Certain words in the English vocabulary produce very strong mental pictures when they are used. Take for instance the word “Gunfight”. When we hear it, despite the story that may go along with it, we often imagine two or more people blazing away at each other, bullets whizzing through the air. It could be the opening scene to Gunsmoke, with Matt Dillon quick drawing on the outlaw or maybe Stallone as Rambo, man-handling an M-60 while it breathes fire and spits brass. The point being, the prominent thing we see in our minds when we hear that word are the GUNS.
The reason for this could aptly be termed “Verbal Conditioning”. Notice the placement of the two words: “Gun” first and “Fight” second. Using the precedent principle, we could deduce that the GUN (the tool being used in the fight) is the primary focus, while the FIGHT is secondary, having less importance in the overall scheme of things and being much more ambiguous as to it’s meaning.
Let’s face it, we live in a very GUN AWARE culture. Due to Hollywood movies,”Shooter” Video Games and the over abundance of mass shootings by mentally deranged assholes, Guns have become part of the national consciousness. Looking back in context, today a 10 year old, (in part due to the Call of Duty Video game Series) is much more likely to be able to recognize an AK-47 or a Glock pistol than they would have 30 years ago, when Atari “Pac-Man” or “Pitfall” was the height of entertainment for that age group. What is tragic to me about all of this is not that guns are popular with kids, or that the youth of America are more aware of them, but that guns are fundamentally misunderstood for what they are.
You see, Americans love to put the GUN on a pedestal. They love to show them off in red velvet display cases and hang them over their fireplace mantle as a badge of honor. They love to go to the firing range not really to practice, but to “show off” their beloved rifle or pistol, secretly hoping that the shooter on the line next to them will say a flattering remark or ask them a question about it, so they can recite their pre-rehearsed speech about their new “baby”. And I am sure all of you have the seen “that guy” during a Shooting class who wants to clean his gun after every drill or refuses to get down on the ground, fearing his “baby” might get dirty. You think I am making all this up? I bet I am hitting home with a lot of you guys right now, or at the very least describing a good friend of yours!
As responsible CO’s we have to be careful not to become more TOOL focused than FIGHT focused. The entire mentality of WINNING THE FIGHT, lies not in the tool itself. As Jeff Cooper famously said, “Any GUN will do, if you will do”; or to say it another way, “Any TOOL will do, if you will do!” It lies in having the mindset of “I am going to survive this day, no matter what it takes.”
That is the beauty of Combative Principles in my opinion. They are brutally simple and cut to chase in terms of winning the fight; no katas or complicated techniques to remember, just pure, un-adulterated violence of action until your enemy is no longer a threat to you. These principles apply across the board to any weapon you can pick up, starting with empty hands, stick, knife and ending with a firearm. Combative Principles lie at the heart of the saying “One Mind, any Weapon.”
Being prepared AT ALL TIMES to go from zero to 100mph in terms of defending oneself lies at the heart of what the CO drills and rehearses for everyday. We have to be prepared to FIGHT. No matter where we may find ourselves and no matter what we may or may not have in our hands.
In closing, CO’s need to stop the gun (and knife) worship and devote more time to FIGHTING in all your training!! If we use the above video as a thermostat to measure the REALITY of the street, then we have to come to the conclusion that our attacker is gonna be close, despite our best efforts to have the textbook “Reactionary Gap”. We need to develop a tool box of empty hand strikes (or knife strikes) in order to gain distance and room to draw our firearm. We need to be aware of “gun grabs” and actively practice weapon retention. We need to be able to (as Southnarc puts it) to fight “from the clinch” or to put it plainly, to fight from that “OH SHIT!!!” moment when things have already went south.
I originally wrote this to address a rash of violent attacks back in 2013-2014 where innocent people were being senselessly attacked and “knocked out” on the street by groups of young thugs.
Seeing that mob street violence has made a HUGE comeback in 2020, I thought it might be smart to review this material.
As society continues to crumble and random violence begins to be the norm, the CO must up his game in being prepared to meet that threat head-on. The most recent brand of this random type of street violence is the “Knockout” Game”.
A “Game” which to date has killed 7 people.
I do not intend to waste your time opining on why these assholes are doing this stuff. Frankly, I could care less in understanding a criminals reasoning; All I care about is me and my family’s safety.
Hopefully the following review will help you bring you and your family home safely too!
Just simply being aware of what is going on around you is simple, pure logic, and in most cases, helps the CO avoid any hassles. ACTION on our part will always trump us having to REACT to our attacker. When we can put a hitch in our attackers OODA loop, (making them REACT versus the CO having to REACT) we stand a better chance of coming up on top. But the Knockout Game presents somewhat of a quandary in that dept. These idiots primary MO is come up to you on your blind side and deliver a knockout sucker punch. So how do you stay aware in a situation like that? Do you grow a pair of eyes in the back of your head? Do you walk around backwards?? Do you develop your “Inner-Ninja”?? I say that not to just get a cheap laugh out of you, but to raise an important “sidebar” point ” you need to be aware of. There are those in the self-defense training community that like to take very simple subjects (like Awareness) and make them overly complicated. Their reason for doing this is very simple: Money. The more in-depth they MAKE YOU THINK a subject is, the more classes, books and DVD’s you are going to buy. The problem with this besides it being terribly unethical is that most of the time they are teaching you a LOAD OF CRAP that is not realistic, not street-proven and has no true value as far as self-defense goes.
Let me be blunt and make this easy for you: You cannot maintain 360 degree awareness 100% of the time. No matter how much you keep your “head on a swivel”, no matter what kind of “reactionary gap” you SAY you give people, no matter how well your senses have been tuned and no matter how much “martial arts” training you have. We live in a society where we are in close proximity to people, it is that simple. I have seen people who say “When in public, I don’t let anybody get within 21 feet of me”, yet let them go to the grocery store and within 45 seconds I can prove them a liar. Being in “Condition Yellow” all the time is a state of mind guys, it is not a some LAW written in stone. Letting people get close to me does not put me in danger UNLESS I am unaware of what is going on with the particular situation. For example: What is their behavior like? What is in their hands? Where are their hands? How many of them are they?All of these factors will let you know if you need to put more distance between you and them.
To answer the primary question about how to stay aware of what is behind you and to avoid getting sucker punched, the best case scenario answer is to keep your head on a 360 degree swivel , which we know we cannot do 100% of the time, and try to address the threat before it has the chance to strike (Action trumps Reaction). Of course, that is BEST CASE scenario and in all probability will not happen that way. Your most logical course of action is to train yourself to REACT in such a way to avoid getting knocked out and at the same time neutralize the threat.
There are numerous “positions” or “guards” combatives trainers have out there to teach people how to avoid getting knocked-out on the street; there is an extensive illustrated list of them on Lee Morrsion’s excellent resource site Urban Combatives. In my experience and training, I have found the best “guard” in a situation where you are being attacked from the rear (6 o’ clock) by an unknown number of assailants is a variation of the “Crazy Monkey”. I call it a “variation” because I combine it with my standard “Default” Guard position (Southnarc’s version); however, in drilling with the SN Default in full-on sparring, I found that when attacked from the rear, blind, by more than 1 assailant, the default left some holes, namely blocking angular punches and flowing with the dynamic movement of a street fight. The “Crazy Monkey” addresses those issues, while the variation I use helps to get a solid presentation of a weapon (knife or gun) into the fight. Understand that your intentions must not be to just keep from getting knocked out, but also to neutralize the threat attacking you!
The decision whether or not to introduce lethal force into this type of scenario is up to you; there are those who seem to think that this kind of “prank” does not warrant that extreme kind of reaction since these are just “kids” and “pranks”. I wholeheartedly disagree with that opinion for 2 main reasons:
Seven People have been killed thus-far in these so-called “Kids Game”. Read that story HERE.
The attackers are typically in a group from three to ten teenage males.
Training to introduce lethal force into any situation MUST always be precipitated by the CO understanding the Law in their respective states in regards to Self-Defense. In this particular scenario,TX Penal Code Sec 9.32applies.
(B) To prevent the other’s imminent commission of aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery or aggravated robbery.
Combine all of this with the lethal history of these types of attacks, the Disparity of Force (more than 1 attacker typically) and the CO typically feeling in “FEAR FOR THEIR LIVES” and the justification for applying LETHAL Force is very high.
3. The Fight
So getting back to the subject at hand. You have been attacked, you have covered up to the best of your ability with a default guard and are still on your feet. You are a tad dazed, confused and probably a little pissed off. What happens in the next 3-4 seconds is crucial and not something I can put in a bullet point presentation for you!
In the time that your mind is processing all the pertinent data, such as: Where did the blow come from? How many attackers are there? Am I wounded? You will need to create distancebetween you and the attackers. The reason for this is simple: Firstly, it will be harder to strike you, Secondly, if you plan on introducing a weapon into this fight, you will need some distance between you to do that. The closer the attacker is to you, the more likely he can foul your draw and/or grab the weapon. If that happens then you might find yourself in the worst case scenario: Fighting with the attacker over your OWN weapon! In CQ fights, retention of your weapon takes priority, because once the attacker knows you have a weapon, now he goes into self-preservation mode too! So we need to be prepared to “Create that Distance” by however we can: punches, kicks, elbows, knees, head-butts, eye-gouges, nut kicks, etc.
To address the issue of multiple attackers, it has been my experience both from the field and multiple CCTV & Dash-Cam videos of attacks, that once the first attacker is put down, the rest will scatter like frightened deer. Of course, vigilance demands that you cannot count on that, so the CO must prepare for the worst case scenario, which would be engaging multiple targets in succession. It is also a possibility that once the “knockout” is unsuccessful, the attackers will lose heart and flee. Again, you can never count on that, so always prepare for the worst.
In conclusion, the CO needs to ensure that padded Force-on-Force scenarios are part of his routine. Make sure and cover all the possibilities:
Going to ground
Fighting from the “clinch”
Drawing weapons from various positions
Spend a lot of time working on your Default Guard..remember this is what is going to keep you on your feet so you can fight. Think of the guard as your automatic “flinch response”; whenever attacked you go to your guard. This will take alot of practice, so drill that way as often as possible! Find what guard works best for you and then tailor and dovetail that into your weapon presentation.
Work on various positions to draw your weapons from, and don’t just fixate on one position either, for instance; drawing a folding knife from your pocket, drawing a small pistol from a pocket holster, drawing a fixed blade from horizontal 12 o’clock or 6 o’clock concealed, drawing a handgun from AIWB or strong-side concealed. All of these positions are going to demand you fine tune your mechanics so they flow seamlessly. Remember, “Slow is smooth and smooth is Fast” in weapon presentation, so as you drill, eliminate any Un-needed movements or “hitches”.
Lastly, Fights are never STATIC!
People tend to move to avoid getting hit and/or hurt. Be prepared to have quick feet, shoot on the move and drive through your opponent like a sledgehammer!
Hope for the Best, Train for the worst and Stay Dangerous!
Ambi= (Ambidextrous): The ability to use the right and left hands EQUALLY well.
Being a military history buff, I really enjoy studying the progression/evolution of tactics and weaponry in warfare through the years. One of the most applicable of these “progressions” that pertains to the CO specifically has been the development of being ambidextrous in the use of weapons. Now when we think “ambi” we automatically think of somebody being able to write well with both hands. When we translate this skill to weapons however, it goes far beyond that. It is not only the ability to use either hand equally well, it is also the ability to wield two weapons (one in each hand) and be able to use each of them independent of each other or in tandem, depending on what the situation calls for.
It is interesting to me that as far back as the 10th Century, the ideal of the “Combative Continuum” existed; the logical premise that skill sets can span over a variety of different weapons. Starting with stick, then two sticks, then a sword, then a sword and a dagger, then a rapier, then a rapier and a dagger, then a rapier and a pistol, then two pistols. Fast forward to the 19th Century and the old-west gunfighter who could wield two navy colts with deadly accuracy continues the carnage. Folding ambidextrous skill into these combinations eventually produced a man who could fight equally well with two different weapons while utilizing one learned skill set that could function under stress much more efficiently than four or five learned skill sets trying to be integrated into one another.
So let’s talk about integrating ambidextrous training into your current routine. Please hear me when I say: This is a skill set that needs to be approached CAREFULLY and SLOWLY. I highly recommend first using TRAINING KNIVES and BLUE/RED GUNS to get comfortable with the drills.
The first thing you need to work on is the basic premise of being able to use your “off-hand” to do simple operations. Notice I did not say “weak” hand; nothing is “weak” unless you allow it to become that way. Start using your off -hand to pick things up around the house. Use it to open doors, turn on the water faucet, flush the commode, operate the TV remote, etc. You might also invest in a few low-cost simple hand strengthening and dexterity devices; these things work great and you can use them anytime. Not only will they increase the strength in your hand, your forearm muscles get a nice workout too. My favorite for working on hand and finger dexterity are the tried and true “Baoding (or Steel) Balls” ; used by martial artist for centuries, you will notice a change in strength and dexterity fairly quick;y. When you feel comfortable with your level of strength, move on to weapons training.
First thing to work on is Weapon Deployment. The possibility that your “fighting” hand could get wounded or incapacitated in some way is very likely, and if you cannot get the weapon into the fight, all else after that is a moot issue. Now when we say “weapon” I am talking about either a knife or sidearm. This could include a multitude of carry variations: With knives it could be a pocket clip folder, horizontal or vertical fixed blade, or even a neck knife. With sidearms, it could be an IWB or OWB holster, pocket pistol or ankle gun. In your drills, don’t focus so much on speed in the beginning. Some trainers emphasize speed WAY too early. All that accomplishes is the student getting frustrated before the real fun starts! Speed will come. Remember: SLOW IS SMOOTH AND SMOOTH IS FAST. Examine the most efficient way to draw the weapon and then refine that even more. Practice presenting the weapon from different positions: standing, sitting, laying down, etc. Some techniques work great while standing, but sit or lay down and it poops the bed fast, and you never know out on the street what position you may be in! Also, don’t become fixated on conventional methods of presenting the weapon, as long as it is SAFE and EFFICIENT, that is all that matters.
Next, we need to work on USING the weapon. With Knives, It is a very precarious and dangerous affair to draw a knife with intent to kill to begin with, but adding to this the added “hassle” of having only one serviceable hand, and the odds start getting nefariously bad for you! Just know beforehand that knives require much more intensive training than sidearms, so tread carefully! How you employ the weapon with your non-fighting hand is going to heavily depend on your Fighting Style and the Situation at Hand. For Combative disciples, a gross motor stabbing motion utilizing a reverse grip “jab” is going to the quickest. For you Filipino Style/ Pikiti-Tersia students think of Keating’s “Pala-Soot” technique in Drawpoint Vol. 1 DVD. Remember, we are talking about getting a weapon into the fight as fast as possible and doing as much damage as possible, we are not “dueling” or “knife fighting”; we are simply trying to survive and go home!!
With sidearms, your odds of success increase, but not by much. You have to remember as we have discussed, that most self-defense encounters on the street are at or around 10 feet. So Not having that “fending” hand is going to be a MAJOR handicap. Still, your odds are better having the ability to FIGHT EQUALLY with both hands than with just one. In my research and experience, most encounters do not start out this way, typically it occurs from an injury incurred during the fight.
Once you have perfected that awkward draw with your off-hand, you now need to fire the weapon safely (preferably at the bad guy). Of course, the situation at hand will dictate how you do that; you may have to fire more “gangster” style than you normally might like too, or you might have time to hold and fire it properly. Either way, you need to be aware of some snags that come from both firing a semi-auto pistol “unconventionally” and with your off-hand. For you Revolver guys out there, disregard this paragraph.
Beware of the Limp Wrist!
A friend of mine made me laugh and said this should be posted on a sign when you go anywhere in San Francisco!! Anyways, Some models of semi-auto pistols (mostly the lighter polymer framed ones) when fired with a weaker than normal grip on the weapon will malfunction, either with a stovepipe or worst with the dreaded double-feed. This can only be addressed by practice. As I said previously, you need to USE and EXERCISE that “off-hand” daily. Combine that with weekly shooting drills and that is the only way you will get Strength, Dexterity and Confidence. In your drills, focus on getting the web of your hand as high up on the grip as possible and maintaining constant pressure. Find that nice medium where you are not squeezing the crap out of it, but not limp wristing it either.
The One-Handed Continuum
Shooting one-handed as most of you know, is a required skill in the CO’s arsenal. It lends itself very well to movement Off-the-X and sighted and point shooting. Watch enough CCTV and dash-cam footage of street shootings and you can see very quickly why this is so. Fortunately, once the CO has enough strength and confidence, this same set of skills can be transferred to the off-hand and wha-la, another skill-set has been added to the CO’s toolbox.
Moving on from off-hand/ambidextrous drills that I described above, the next step would be the ability to wield two weapons (sidearms) at once. Although not widely discussed or practiced in the traditional American firearms training culture, this is a skill that our “Shootist” forefathers, more especially the 19th century gunslingers, like Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickock and John Wesley Harding, used with deadly precision.
I can see a lot of you out there with puzzled looks, wondering where in the world a skill-set like this would be useful. Let me be clear, I am not advocating you start carrying two-guns concealed or openly, but I am suggesting learning to be adept with two sidearms at once for the sole reason alone it gives you twice the firepower in the event you might need it, perhaps in a survival type situation where you are outnumbered with multiple armed and aggressive adversaries.
Common sense is going have to guide you in how you approach your live fire drills. Again, I would urge you to use the 70% dry fire to 30% live fire ratio. Once your overall dexterity and strength is to the point you feel comfortable, you can increase your live fire percentage. Obviously, multiple targets at varying ranges would be the best drill to start out with, but don’t forget to add different shooting positions, malfunctions, reloads, etc.