

      • No way. Means too much to sell. It’s actually not as rare as I would have expected, and condition is everything. The blade looks good but it is most definitely not perfect, with some minor surface imperfections. The scabbard, handle, and basically everything else are in poor condition. If I spent like $3k to have it professionally cleaned up, it would be worth like $4k ;-). Because it was my grandfather’s and it’s a reminder of his time in the service during WWII, I don’t think it’ll leave the family.

        • ‘Til someone sues to have it reunited with the family from which your grandfather liberated it.

          Not that I object to spoils of war, mind you, but sometimes courts do. Good luck…

        • My family swords were confiscated by McArthur. But he also gave the order which reunited my family. So I’ll call it steven.

    • I am ridiculously jealous. The oldest sword I’ve been privileged to handle was from the 1700’s.

  7. More punctilious pedantry with a practical purpose: The article implied that the sword was used for stabbing. A katana is much more efficient at slicing and dicing than at stabbing. So, if you’re close enough to stab, you’re better off slicing off an arm or disemboweling the perp. You also have better control and balance for follow-up dismemberment. Also, the attack is much more difficult to dodge.

    See, e.g., http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/item_klemnWD6Jipli57iRhOZhL

    • Depends on how trained the swordsman is.

      With less than a few years of practice, sure, you’re more likely to land a good hit using a strong kesa-giri (diagonal downward cut).

      On the other hand, it is seriously fscking hard to see a properly aligned sword that’s thrusting at your throat. Seriously, the visible cross-section is like 1cm^2.

      That said, I’d only use a thrust if I didn’t have any other choice because the aftermath is going to be extremely messy and ugly. You need a certain amount of room overhead for a kesa-giri, so in a tight hallway a thrust might be your only choice.

      If the hallway were wide enough, though, I’d try for a kiriage cut to take out the femoral artery, or failing that, a kote-giri to take the wrist. Both of those can be done from a low ready position, sword tip at knee level.

  8. I already KEEP a sword under my bed. It’s been there ever since the night we moved in and my wife felt “uneasy” with how quiet it was in the new house. Then again, I’m probably one of very few people out there who’s spent more actual time in formal training with a sword than a gun.

    • You might not be the only one. 🙂

      I’ve been shooting for 20+ years, but after 6 years of Toyama Ryu I definitely have more time holding a sword vs a gun…

  9. A gun is a stand off weapon. Think about the layout of your home. How much real stand off distance do you have? I’m not saying to trade off your guns for swords. But in a home defense situation if for whatever reason you could not own a gun a sharp pokey thing is a pretty good alternative.

    Edged weapons will work if gunpowder weapons are simply not available. Remember, it’s the person, not the tool.

    • Sure a sword beats nuthin’, but it’s certainly less wieldy than a shotty or a pistol, especially if you’re in a narrow hallway.

      I’d recommend a good Japanese 8″ chef’s knife if you can’t have a gun for whatever reason. Japanese-style knives are sharper, and a chef’s knife can stab and slash. I like the Shun 8″ with scallops, which prevent the blade from sticking in whatever you’re cutting.

      • Are you joking? There is no reason whatsoever to use a chef’s knife for self defense. I mean you can if you are attacked in the kitchen, I guess, but it’s less than ideal.

        • I arrested someone who newly killed his victim with an 8″ chef knife and a single thrust. And that was a crappy Oxo knife from a department store.

    • @jwm, a snubby is first and foremost a contact weapon. In the home, where shooting distances would not be lengthy, a snubby will also work just fine as a standoff weapon, but that’s not it’s best and highest use.

  10. Last week, I received my Filipino inspired Barong Machete from Condor. Its semi-leaf shaped 14″ blade can chop, slash, and thrust into wood, vegetation, or something more dangerous. The knife is full-tang, made from 1075 steel, and starts out at 3/16th of an inch think. The Barong cost $38 Amazon.

    • I picked up a replica machete used in The Book of Eli. It’s not the best made, but it’s tough, light and has an edge that keeps for days. After using it to cut lanes in thick brush preparing for hunting season, it was still sharp enough to cut through a melon without making it wobble. Best $20 I ever spent.

    • Three things you’re likely to need after an edged-weapon confrontation indoors:
      * stitches
      * new clothes
      * new flooring

      And that’s if you’re on the winning side.

  11. Now Biden will tell us to ditch the double barrel 12 for a Samurai Sword…

    This is not a story of pure heroism, it’s one of overcoming unnecessarily desperate measures.

    If had a fully loaded G17 it would have been a lot simpler.

  12. Pro-tip: if you do keep a sword in the house, don’t keep the safety on.

    “WTF, AlphaGeek? Swords have safeties?”

    Yep. Japanese swords, especially katana and o-katana length swords, generally have a flat cord called a sageo attached to the saya, or scabbard. The sageo is used to secure the sword to your belt when worn, and frequently used to secure the sword in the saya when stored. This is done by winding the sageo up over the tsuba (guard) onto the tsuka (handle).

    If you store your sword on a nice display rack with the sageo wrapped nice and tight over the tsuba, congratulations! You just turned your sword into a heavy baton in any stress situation where you might actually want to use it for effect.

    The solution is simple: re-wrap the sageo onto the saya before you put your freshly cleaned/wiped-down sword onto the rack. Bonus points if you learn to do it Japanese style with ridiculously flat, neat winding and a crazily elegant quick-release knot securing the end.

    • Pro-tip: the Roman gladius is a stabbing weapon, not a slashing blade. They typically held it low and stabbed up, usually trying to get through the belly and under the ribcage.

  13. As with any weapon, if you plan to use a long edged weapon in your house you need to practice and understand the strengths and weaknesses. As alpha geek mentioned, in some areas of the house your technique is limited.

    I have been able to add a modified 870 rail to my Katana to attached a Crimson Trace cm-201 light laser combo. I know when I get multiple visitors in the dark of night the last thing they see before their head drops to the floor is that red dot laser on their forehead…

    • There’s a reason the katana got put on the “ready rack” near the door, while the wakizashi stayed on you until bedtime, at which point it went on a rack within reach of your sleeping mat…

      • And, yet, historically, Ninja made fools of Samurai as “Honor” does not work in down and dirty fighting. That’s why we Operators show up about 0300 and shoot alot of holes in those that earn it. Draw a meter of steel on us? Get “bullets” not “bullet”. Double tap, keyhole. Use what weapon ya got but train, train. Then train some more. Homeowner had a firearm in first place, security lighting or sound, situation awareness, no need to get tied up in first place. Yes, I have been in gunfights, bladed attacks, blunt force weapon and empty hand deadly force encounters. I prefer my Glock 19. But I will use my Kissing Crane coffin handle Bowie or my WWII Camillus Airborne knife if need be. Its the Dog in the fight. But size DOES help. So does intent and velocity.

    • Now if you were to figure out how to attach the 870 to the katana, then you might be on to something

  14. If you must use a blade weapon, my suggestions would be something like the Roman Gladius. The short length is good for in-close actions, and it is designed for stabbing and slashing actions.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gladius

    For milsurp users, the Mauser 98 bayonet is a good option. 8″+ blade but the edge will often need some work. But the point will be sharp enough for stabbing. If you want reach, the Mosin-Nagant 91/30 with the spike bayonet is a good way to keep things at a distance but in-close the M44 with it’s attached spike also gives you 5 rounds of 7.62x54R as well.

    • I have a khukuri – “kukri” to westerners – a Gherka fighting knife made in the seventeenth century. It’ll do.

  15. I learned a lot in this post, not the least of which is “Don’t mess with the guy with the sword,” and “If forced to mess with the guy with the sword, try to do it through a scope.”

    • Yeah, that’s about right. 🙂 A swordsman is most vulnerable to a single well-aimed arrow, or three spears wielded by a well-coordinated team.

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