Myths about Bringing a Knife to a Gunfight

Myths about Bringing a Knife to a Gunfight


If you carry a Handgun for Self-Defense you should dedicate a LARGE block of your monthly training to knife attacks.

They happen more frequently than you think and due to Hollyweird and Fantasy Gunfight Training most armed civilians and sadly a large percentage of law enforcement have no clue how to properly deal with them.

If you can still find them, check out Kelly McCann’s Combative Pistol/Knife and Dog Brothers Die Less Often DVD’s.

They are two of the most Practical/No bullshit pieces of training regarding how to “deal” with violent street knife attacks.




Prepare Accordingly and Train Realistically!

Blade Drills: Perfecting the Snap Cut & Thrust

From the archives. ūüĎć


SOG Snarl

SOG Snarl

Lately I have been working on some drills with my small “hideout” waist-carried fixed blades: Benchmade CBK and SOG Snarl.

Benchmade CBK

Benchmade CBK

Training Notes:

  • Since both of these shivs have an unconventional grip (CBK is a syringe type, the Snarl a single-finger loop, raptor-claw design), striking is a bit more unorthodox than if I were using a standard blade with a conventional type grip.

  • The upside to these blade types is that RETENTION is not as big an issue as a conventional knife. No matter if your hands get wet from water, sweat or blood, the way the blade is gripped ensures a SOLID purchase.

  • ¬†Since I mainly carry these blades horizontal on my waist at around 10:30 to 11:00,(drawing with my right hand) I designed all my drills for that type of draw.

  • As I subscribe to the COMBATIVE school of defensive knife training, almost all of these movements are based on simple GROSS MOTOR functions with very little fine motor technique involved. (No complicated katas, etc.) Therefore, to fully maximize the tactical advantage these types of knives offer (which is Size and Speed) You must work to make the draw AND the first initial cut or thrust¬†ONE FLUID, QUICK MOTION.

  • The key word in these drills is “SNAP”, so remember that as you drill. Your goal is to quickly SNAP the blade OUT and INTO the Attacker before they know what hit them. Visualize a viper striking it’s prey.

A quick word about TARGETING. I know a lot of quality knife instructors out there teach to target the attackers ability to (1) WIELD or HOLD a weapon (tendons and nerves in arms/hands, etc.) and (2) their ability for movement (muscles and nerves in legs).

I believe that if I am having to use a knife to defend myself, things have gone VERY bad, and it has gone WAY past simply disarming or disabling the individual trying to kill me.

Simply put, when I train to defend myself with a knife or firearm, I train to NEUTRALIZE my attacker, not to DISABLE or WOUND.

Since a FIREARM and a KNIFE are  both considered LETHAL WEAPONS, WE NEED TO USE THEM AS SUCH, and have no qualms or remorse about it. I can guarantee you your enemy will not!

That being said, with these types of knives (small fixed blades), I train to target everything VITAL in the human body. With the carotid arteries in the neck being the primary and the eyes being the secondary.

Again, this is not to say these are our ONLY targets, but the ones we need to have in mind.

Remember: We are FIGHTING FOR OUR LIFE, so ANY SOLID STRIKE you can make with the blade and hurt the attacker is a GOOD STRIKE.


To Slash or Stab? That is the Question….

I get asked this question a lot and I really don’t have a direct answer. I guess the easiest answer is:¬†USE WHATEVER THE ATTACKER “GIVES” YOU!

If he opens himself up to a slash, do that; If you can do more damage with a thrust, then do that. The COMBATIVE MENTALITY is really one of Flexibility and Opportunity. This is what separates it from the more technique laden Filipino and oriental knife styles.

Remember that COMBATIVES stresses GROSS MOTOR MOVEMENTS,¬†and whether you choose to slash or stab,as long as you put POWER behind it, both techniques can benefit.¬†More to the point, despite prolific urban myths, there is also the issue of the AMOUNT OF DAMAGE that can be obtained with BOTH a¬†THRUST¬†and a SLASH.¬†Contrary to popular belief, small blades (like the ones I am using, both well under 3 inches) can penetrate human flesh and do massive amounts of damage just like a big 4″ blade can. How? The short answer is FLESH COMPRESSION (Visit Don Rearic’s Site to Learn More)¬†Human flesh, like the material in most bed mattresses, compresses when pressure is applied. This allows a very small blade to do cut through and do serious damage, if the targeting is correct. Now, does this mean, as some online mall-ninja’s have claimed, that I can stab you in the heart or liver with a small 2″ blade? No, but armed with this knowledge, the CO can definitely make serious cuts and thrust if need be and that is a HUGE benefit to the CO who, because of the legal restrictions of his particular state, cannot carry a large fixed blade or folder!

A side note about these two blades I am using. The CBK, being a “Push Dagger” is much more suited by design for thrust (stabs) than cuts (slashing), while the Snarl can do both, but is really more well suited for slashing. Despite this, I still train for both types of attacks: THRUST and SLASH. I highly recommend you do the same and never “pigeonhole” a blade for only one type of attack. This mentality will keep you flexible and ready to adapt on your feet.

Equipment for Drills

I highly recommend you DO NOT use a partner in these drills, as the risk for injury is way too high. Instead, try the following:

  • Reduced Meat. Go to the “bargain” or “reduced price” section in your local supermarket meat department. Look for any cuts of meat that are thick, say at least an inch or two. Roast are great, but flank steak will work just as well. Take the meat and wrap it in seran plastic wrap and then cover it with some denim or an old shirt.

  • Gloves. Anytime I train or work with knives, I wear a pair of kevlar-cut proof gloves. These are the same gloves I use when skinning fish or game. We never intend to cut ourselves, but it happens. Smart training is about controlling the risk as much as possible, but still staying as realistic as possible at the same time. Now, will we be wearing kevlar gloves during a fight on the street? probably not, but then again, we won’t be wearing hearing protection when we have to use a gun on the street either; never excuse safety for realism guys, that is stupidity!

  • More Safety. I mentioned about not having any partners for this, but also before you start, make sure no unfortunate soul wanders into your “ZONE OF ATTACK” during your drills! This includes any curious children, wives, even pets. If you are like me, you get into your own “mental zone” during training and the rest of the world kind of fades away, make sure you prepare for this.



1. Back-Hand SNAP-CUT

This drill requires fluidity of motion in harmonizing your DRAW (Presentation) and the first¬†CUT together. The goal is to go straight from the sheath into the attackers flesh. For this particular drill, I visualize the attackers neck, and slashing the throat ear to ear. The draw stroke and strike come together as your elbow is coming from a 90 degree bend into a straight line to the target. Really strive to “snap” the strike through,¬†not just into the target.

2. Back-Hand SNAP-THRUST

Same ideal as above but with a thrust or stab. You will want to visualize your target area (carotid in neck) before you draw and then in one motion go from sheath to flesh. Also practice doing multiple strikes.

3. Over-Hand SNAP-CUT

Now this is where your draw and strike are going to have a moment of pause in between when you “LOAD”¬†for the strike as you slash forward. Again, visualize your target and cut through them, not just into them.

4. Over-Hand SNAP-THRUST

This is where targets of opportunity we talked about come into play. Don’t be afraid to mix up your target areas..if the neck is open to you, go for it, if the chest is open, go for it. Remember, with over-hand, you have more time to “RELOAD” your strike, so don’t hold back.

5. Combinations

Just like with boxing, once we have developed a certain punch, we need to join it with another punch to give it more lethality and flexibility. With the back-hand strikes, a cut then thrust, with the over-hand, a thrust with a follow-up cut. Use your imagination and find what works best for you. Keep in mind, you ALWAYS want to utilize SPEED and SURPRISE.

Final Thoughts:

  • Be prepared in ALL of these drills to find the best way to “reload” your strike in the event of a miss. Misses will happen, so plan for it.

  • Pay attention to your footwork, just like with empty-hand combative striking, using our body weight to give our strikes more force is just as relevant with knife work. Never fail to make ¬†your SNAP Cut or Thrust an EXPLOSIVE movement.

  • MOVE YOUR FEET! No fight happens in a vacuum, and despite what Hollywood shows us, nobody stands still in a lethal encounter. As I have discussed before the Combative Continuum allows us to use the same type of footwork, regardless of the weapon in our hand.

  • Remember the fluidity of the Combative Continuum. If you are carrying a handgun and a knife, there may be situations where the knife is used simply to gain distance on your attacker so you can draw your gun OR you may have to use combative striking to gain distance to draw either one. There are no set rules, so drill for them all.

Train Hard, Stay Aware, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!

Combative Knife Simplicity: A 3 Year Review

(Authors Note: I wrote this article 3 years ago, when I was in the middle of re-vamping and re-energizing my Combative training routine. I thought it would be beneficial to all my readers to review some of the principles contained and in the process take a hard look at the current state of your KNIFE training.)


In the quest for the CO to become a “Complete Warrior” where the skill sets they learn dovetail seamlessly into any weapon system they pick up, being comfortable killing with the knife has to be a priority. I want you to notice the wording I used there: “Killing with the Knife”, now for some of you “PC” (Politically Correct) disciples out there, this terminology may offend your delicate moral sensibilities and seem a bit extreme, so let me explain.

In a majority of fighting schools out there, regardless of the weapon system taught, you hear the term “fighting” as a suffix to most of them; ie, ¬†gunfighting, knife-fighting, stick-fighting, etc. I myself as a trainer have a problem with that choice of wording for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because it carries with it a “sporting implication”. A CO should never intend to “fight” anybody, if it has come to the point of defending yourself, your only goal is to END the problem. Secondly, it takes away from the seriousness of mortal combat. I don’t train my students to approach fighting for their lives as a sport or a game… if we have to use a weapon to defend ourselves we don’t need to “fart around” with that..we need to eliminate the threat before he or she kills us or our loved ones, not “wound” them, “spar” with them or make them “feel bad” for a while with mobility injuries. In terms of using a knife for self-defense, our goal should not be to seek to inflict a series of injuries that would hamper them from holding or wielding a weapon, but to simply stick that knife into them as quickly as possible, and as many times as possible, to cause as much damage as possible, thus ending their life and the threat they pose to us. Simple and direct.

Understand that we are talking about KILLING in the context of self-defense and for the singular reason of DEFENDING ourselves and/or our loved ones. This should never be taken out of context. The founding¬†CORE BELIEF¬†of HCS and what drives all of my teachings¬†centers on the¬†MORAL RESPONSIBILITY of the CO. Killing another human being is NEVER something to be taken lightly, but when a civilian is training to defend themselves in a lethal encounter, KILLING the enemy¬†has to be the goal, because the enemy has given you no other choice. Your goal has to be to STOP the attacker from continuing to harm you or your loved ones. Very often, this very important psychological “nomenclature” (the word: Killing) is left out of most self-defense combat training, and I feel that is an integral flaw. If you want to train realistically, KILLING has to become part of your vocabulary. Not only does it prepare the CO mentally, spiritually and morally for what he has to do, it drives his training to be efficient and lethal, regardless of the weapon system.

Consequently, the CO needs to understand beyond a shadow of a doubt that the introduction of a knife into a physical altercation constitutes Lethal Force in every state in the union. This means if a perpetrator pulls a knife on you, you have the right to defend yourself with equal (lethal) force. On the flip side of this, if the CO (YOU) pulls a knife on another person, you must have the same justifiable reasoning that lethal force is quantified and/or warranted. There are a myriad of reasons for this legally and it is beyond the scope of this article to cover them all. A great resource to study for Texans is the Texas Penal Code and Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

I like to compare the Combative Knife Concept to the AK-47 Rifle. The design is simple. It has very few moving parts, which like anything mechanically reliable, such as a standard transmission in a vehicle, means it is easy to learn, easy to remember, easy to operate and easy to repair. It’s simplicity is sometimes mistaken for crudeness, and although it does not have the aesthetics of some of the more “technique laden” Eastern knife styles, what matters most is it gets the job done. What it lacks in technique, it makes up for in pure rugged reliability. To be successful with it, all you need is gross motor skills and Pure Aggression.

At it’s core, Combative Knife is about the Thrust (Gross Motor Skill). Getting the knife out of its sheath and into and out of your enemy as quickly as possible. The Essence of Combative Simplicity. Most all other types of knife training out there are based/rooted in the Eastern Filipino Combat Arts of Kali and Pekiti-Tersia, which mainly emphasize slashing versus thrusting attacks. This is not to say that slashing has no place in Combative Knife, it certainly does, but it is much LESS technique laden than the slashing “katas” associated with Filipino styles; most of them seeking to cut tendons and muscles that help wield and manipulate a weapon.

In Bob Kasper’s Outstanding Book “Sting of the Scorpion” (pp. 35),¬†William Fairbairn is quoted as saying it this way:

“When withdrawing, (presentation) get right into the THRUST. Don’t waste motion. Cover the shortest distance from the sheath to your target. Practice in front of a mirror, Get it down to a fraction of a second.”

In this short, simple statement, Fairbairn just laid out the essence of the Combative Continuum. You see, the Combative Continuum rest in the logic that regardless of the weapon used, in order to be efficient with it (or that it is to say, in order to be able to KILL Efficiently with it), you have to be fast, and in order to be fast, you have to eliminate un-needed movements during the presentation of the weapon. The shortest distance between two points? The straightest LINEAR line possible; whether we are talking about an empty hand strike or a knife strike. Striking along LINEAR Lines means there is no ARC to the movement; it is straight and ALWAYS follows the same path TO and FROM the target. Linear strikes are also harder to see and guard against than a “hooking” attack, which tends to telegraph your intentions to the enemy.

An empty hand and knife drill aptly named the “Snapper” Drill, focuses on mastering this skill.

When your enemy allows you to breach their “reactionary gap” by their mis-step or by your stealth, the CO as quickly as possible, SNAPS¬†any one of the following ¬†empty hand strikes: Axe-Hand to the Windpipe, Ranger Jab (web of hand between thumb and pointer-finger, into the windpipe), Face-Smash or Eye-Gouge OR¬†(If Lethal Force is Warranted) A Knife Thrust or (SNAP), whatever the situation calls for.

The CO also has to be aware that the situation might call for both an empty hand strike as a distractionary measure AND the Knife Snap-Thrust combined, depending on the situation and the adversary; be ready to do either or both with equal efficiency.

The CO also needs to learn that this SNAP Strike, either empty-hand or with a knife, needs to become a CONDITIONED REFLEX. Consider this quote by one of the forefathers of Combatives, Dr. Gordon E. Perrigard:

“The action is simple, but it must be fast, automatic and a conditioned reflex. When fighting fiercely for your life, you have not got much time to think, and the more AUTOMATIC MOVEMENTS you have prepared for your defense, the safer the result will be.”¬†

The bottom line here is don’t wait to formulate a plan when that thug is standing right on top of you; prepare and drill NOW for what you are going to do.

With the Knife, we drill on this with both a folder and a fixed blade, the fastest being a short and stout fixed blade (Blackhawk Crucible for example) or a Push Blade/Dagger, such as the Benchmade CBK or Cold Steel Safe-Keeper II both drawn out of a Horizontal Sheath at the 11 o’ clock. The goal is simple: Get the knife out of the sheath and in and out of the enemy’s body with a “snap thrust” (stab) in under 2 seconds. With speed as your ally, you avoid any counter-technique or block in addition to being able to deliver MULTIPLE strikes to the same area if needed.


The first thing to consider in this drill is Visualization of the Target.

This is not a foreign concept to most pistol/rifle/shotgun shooters, but definitely one to most people who consider themselves “knife” people. Visualizing exactly where you want to strike on the body is something that is not what you would call an “Exact Science”; every situation is going to be different and the student will have to decide which is the best “high percentage” target at that time.

Now I don’t want to get quagmired down in an anatomical debate on the “deadliest” place to strike with a knife on the human body (The Book Contemporary Knife Targeting by Chris Grosz and Mike Janich and¬†Arwrology¬†by Dr. Gordon E. Perrigard are excellent resources for this subject)

Suffice to say our aim is to either sever, puncture or destroy all together any arteries or organs causing our enemy either enough blood loss or shock to “Drop them and Stop them”.

Here is ¬†a quick run down if we are facing our target dead on at 12 o’ clock:


  • One or both of the carotid arteries running on either side of the neck

  • Either Lung

  • Heart

  • The Aorta Artery and/or all surrounding Pulmonary Arteries

  • Liver

  • Spleen

  • Either Kidney

  • Common Iliac Artery

  • Femoral Artery

The CO also needs to consider that for every combative knife technique he learns, he also needs to learn the COUNTER to that move to be completely prepared. Keep an eye out for articles covering this very important skill set!

Until then

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!

Carry 24/7 or Guess Right!!


For all of the unfortunate and violent stories of ¬†incident’s I have posted of CO’s fighting for their lives to help us LEARN and therefore¬†GROW as Civilian Operators, I think the above story can do the most good-by far. It touches on 4 skill sets that I have always felt are integral to staying realistically prepared in the violent world in which we live. Namely, 24/7 Armament, ECQ Fighting, Vehicle Combat and the “+1 Mentality”.

As you read this list, don’t just skim over the topics, take some time and reflect on each one and see how your CURRENT training and STATE OF READINESS¬†measures up.

1. The most obvious:   CARRY 24/7!!

If there is one thing I continually harp on to my students and friends, it is always to STAY ARMED! and when I say “ARMED” I am not just referring to your handgun. Remaining in a constant state of readiness (for the CO at least), entails having everything on your person, 24/7 you would need to survive a violent, and perhaps even prolonged attack or fight.

The short list would include:

  • Extra Magazine for primary
  • EDC pocket knife
  • small fixed blade
  • flashlight that doubles as a kubotan
  • cell phone
  • small trauma kit

I know this sounds like a lot of gear to tote around 24/7, but I have been doing it for a long time now, and I can tell you right now if you are careful in your gear selection, it is not a big deal. My first piece of advice would be to look at carrying things horizontally (like your mag and fixed blade) so your pockets can be free to clip your EDC and flashlight and carry your cell and trauma kit. I am a fan of carrying my fixed blade (typically a Benchmade CBK Push Dagger or Blackhawk Crucible) clipped horizontal at 11:00, this is a very natural position and I find it very fast to access.

2. Vehicle Combat¬†Training is not “specialty” training for the Civilian!

I always tell my students that your training needs to reflect your lifestyle. Most of split our time between home, work and the commute to get to both of them. The likelihood that a violent incident will occur at one or more of these places therefore is 33%; this story proves that probability is more than accurate. It makes sense then for the civilian to integrate vehicle combat drills into their everyday routine, not just something they touch on once in a while as a “specialty” skill set. I will be doing a series of articles to help you guys design some realistic drills, but in the meantime, when you start looking at designing your drills, don’t go “gung-ho joe” and just focus on scrapping inside the cab right off the bat! First look at PREVENTION measures that could get you “Off-the-X” rather than get you deeper into the “doo-doo”. Remember: there is no shame in retreating when your life is at stake! Remember also, you have a 2 ton, 4 wheeled weapon at your command..that trumps that little handgun on your hip everyday plus Sunday! If you spot danger, haul ass if possible! If that is not an option, then we need to look at using the vehicle as a weapon, if that is not an option, we need to address the threat BEFORE they can pin us in the vehicle cab, if at all possible, we do not want to fight inside a 6×6 ft box with empty hand or knives if possible..take my word on this (and from the guy in this story) IT SUCKS!!

3. ECQ Fighting is a street Reality

One of my favorite instructors favorite maxims was¬†“Well, in a PERFECT WORLD I might agree with you”.¬†Some of his best lectures started with that saying, including the one that shot down a fellow students belief in the much discussed “reactionary gap”. Most civilian combat training erroneously teaches ¬†that the “reactionary gap” is some kind of magic distance that will keep students safe if they abide by it. The problem with this teaching, is like most “fantasy gunfight training” it is not REALISTIC or PRACTICAL.¬†We live in a world where people get close to each other, not so close where it is uncomfortable, but definitely so close so they could hurt you. I mean come on, next time you go in the supermarket or bank, try to keep 21 feet between you and every other human being you come across…NOT GONNA HAPPEN.The above story illustrates the point perfectly: most criminals NEED TO GET CLOSE to do whatever it is they plan on doing, be that rob, rape, assault or kill you.¬†So that begs the question, “What is the best defense then?”. The best defense is two-fold; first is AWARENESS and second is LEARN TO FIGHT UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH EMPTY HAND, KNIFE AND GUN through Combatives training.¬†Does it suck? Yeah, read the above story! Will you get hurt in the process? The probability is very HIGH, but that is the reality of staying alive in today’s world.

4. The “+1” Mentality:¬†Predators always travel in packs

I know this a huge clich√©¬†in the training community, but this one actually holds water. Again, our above story verifies it. The guys injuries came from the dude he never saw..why? because in the stress of combat, you are focused on killing the dude in front of you..a friggin nuclear bomb could go off behind you and you most likely would keep on fighting the guy in front of you, because that is the threat YOU SEE AS MOST RELEVANT. Your mentality must always be “+1”, meaning, there is always the likelihood of being than 1 perp around, so look out for him. Second,¬†ALL OF YOUR DRILLS need to integrate some type of “scanning” the area, and not just post-incident either,¬†“Keeping your head on a swivel” means ALL THE TIME, not just after the threat is down or the fight is over.¬†If you can maintain that +1 mentality and drill on breaking that “hard focus” that comes when a fight begins, you are well on your way, but like everything, it ¬†takes repetition.

If there is a constant in the universe, it is this: No plan survives contact with the enemy.¬† I think the above story proves that. All we can do as responsible CO’s is to attempt to minimize every risk possible and stay prepared at all times, in every imaginable way possible. At the end of the day, any incident (ie attack on your life) that you walk away from is a good one, regardless of what you had to do to make that happen.

Stay Armed, Stay Alert and Stay Dangerous!

The Evolution of the “Ambi” Fighter

Contrast of two in C with two swords

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.


Advanced Drills

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.

Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!