Now Available! The Vampire Combat Manual

Today is the official release for The Vampire Combat Manual!  I hope those of you who pick up the book enjoy it as much as I enjoyed analyzing, researching and writing about combat against this unique and deadly adversary.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts on the book.  As you can see, this site is called the Vampire Combat Club, meaning that I welcome everyone’s input on fighting the undead.  Feel free to send me an email with your comments in the About section, or post on the Vampire Combat Manual Facebook Page.

Non Habebis Meum Sanguinem.

Shotgun

 Range: 5–15 feet

Fire Rate: Medium

Skill Level: Medium

Description: Although most firearms are ineffective when confronting a vampiric attacker due to its accelerated healing factor, there is one exception to this guideline: the shotgun. A weapon that is common in sporting, hunting, and the personal safety arena, shotguns fire shells that contain either round pellets known as shot or solid projectiles called slugs. This firearm is popular for home defense due to its effectiveness in close quarters and the lack of aiming precision required resulting from the spray pattern generated by the shot projectiles.

Being that decapitation and dismemberment are possible tactics in vampire combat, the shotgun is one of the few firearms that has the ability to accomplish either at close range. A well-placed blast has the potential to sever limbs and, if targeted properly, remove the head altogether. The discharge from this weapon also has the capability of knocking your opponent backward a short distance, enabling you to either escape or follow up with an additional attack. It is for these reasons that the shotgun is one of the few firearms that have true promise in a vampire engagement.

Due to the popularity of the shotgun as a “game-changing” weapon with extreme stopping power, it is important to convey the fact that the shotgun’s performance in undead combat should not be misjudged. Many overconfident combatants have relied on the reputation of this weapon only to find themselves in dire straits once its limitations reveal themselves against an attacking succubus. In order to perform the type of shots that are capable of severing limbs, the combatant must be in fairly close proximity to the target. Too great a distance, and the dispersal pattern of the shot will wound rather than amputate the target. Thanks to the vampire’s healing ability, minor shot wounds will mend themselves much like other types of superficial trauma. Although precise aim is not required with this weapon, it does take a moderate amount of skill to wield the shotgun effectively. Should this be one of your primary ballistic weapons, practice with it extensively, mimicking its use in an undead situation by aiming at specific areas such as the appendages and head. The last place you want to discover how difficult it is to blow the limb clean off an attacking vampire is when the creature is seconds away from clutching your throat.

Some may argue that certain high-caliber firearms are equally capable of the requisite damage that can be performed by the shotgun.  This is absolutely true.  However, rifles and handguns of this type are often difficult to obtain and challenging to wield for the everyday citizen with minimal firearms training.  Remember also that with the shotgun, the shot dispersal means that pinpoint accuracy is not as crucial, not so with a single bullet shot from a high-powered firearm.

Jason Richter, Vampire

I pass through an unmarked doorway from an alleyway on Smith Street, the entrance to a speakeasy nearly a century  old. There are many saloons in Chicago that create a false air of menace, hoping to attract young, attractive professionals looking for a pseudo-sinister place to imbibe. This is not one of those places. During the Prohibition era, it was rumored that this establishment was renowned for drawing the most notorious of clientele. From the looks of the current patrons, it seems not much has changed. No one acknowledges my presence, nor that of Heinrick my bodyguard. Given my interview subject, I took it upon myself to hire professional security as a precautionary measure. A former member of the Dutch Special Forces and a K1 heavyweight kickboxing contender, Heinrick steps slightly in front of me and presses his beefy palm against my chest as he scans the room for immediate threats. Satisfied, we proceed to the back of the bar as instructed.

Seated at a table against the rear wall is Jason Richter, vampire. From outward appearances, Mr. Richter looks completely mundane. Nothing in his manner, dress, or appearance provides even a slight hint of his background. Pudgy and balding, he could easily be mistaken for a run-of-the-mill businessman, which I learn was exactly his profession prior to his conversion. Richter offers me the seat opposite him. He too does not acknowledge Heinrick, who stands close by.

Vampire Combat Manual: Do you remember anything about your conversion?

Jason Richter: July seventh, 1981.

VCM: You remember the exact date?

JR: We all do. As natural as remembering your own birthday, which, ironically enough, I have forgotten.

I was the senior comptroller for a midsize  insurance company in Seattle. The financial quarter just ended, and I was trying to catch up after the July Fourth holiday break. Since Karen, my daughter, was going to her first sleepover that evening, my wife only had to deal with Mark, our toddler, which gave me the excuse to work late that night. Not that I needed an excuse. Julie was a very trusting woman. Even with our two young children, she accepted the fact that I had to put in the hours, often coming home long after the house was fast asleep. I didn’t see much of her for a while, or the kids, or anyone else for that matter except my coworkers. And Marguerite.

Richter shifts forward in his chair, causing Heinrick to jump to attention. Richter glances at him briefly before shifting back in his seat.

JR: Marguerite—Margy—was one of the cleaning women in our office. I saw her often those late nights. We struck up a friendship. She seemed shy at first, just a “hello” and “thank you” when I would hand her my trash pail, but I believed she appreciated the acknowledgment. Most of the staff was gone by the time she started her shift, and those that were around ignored her. By the time I left in the evenings, it was often just the two of us on the floor.

After a while, we started speaking more as friends. She shared stories about her family, and I told her about my life as a late-blooming father. She was curious about what I did for a living and expressed interest in going back to school, although she mentioned that she was embarrassed of her thick Spanish accent. I was more than happy to help her understand what exactly I did as comptroller. After months of those talks, she probably had a better idea of what I did at work than most people at the company.

Richter shifts again, seemingly uncomfortable in his chair. He rubs the back of his neck with a pained sense of urgency.  He seems to settle down and continues to speak.

JR: I was working late again one night, and didn’t see Margy making her rounds. I figured she called in sick or had the night off. At about 3am, I was in the restroom rinsing my face, trying to keep myself awake.  I turned from the sink to dry my eyes, and there she stood, staring at me.  I smiled and asked if she couldn’t at least knock first. Margy didn’t laugh. After a few awkward seconds, I tried to move past her when she gripped my forearm. I remember the pain being excruciating. She grabbed me by the throat with her other hand, and forced me backward effortlessly. We both crashed through the handicapped stall door as she began to press her fingers against my throat. I started to push and flail against her, trying to free myself when Margy smiled, and said, in perfect English, “This will be much easier if you don’t resist, Jason.” My world went black, forever. That was July seventh, 1981.

Richter seems troubled again. He grips the edge of the table with both hands and slowly exhales. He reaches into his jacket lapel pocket, which causes a defensive stir in Heinrick. Richter removes a small plastic bag filled with a viscous, maroon-colored fluid. It takes me only a moment to identify the contents. He rips open the top of the package, and empties the contents down his throat. He tosses the empty container on the table. Richter’s agitation seems to subside, and he is able to continue.

JR: I woke several hours later, still in the bathroom stall. My head was resting against the base of the toilet, but I couldn’t feel the cold of the porcelain. I did feel the thirst. “Thirst” is a bit inaccurate. You don’t feel it only in your mouth or throat. You feel it in the very depths of your bones. I would say you feel it in your soul, if that term wasn’t completely ludicrous to me at this point. I made my way out of the office, and instinctively headed for home. When I arrived at my doorstep and heard Julie’s footsteps coming down the staircase as I rang the bell, I could smell the blood coursing through her veins. She opened the door. Julie was a very trusting woman. She didn’t resist. Neither did Mark.

VCM: Did you ever learn why you were turned?

JR: The reasons no longer matter. They once did, I guess, but I’ve since stopped caring. In the days following my turning, I discovered that Margy was very thorough. These were the days before computerized record keeping and redundant backup systems. The informal education I provided to her made it easy to make it appear as if I absconded with a sizable portion of my company’s payroll. The official story is that I murdered my wife and son after misappropriating millions from my employer, and disappeared into the ether. Why the elaborate setup, I’m still not exactly certain; it’s not as if I was going to show up at the precinct to declare my innocence.

VCM: A vampire existence is often portrayed as an enjoyable one. What has been your experience?

Richter remains silent for several minutes. The stillness becomes awkward, and I clear my throat to ask a different question, but he begins to speak.

JR: Imagine having to disconnect yourself from every person you have ever loved: your parents, spouse, friends, your children, knowing that should you ever encounter them again, your only thought would be how fast you could drain their bodies.  Imagine the worst physical pain you have ever experienced in your life: a shattered bone, a mind-numbing migraine, a debilitating illness. Imagine experiencing that pain replicated in every cell of your body, as if you could feel every one of the millions of nuclei splintering and bursting in agony. Now imagine experiencing that feeling every few days without adequate nourishment. That is what I must endure for an eternity. I’ve heard “experts” likening our feeding to the needs of a drug addict. It is much worse. There is no feeling of euphoria, no jubilation, no joy in satiating the thirst. There is only momentary relief, as if pouring water into a sack with a rip at the bottom; the minute you’ve topped off, the need to replenish it is almost immediate. How enjoyable does that sound?

I’ve answered enough your questions, I would appreciate you fulfilling our agreement.

I hand Richter a sealed envelope. Within it are photographs taken several weeks earlier, when I met with Karen Richter, the daughter who spent that evening decades earlier at a friend’s home. Now in her mid-thirties, Karen was taken in by her mother’s grandparents after the events described by my subject. I met with her under the guise of being a journalist researching unsolved criminal cases. Most of the photos are of Karen herself. Some are with her children. Richter removes the photos and stares at each for what seems an eternity, as if trying to will emotions long forgotten. His face remains expressionless, and he quietly replaces the photos in the envelope.

VCM: Are you familiar with a group known as the Blood Assassins?

In an instant, Richter seems to transform before my eyes. He opens his mouth obscenely wide and hisses, all the humanity seemingly drained from him.  He leaps over to my side of the table. Heinrick pushes me aside and draws his firearm. Richter grabs Heinrick’s gun hand by the wrist and twists his arm hideously backward, the opposite direction it is meant to move. The muscles and tendons in his rotator cuff snap like packing tape. Before Heinrick has an opportunity to cry out in pain, Richter snatches the pistol from his hand and strikes him across the temple, knocking him unconscious. None of the bar patrons react. Richter stands and adjusts his attire.

JR: A word of advice if you want to live to see the completion of your work. Do not mention that group again should you meet with others of my kind. Most will not receive it as thoughtfully as I have. And in the future, save your money on the thug and get yourself something more useful.

Before I can ask for an explanation, Richter departs. On the table lies the envelope containing the photos of his daughter, next to the empty blood packet. I retrieve both items, along with Heinrick, and depart the speakeasy. No one acknowledges our exit.

Psychological Preparation

While your primary focus should be to prepare physically for an impending vampire attack, your opponent may also wage an intense psychological battle during your engagement. This is particularly true if the creature is a member of the Seducer vampire sect, feels at risk of being defeated, or simply looks to entertain itself by manipulating its opponent prior to finishing its attack, much like a feline will toy with its prey prior to killing it.

As intense as a physical confrontation can be against the undead, a mental assault can be just as traumatic.  Members of the undead who are adept at using psychological tactics against their opponent often spend decades researching, studying, and analyzing the human psyche in order to find the optimal way to subdue their victim merely by conversing with them. Many will employ techniques used by the medical community, such as psychotherapy, neurolinguistic programming (NLP), and psychiatric training in order to achieve their objective. Some will go to great lengths to gain advanced proficiency in these skills, obtaining doctorate-level educations in these fields simply to become expert manipulators of the human condition.  Just as you need to condition your body to withstand a vampire’s physical assault, you must steel your mind in order not to fall victim to its cerebral attack. Following are recommendations to prepare your mental state prior to and during an undead engagement.

  • Trust Your Instincts — a difficult aspect of mentally preparing for a vampire attack is the fact that you could live your entire life without encountering one.  It is imperative, however, that you maintain an awareness of your surroundings, operating under the probability that you may someday be attacked. This low level of readiness can enhance your instincts in recognizing a potentially hazardous situation in advance. Should your instincts signal that a setting feels perilous for no apparent reason, take note. You may also experience moments throughout life where you feel the eyes of some unknown and unseen entity upon you. Although there are detractors of the “staring effect” and research continues into this phenomenon, some believe that human beings can tap into something akin to a sixth sensation of being observed. This sensation seems to grow particularly acute if the staring entity has negative or violent intentions associated with its gaze. While this phenomenon is yet to be confirmed by the scientific community, err on the side of caution and take heed of these feelings should you experience them.
  • Do Not Speak— Should you find yourself in the midst of a vampire attack, do not attempt to engage your opponent in any type of conversation or discourse. Remember that despite its humanoid appearance, the vampire’s intentions are focused solely on obtaining nourishment; any attempt to converse with your adversary provides it an opportunity to launch a psychological assault in the hopes of achieving its objective. The temptation to speak to a member of the undead is difficult to resist for many, as curiosity often trumps common sense. Individuals with higher intelligence or impressive educational pedigrees may also feel capable of handling themselves against what they may feel is an equal or inferior intellect. Do not fall into this trap. Regardless of how bright or clever you believe yourself to be, verbally engaging an attacking vampire only works in your opponent’s favor.
  • Do Not Listen — As important as it is to avoid speaking directly to your undead opponent, disregarding any communication coming from the vampire during combat is just as critical. A vampire will often attempt a psychological attack should the tide of battle begin to turn. Hence, if a vampire tries to coerce you into conversation, it is likely that it feels in danger to your attack. However, the psychological onslaught from the creature  can be as powerful as its bodily assault. A vampire will compliment, cajole, insult, and manipulate you in order to draw you into a verbal joust, and its ability to do so is extraordinarily seducing. You must not pay attention to any of the creature’s statements or inquiries, and absolutely do not reveal any personal details to your opponent. This is especially true if your adversary is someone you knew previously in their human existence. There is no doubt that the creature will use this past knowledge to take advantage of the situation. A seemingly inconsequential detail in a human conversation can provide an opening that a vampire can use to psychologically overpower its target without lifting an undead finger.

The Crossguard

When engaged with a member of the undead, one of three primary regions targeted on your torso is the neck area, specifically one of your carotid arteries that run the length of either side of your throat.  By utilizing a blocking maneuver known as the Crossguard, you can shield this region from your opponent’s snapping fangs.

Raise your arms toward your chest, and cross your wrists at your throat. Place the backs of your hands directly against the sides of your neck, with your palms open and facing outward. Keep your elbows and forearms tight against your chest as you guard your open neck with both hands.

The reason for crossing your arms and guarding your neck with the opposite hands rather than simply cupping your hands over your own neck is so that you can fend off any oncoming attacks by pushing away with your palms.  Cupping your own neck with your hands also leaves you open to a vampire covering your hands with its claws and strangling you with your own fingers.

Welcome, Vampire Combatants

You are being hunted. Perhaps not today, or this month. Perhaps not even this year. If you plan on living an existence outside of your primary residence once the sun sinks past the horizon, however, it is likely that you will be the target of a predator far more powerful than yourself. Since the dawn of civilization, the human race has taken solace in its perception of being at the apex of the ecological pyramid: the dominant species on planet Earth. Sadly, this is not the case. Most of the general populace is unaware of the fact that another species has usurped our position of supremacy. Sanguinem potantes, “drinkers of blood,” otherwise known as the vampire. Unfortunately for us, these creatures are as effective as we are at hunting species lower on the food chain.

Despite the inherent physical disadvantages we as humans face against this cunning and powerful adversary, the situation is far from dire.  In fact, a combatant trained in the tactics of countering a vampire attack has a high likelihood of success.  It is these tactics which I share with you within this site, and expanded upon in The Vampire Combat Manual: A Guide to Fighting the Bloodthirsty Undead.

A vampire may not be the type of opponent you can overpower or outrun, but with proper instruction, a well-planned strategy, and a little luck, this is an opponent you can outfight.

Melee Weapons

At melee range, you are severely hampered in your ability to terminate your opponent due to its limited vulnerabilities. At this distance, one of the most effective weapons at your disposal is a bladed implement.  When it comes to vampire combat, all edged weapons are not created equal. The type of blade available should dictate your method of attack. The converse also holds true; should you find yourself adept at a particular type of offensive technique, ensure that you have a weapon better suited to your style at the ready.  Given the wide variety of edged weapons available, we have classified the various types of bladed armaments into three distinct categories:

Heavy Blades—Weapons within this class are defined by their wide, substantial striking faces, and includes armaments such as battle-axes and halberds, and improvised weapons such as fire axes and camp hatchets.

Long Blades—Edged weapons in the long blade class include all sword types, such as broadswords, katanas, and claymores. Of our three blade classes, this one is the most adaptable, as it is capable of both a decapitation strike as well as a dismembering blow.

Melee Blades—Bladed arms in this class comprise weapons with shorter edges, roughly twelve to twenty inches in length, and include such weapons as the machete, barong, and kukri blade

Combat Exercises

A pervasive myth about physical fitness is that elaborate machines and expensive facilities are required to develop a healthy physique. In fact, most individuals can achieve outstanding results simply by utilizing exercises that were learned in grade school. There is a reason why despite a plethora of convoluted and obscure training methods that emerge year after year, basic calisthenics exercises are still used as a part of the training regimens of professional athletes, soldiers, and fighters.

Push-ups, pull-ups, squats, crunches, and jumping jacks all are exercises that require no equipment other than one’s own body weight and can produce a combat-ready physique, particularly for those who are new to conditioning or have not maintained a regular exercise routine. It is no coincidence that most military forces around the world focus on calisthenics to mold average civilians into a hardened fighting force.  A simple circuit of calisthenics, performed one after the other with little rest between movements can be an excellent starting point for the unconditioned vampire combatant.

Due to the familiarity most individuals have with these common exercises, we will not delve into the basic instructions required for each of these movements. However, there are three key points worth noting when performing a routine based on calisthenics:

1. Push Your Body—When performing exercises that utilize gravity and your body weight as the oppositional forces, it is easy to lull yourself into a lackadaisical routine. It should go without saying that the amount of effort you apply to each activity is directly correlated to the benefit gained from the exercise.  When executing each individual movement, perform an appropriate number of repetitions where the final few are near impossible to complete.

2. Move with Purpose—always keep in mind that you are training with a very specific objective—to save your own life in the small window of opportunity available during a vampire attack. Move with haste between each exercise, and execute each movement focusing on your ultimate intention: to survive.

3. Visualize Your Battle—It is easy to become distracted while performing any exercise routine, calisthenics in particular. You may have witnessed this yourself—an individual in the gym with good intentions, roaming about from machine to machine like a mindless zombie. In order to help retain your focus and attention span, visualize the relevance of your exercises to vampire combat. A push-up is no longer a push-up, but rather a means of keeping gnashing fangs a safe distance away. Not only does this help maintain your focus; it also can calm your senses in an actual combat setting, having already addressed the possible scenario successfully in your mind. Although we are discussing visualization in this particular section on calisthenics, it is a technique that should be employed in all the exercises covered.

Vampire Combat Fitness

In a combat engagement with a vampire, you will be facing an opponent that is physically superior compared to any human opponent you have ever encountered. Why, then, you may wonder, should you even bother with physical conditioning? Why not emphasize strategy and combat techniques instead, given the fact that you will always be at a physiological disadvantage and rarely be able to match your opponent in athletic prowess?

While it is absolutely true that the techniques and strategies you employ in battle will ultimately determine your success in vampire combat, your level of conditioning is what provides the opportunity to deliver these techniques at the precise moment to ensure victory. Both technique and conditioning are necessities in battling a bloodthirsty ghoul—perfecting one without the other will doom you to failure.

Let us also make this point clear: We are not discussing a gentlemanly match of fisticuffs or a  rule-bound grappling bout. Most vampire engagements last no more than a few minutes, and, like most assaults, are brutal, vicious, and utterly exhausting. The window of opportunity you have to survive the attack and neutralize your opponent is already slim; your level of conditioning can help widen that gap. The other detail to reemphasize is that as a human being, you have the ability to continue to improve your athleticism regardless of your age or current level of fitness. Your undead opponent, on the other hand, is unable to improve its physical assets with additional exercise.

When it comes to what type of conditioning you should focus on, there are many varieties of exercise you can employ to help your overall fitness level. We will concentrate our discussion, however, on activities that will explicitly improve your chances in vampire combat.

Ultraviolet (UV) Light

Of all the creature’s weaknesses, a vampire’s incapacity to withstand exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is the most noteworthy. All members of the vampire species suffer from an extreme form of xeroderma pigmentosum – the inability to repair cellular damage caused by exposure to UV radiation.  Any protracted exposure to UV light will set off a chemical reaction that causes the creature’s exposed epidermal layer to oxidize and combust within a matter of seconds. Based on recorded empirical data, the following timing sequence occurs during a vampire’s exposure to UV light:

  • 1–10 seconds: third-degree burns
  • 10–20 seconds: spontaneous combustion
  • 30+ seconds: full immolation

While the specific activators that cause this violent reaction have yet to be analyzed, it is apparent that UV light has a powerful effect on the undead species. It is surmised that the reaction is similar to the use of light to eliminate bacteria and as a disinfecting germicidal agent—albeit in a much more powerful context. Whatever the reason for this reaction, this liability not only enables a human combatant to leverage a powerful ally in the warming rays of the earth’s sun; it also keeps the undead at bay for roughly half the operating day, allowing humans to go about business in broad daylight with little concern of being attacked by a voracious ghoul.

However, it is not only direct exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays that make the daylight hours a liability for the undead. A vampire’s biorhythm, its physical clock cycle, seems to be directly tied to the rising and setting of earth’s heat source. Thus, a vampire’s physical advantages seem to ebb and flow as the hours pass from sunset until sunrise. It comes as no surprise, then, that most vampire attacks occur between the hours of midnight and three a.m., when the creature’s physical biorhythm is at its peak. Conversely, a vampire will grow increasingly vulnerable closer to the hours of sunrise as its physical cycle begins to wane.  The creature is at its weakest when the sun’s ultraviolet rays are at their peak, approximately twelve p.m. to three p.m. Understanding the creature’s physical cycles can help you ascertain your level of vulnerability during a combat entanglement with the undead.

While the rays of the sun are the most obvious source of UV light, they are not the only source. Due to the growing popularity of indoor gardening, many artificial sources of ultraviolet light are now available to the public in the forms of fabricated lamps, beams, and light bulbs. These sources can be just as effective as the light of the sun, if not more so due to their portability. Be cautious in their use, as exposure to UV light through these portable devices can be as damaging to a human’s skin and eyes as the rays of the sun. They are also notoriously fragile; wielding such a device in the heat of vampire combat will in most cases cause your opponent to shatter the light source before mounting its counterattack.