• TSG Defense

An Armed Society is a Polite Society



An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life. Robert A. Heinlein


In the post about the Four Firearms Safety Rules, we ended with a point about the etiquette of gun handling.


The point is that this gun handling etiquette is designed to be super safe and, therefore, polite -- as is the original design of most all etiquette.


Nowadays we think of etiquette as the snobby behavior of socialites designed as expected and accepted social behavior -- maybe because the word itself came from the French in 1750.


But the roots of many of our common courtesies come from more dangerous times. Times when almost everyone was armed.

  • Shaking hands is a way to show someone that you don't have a weapon in your hand and (presumably) do not intend to drive a dagger into them.

  • Holding a door for someone and insisting they go through first. It might appear to be a play to someone's status, but is really a move to keep a tactically superior position behind a potential adversary while going through a "fatal funnel".

  • Being quick to apologize for any real or imagined affront. You might not know the skill or abilities of a potential adversary if they decide your actions were a threat to their perceived honor in the village.

  • Tipping your hat or lifting your helmet's visor is thought to be a polite gesture to show a potential adversary you are not hiding your identity, therefore you are less of a threat.

  • The aisle between political parties in houses of parliament or government is said to be at least two sword-lengths wide to lessen the ability for political opponents to stab each other.

  • Eating 'Continental Style' is thought to be more polite than 'American Style', but it affords the diner the ability to keep their knife in their strong hand throughout dinner. American Style proponents like the slower pace of dining afforded by constantly shifting the fork from the left hand for cutting and back to the right hand for eating. These proponents put down their knife and place their left hand into their lap, lessening the temptation to place your elbows on the table. Continental Style proponents keep both their hands above the table and do not shift their knife out of their right hand.

  • Speaking of eating while armed, the origin of the dinner knife came from an attempt by Louis XIV in 1669 to decrease violence by making the tips of knives rounded.

  • Because of this right-hand bias, your sword arm was valuable and you had your "best man" on your right side to protect it during battle. This also explains the origin of the phrase 'right hand man'.

  • Our modern wedding parties are set up to reflect dangerous times. The groom has his party of groomsmen and his Best Man on his right. When parents did not consent to a suitor's advances, the Best Man and groomsmen would kidnap the bride and her maids and guard them until after the wedding.

Even the side of the road we drive on is thought to be influenced by arms:


  • On the continent, it is thought many armed horsemen often carried a shield, preferring to keep it between themselves and others as they passed. It also kept their sword arm free and protected. So, traffic passed on the right.

  • On the British Isles, it is thought armed horsemen preferred to pass others on their sword arm side to be able to reach their adversaries. So, traffic passed on the left.

  • There is a school of thought that says in the early days all swordsmen passed on the left. It was the advent of large wagons drawn by teams of horses which changed it. Drivers would sit on the left horse at the rear of the team so they could use their right hand to wield the whip. With this set up, they preferred to pass on the right so they could judge the distance to other team-driven wagons. This would explain partly why American and European cars have the wheel on the left, but we drive on the right side of the road. British cars have the wheel on the right, but drive on the left. The most probably explanation for this is that the driver's position for both styles is set up so that passengers can be let out at the curb without having to exit into the street.

The ubiquitous use of arms also determined many of our clothing and fashion choices. This comes into play during our women's self-defense courses because of the way clothing is styled to be fastened and unfastened by right-handed users.


  • Men's clothing is always fastened left over right, meaning the buttons on are the right. This is in response to the fact that most people are right handed but, also is a functional aspect of carrying your sword. To draw your sword, you have to reach into your cloak, coat, or cape with your right hand which means the garment needs to fit left over right. You still have this left-over-right arrangement for buttons and zippers. For the women's self-defense method, we can assume the attacker will use his right hand to unzip or unbutton his clothing.

  • Traditional women's clothing, on the other hand, can be found with a right-over-left closures, meaning the buttons are on the left. This is a throwback to the times when ladies had maids to assist them in dressing. Therefore, the right-handed maids were fastening the garments on someone else -- a mirror image of fastening the garments yourself. Presumably, the status of those women having maids influenced the industry to make women's garments as if all women had maids in waiting. This has changed a bit now with more unisex clothing and the practical admission that most females are right-handed as well.

All of these tangents can serve to remind us that politeness in society has a very real purpose. That politeness gets even more important as more of you are stepping up with your duty to be responsibly armed citizens.


Being armed can be a heady experience at first. The power of weapons is palpable. Now you have the ability to use that power in a constructive, protective way or in a destructive way. The fact that you are here reading this tells me you are one of the good citizens we need. Statistic show that concealed carry permit holders are extremely responsible. Statistics show that CCW holders are six times more law abiding than police officers in terms of firearms violations.


Being armed is your right. But it's also your responsibility for controlling yourself and controlling your weapon.


Being armed does not make you bulletproof.


Being armed does not make you tougher.


Being armed does not make you smarter.


Being armed does not make you more respectable.


Being armed does not make you impervious to emotionally juvenile actions.


Being armed does make you safer and more able to defend yourself and your loved ones.


Get training, get confident. Ignore those who might insult you or cut you off in traffic. You don't need to lash out in fear anymore.


You are on the correct side of a just society. Be the best example of what people think we should be.

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