Revisiting the Bullwhip

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by Fiv3r, Jan 4, 2021.

  1. Fiv3r

    Fiv3r Member

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    Let me preface this with the admittance that there are about 4,000 other hand to hand tools that make better "practical" weapons than the whip. Then again, while I am sure I could make shorter work of a charging attacker with my 50+" Claymore, I'm even less likely to have that on my person than my whip...and I almost never have a whip on me. I am in no way saying that we should all channel our inner Indiana Jones and rely on our opponents to stay 10 feet out of range and only attack us in wide open cattle country or in spacious palaces with high ceilings while we deploy our whip. If nothing else, I am wondering who here has dabbled in cracking a whip and if there are any improvised self defense accessory techniques you could see fit to use if engaged in CQC with nothing in your hand except for a bullwhip. Might be kinda fun in a novel/academic sort of way.

    So my experience with a bullwhip...not a great deal, but probably more than your average Joe off the street. I bought my first non-garbage bullwhip about 15 years ago. I got it from a Western Prop supply catalog paying the pretty high (for the time) 80-ish dollars for the braided nylon cord whip. Im not sure the number of plaits, but I would guess around 12. Good weight, nearly indestructible (case in point as I still have it and pop it from time to time), and accurate enough that I got to where I could hit small targets with generally decent accuracy. Once I had mastered getting the whip to crack, I spent most of my winter months in our empty warehouse at work targeting a leather "rat" i had made out of a an old scrap piece of leather that was folded over and tied to about the size and shape of a standard rat. It had originally been my cheap target for my old Crossman pump pellet pistol.

    So the more I cracked this whip, the more it felt like second nature in my hand. I recognized the familiar whorl whihh sound slide past my ear as pulling the body of the whip back chambered my strike. I knew where every part of the whip was at every moment and really got a thrill out of knowing that I controlled the sound barrier. What was a whirling dance of nylon and centrifugal force could easily be channeled into a thunderous crack wherever I deemed put it.

    So flash forward 15 years. I have some Amazon money to burn and have had a hard time coming up with something I feel like splurging on. I came across a 16 plait 6' kangaroo hide whip for about $120 bucks and decided to give it a shot. It should be here Wednesday. When I was a kid, I always bought those super cheap $5 3 braid pieces of junk from the local fall festival. They generally would fall apart within a couple of days...partly because they were of terrible quality and mostly be abuse spend those days whipping at trees and trying to swing on branches;) I have always wanted a "real" leather bullwhip as I am a child of the 80s and Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones was the pentacle of cool. Besides, ammo is still scarce and I need one more activity to do in my backyard to give the neighbors pause besides my axe throwing ;)

    So as I have been waiting on my new toy, I have brought out my old 6' nylon whip to see how else a coiled roll of weighed flexible material could be used. Even digging on YouTube, I wasn't able to find much in the way of whip weaponry short of some fancy cracking and a couple of Dude Bros just whacking the hell out of a heavy bag with a short snake whip as a form of self defense. What I did find was some good reading based on how to use a bullwhip as a close up tool from a few martial artists who were asked hypothetically if they would find merit in using a whip. It was an interesting read and very much a good showing of the old Indian/Arrow adage that holds a lot of water.

    Choking up and making a big loop in your cracking hand yielded a heavy jack that could not only strike but could be used to trap and entangle an incoming strike. The large knot at the base of the whip handle was basically a slap jack. A powerful strike would easily damage an attacker. I found that even giving a good sweep of the elbow with the fall and cracker trailing resulted in a bit of sound and potential misdirection. Furthermore, if an attacker did break off and distance himself from your heavy close up strikes and traps, if the whip is held in a way where it can fall freely, it can be deployed as it was meant to be in short order. Now you have distance, range, and the full arsenal of Mother Physics on your side again.

    Depending on your coordination, some talked about holding a knife in your off hand to keep an attacker from closing in too much. I think I would end up hitting myself or cutting my whip:D. At a certain point even a bullwhip becomes too absurd regarding theatrics.

    Once again, I am not trying to shoehorn a tool for cattle driving into an actual defensive role. I see such hypothetical discussion about the same way as those who practice two handed sword play. Potentially effective but impractical to the point of being something only enjoyed in a training/exercise setting. I would say that I am thinking about bringing my whip along to the cabin. Mostly because the cracks echoing off the rocks would be impressive, but we do get a few stray dogs and coyotes that thunder through and im more likely to want to scare them off rather than kill them.

    So do any of you have any thoughts on the matter? I would even like your thoughts on the use of cords of rope or chain. My old man kept a 4' piece of greasy chain in his truck tool box "just in case" that im reasonably sure was more for attitude adjustment rather than any hitching chores.

    Thanks in advance :)
     
  2. glistam

    glistam Member

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    Fellow whip-cracker here, and one with the slightly dubious honor of having used a whip in self-defense twice.
    I've made several, but my personal favorite is a paracord "blacksnake" I had made for me decades ago that still works great. You mentioned using the knot in the handle as a blackjack? The blacksnake fills that knot with a lead ball.
    Still, for the most part I consider the whip to be a noisemaker and dexterity performance art. No matter how accurate a shot you are, there's too many variables going into getting the popper to land at full speed on a moving, aggressive target.

    A careful distinction should be made between a true whip and a flexible blunt weapon. Whips are tapered in shape and have a popper; the design is intended to create mechanical advantage and acceleration to make the [nearly weightless] tip go as fast as possible, beyond the speed of sound. Flexible weapons like chain usually have no taper and are intended to deliver a striking end with sufficient mass to transfer energy on impact. Their main pros are they they take up less space when stored, and can sometimes circumvent blocking. It's actually not been settled to my satisfaction if the flexibility increases velocity or impact force. People say it does, but I've not seen it proven experimentally that a rigid-hafted weapon with the same weight distribution hits lighter than a flexible one.

    EDIT: I've since located an experiment on Youtube where an engineer struct a load cell with a mace and then a "flail" weapon of equal mass and length. As I suspected, the flail's impact force is less than the rigid weapon. It seems that the advantages of flexible weapons is really down to concealability, lack of hand-shock, and some element of being able to strike around things.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2021
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  3. Barry the Bear

    Barry the Bear Member

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    Always loved Indy as well, never had my own whip however, I made do playing with twine. I do remember tractor supply selling a cheap 10 dollar bull whip from India I wanted to buy it just for fun. On that same trip my brother and I ended up with bruised backs when we took horse whips to each other while "horsing around" get it???
     
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  4. Speedo66

    Speedo66 Member

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    There was a Sat. morning TV cowboy I used to watch as a kid, Lash LaRue. With a name like that he obviously carried a whip, and used it to pull guns out of peoples hands or bind them up.

    Enjoyed the novelty of him rather than just the shoot 'em up regular cowboys.
     
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  5. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

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    I have a good bit of training and practice using flexibles, but not whips.

    I have carried paracord lanyards with heavy carabiners on one end, and either keys or a sturdy flashlight on the other through multiple controlled access, no weapon areas. Having a low visibility weapon with 3' reach will be invaluable if anyone smuggles through plastic letter openers again!

    John
     
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  6. PWC

    PWC Member

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    When a early teenager, I had a 12' whip my brother left home. Learned early on not to throw underhand unless you wanted to hit your nose. Got quite good at cutting the heads off Johnson grass and leaves off trees/bushes.

    Replaced the fall and cracker, but not properly, and the whip "blew" the fall and started unraveling. My daughter bought a whip and I find using a whip is like riding a bike. The whip does need to be broken in.
     
  7. Fiv3r

    Fiv3r Member

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    I recall you mentioning having some experience with flexibles, John. I appreciate you weighing in;)
     
  8. Fiv3r

    Fiv3r Member

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    I got my nose the first time I tried popping a cheap whip. It does take a bit of smacking ones self to get the hang on it;)

    I'm looking forward to breaking in an actual leather whip. My nylon one broke in pretty quick. I actually got my daughter to swing it around a bit this past spring, but she felt like she was going to tag herself. Ill try again when I break in the leather one over the weekend.
    There is a feed supply right across the street from my office. I picked up some saddle soap today to treat the leather so that is can soak and cure a bit before I give it a workout later in the week.
     
  9. Corpral_Agarn

    Corpral_Agarn Member

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    Anthony de longis is largely held as an authority on whips as weapons. He has youtube stuff.

    I have a few different kinds of whips I use for cattle driving.

    Personally, I don't think a whip makes a good weapon. Its really really hard to keep your opponent at that ideal distance where your crack is like a knife.

    Once he's inside you have a thick rope with a club at the end.

    That's not to say you can't use a rope with a club at the end for self defense, you absolutely can, but it's not really a designated tool designed for that.

    Longer than 10ft of bullwhip is too long, imo.

    I like my stock whips to be 7ft (you measure stock and bullwhips differently).

    These days I use a 9ft Florida cow whip and I quite like it for it's purpose.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
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  10. Corpral_Agarn

    Corpral_Agarn Member

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    Make sure not to over treat the leather. Typically the whip maker will tell you what you should be doing. You can over oil/treat them.

    If you are hitting yourself with the whip, there's a chance you are using sub optimal whip mechanics.

    I'll see if I can dig up a vid or two I have done regarding whip cracking. Not that they are very good videos, but they might help.
     
  11. PWC

    PWC Member

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    Beginers usually throw umderhamd which results in self hits, I've never hit myself with overhand throws.
     
  12. Corpral_Agarn

    Corpral_Agarn Member

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    if you can get past the quality of the vids, these are the two most used cracks I use:


     
  13. kBob

    kBob Member

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    I suppose my most memorable bull whip story to me is at seven when a parental unit took my uncle's eight footer from me, rolled it and beat the snot out of my behind with the roll.

    I had never once hit five year old sister with it while snapping cigarettes from her hand! Did not see what the issue was until I had kids.

    Pretty much put an end to my whipper snapping days.

    Oh I occasionally use a buggy whip for ground training a horse. My latest "whip" thing was after someone mentioned "Liberty Valance" and I just had to make a wrist wisk ... which SWMBO refuses to use or even ware. Maybe I will wear it on my next range trip and see if anyone gets it. Well hopefully I will not run into Jimmy Stewart or John Wayne...

    -kBob
     
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  14. Corpral_Agarn

    Corpral_Agarn Member

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    Oh man. Yeah that would have earned we a real "woodshed" moment.

    I use a "stick and string" for ground work and such.

    Not sure I know what a "wrist wisk" is? is that a quirt?
     
  15. kBob

    kBob Member

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    Just a bit of hay twine braided into a wrist loop and a foot or so of tail to thwack horsey's hide with to let him or her know you are serious and it needs to keep its mind on work. also handy for keeping flies off both of you, thus "wisk" Same thing heavier made of leather is a bit stronger and I have seen them with beads woven in but no thank you.

    -kBob
     
  16. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    Fun stuff. I think it was "Pale Horse Coming" by Stephen Hunter in which a protagonist used a whip to good effect, and good reading. I didn't really buy it though, and still don't. It seems to me that the primary disadvantage of a whip is that the defender would have enough time to see it coming and move slightly to, well, anyplace else. Is that not the case?
     
  17. Corpral_Agarn

    Corpral_Agarn Member

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    gotcha. we call em quirts.

    we call the long braided rawhide ones Romals.

    I only rode one horse who really needed one LOL
     
  18. Corpral_Agarn

    Corpral_Agarn Member

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    Depends.

    A short whip (6ft and under) can move real fast. about as fast as a punch, really.

    He's De Longis (whip stuff starts at 1:30 or so)
     
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  19. Fiv3r

    Fiv3r Member

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    10:4 :)
    I am a leather bender by hobby and know to steer away from stuff that softens the leather. According to the maker, a bit of roughly applied (mostly dry) saddle soap left on for half a day or so will protect the leather. Short of getting it dirty, it will only need to be wiped down after use and treated every 6 or so months.

    I haven't hit myself with a whip in 30 years. I'm talking about 10 year old me thinking that the way to pop a whip was to fling it up and down and snapping the popper right at the tip of my nose the first time :D

    I typically prefer the over head figure 8 myself.
     
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  20. Fiv3r

    Fiv3r Member

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    De Longis really knows his stuff. That was a good demonstration of just using the whip in less than full reach. His big loop vids really opened my eyes as to what you could do with a bullwhip as a flexible weapon, and those little short snaps would at least get someone's attention to keep them on their guard. While I picked a 6' whip mostly to work within the confines of my own yard, the idea of something that was more maneuverable didn't escape me.

    While the theory of defeating a whip is solid: get inside the radius to where it can't crack. It isn't without it's risks. Someone with a hellova lot more skill than me could probably wear an attacker out with short strikes, traps, wraps, and all manner of aggravation. Plus, I dont think anyone wants to get hit with a whip. Even if it is mostly bluster except at the pinpoint of of the crack, we have all seen movies and have an idea of the damage it can do at the back of our minds.

    I never want to rely on a psychological weapon, what a bullwhip whistling around most likely will make ones backside pucker.
     
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