Speed, surprise and violence of action! That’s TTAG’s corporate motto. It’s also damn fine advice for anyone who finds themselves in a self-defense situation, whether they’re armed (yay!) or not (boo!). But it behooves my ballistic brethren to remember that this discovery can be a matter of [what seems like] femtoseconds. That’s because . . .

bad guys use the same speed, surprise and violence of action strategy on their victims. The trick to avoid a sneak attack: situational awareness. The key to surviving: distance.

Guard it jealously. Keep it assiduously. And if you don’t have it, get it! The cop above should have retreated when he suspected something bad was going down. Don’t be a flat-foot. When bad things happen, move! Then think and act. That is all. [h/t Steve A]

28 Responses to Self-Defense Tip: Watch Out!

  1. Looks like a great use of force and Taser use. I’d like to wear a similar body camera – as long as it is mounted on a high quality pair of glasses / sunglasses. Or if I could unobtrusively attach it to any one of the 5 pairs of Oakley sunglass / eye protection I use for work. TTAG Monday morning quarterbacks and tactical experts could share all sorts of criticism – some useful and some not so much. I respect most commenters, but sometimes people say things that just make me shake my head. I suppose it might be the same for me.

    Also, I want a government database to store the data. I don’t want anything on my personal laptop because it could be exposed to the subpoena process. Then again, if I get in a use of force that’s bound to garner media attention (like me as a white guy fighting a black guy or female), then I may just record the recording with my cell phone. That way if the department “loses” my video which would exonerate me I’ll still have a copy for a rainy day. Hopefully it’ll never come to that, but I have to deal with a lot of racism as a white police officer in the LA area.

    I try to record as much as I can with my patrol vehicle video, but that isn’t always possible. Many of the chest-mounted cameras are useless. If someone so much as re-adjusts your uniform shirt it looks like you just ate a massive punch. Also, a weaver / isosceles stance with a pistol can obscure the sight line of the camera.

    And I probably would have shot that guy with the knife instead of used a Taser, but he did come up pretty darn fast. I don’t like being so close to doorways. They are the “fatal funnel,” and you need to either be completely inside a room with your back to a wall or outside the residence offset from the door. I say that not as a Monday morning QB but as someone who has approached residences, and has occasionally OC sprayed dogs instead of opening fire.

  2. I watched the video. I don’t know the context of this interaction so I am having a hard judging the way the deputy had or failed to maintain distance. If the deputy was there to inquire about something, then he failed to maintained a safe distance. If he was there to arrest the knife wielding man or someone reported that a rampage was happening in the home, then it was much more urgent for the deputy to “get in there” and do his job which required he give up his safe distance.

    I will say one thing. The deputy used his taser to get the knife wielding man on the deck — that was outstanding. The deputy then kneeled down behind the man with a firm grip on the man’s neck to maintain control of the man I imagine — that was also outstanding. However, the deputy was focused entirely on the man in his grasp in front of him and seemed to be totally oblivious to the additional occupants in the doorway immediately behind him. The deputy never once looked back into the home. In my opinion that was exceedingly dangerous because additional home occupants could have rushed him and the deputy would have never seen it coming.

    Caveat: I am NOT bashing law enforcement. I am merely pointing out our (that means everyone) tendency to focus exclusively on the threat in front of us and ignore — possibly to our peril — the environment all around us. Hence the terms “tunnel vision” and “situational awareness”.

    • Agreed on all points. That tunnel vision thing got my own father blindsided while responding to a strong armed robbery in progress. Focused on the assailant at the counter threatening the clerk, he was set upon & wrestled to the ground by 2 additional perps, while the third wrenched his S&W .357 magnum away and shot him with it.

      Thankfully, this was in the mid 70’s (no HP allowed for carry at the department back then), because it missed his right atrium (heart) by a mere .74″ No vests were issued back then either.

      I was only 4 1/2, but it’s a lesson I carry with me to this day, and further, a day that remains burned in my memory in minute detail.

      As to the original story: Yer, that’s why I specialize in extreme close quarters h2h styles as well. My preference is to counter punching arts, & ground work to round out the repertoire. Choose the right one of the former, and it’s very difficult for nearly any human to get one in, even if the attack is by surprise when one has good situational awareness. Correct reaction, and most importantly speed, is a great advantage to have on your side. It’s also helpful to train in styles that have some focus against groups of combatants imo.

      I favor internal systems, because as one ages & the body breaks down you can still maintain your effectiveness vs. external styles that rely on strength alone. Strength that you won’t have in the same measure, at age 50 or older.

    • Maybe I misunderstood the tactic, but I thought his partner, the one filming the encounter, was responsible for scanning for peripheral and/or follow up attackers, leaving the primary to deal with the immediate threat?

  3. This post prompts me to offer a thought that has crossed-my-mind. An attack will occur either with:
    – no warning whatsoever;
    – short-warning;
    – ample warning.

    The Knock-out “Game” is an example of no warning whatsoever.
    The video looks like an example of short-warning; the officer had a second or two to sense that he was about to be attacked;
    “Interview” situations exemplify the ample warning. A thug exhibits suspicious behavior noticeable at least 10 seconds before he launches an attack (or decides you aren’t a good prospective victim).

    A self-defense aware prospective victim has little prospect of an effective response to an attack of no warning whatsoever. The only viable strategy is to avoid the attack before it would have occurred. Do not enter into a venue where there is any hint of “stupid people” or any people “playing stupid games” or at any “stupid time” when one should never be outside defensive space (home/office/car). Any one of these possibilities is a sufficient reason to avoid the opportunity to become vulnerable.

    Here, I’m assuming that my audience (prospective victim) is NOT a SEAL/RANGER/etc. Such well trained and well practiced people can realistically train for tactics under any scenario. Those of us who are NOT professional fighters have to be realistic about the investment we are prepared to direct toward self-defense training.

    Similarly, the short-warning attack affords little opportunity to recognize the imminent threat, choose the applicable tactic and implement. A cop can practice the Tueller Drill to ensure that his draw-to-fire time from an OWB holster is as close as possible to the 1.5 second standard for a 7-yard sprint. We civilians – in the short-warning scenario – are more likely to have to complete draw-to-fire from an IWB or pocket holster from bad-breath distances. Again, the only viable strategy is to avoid the attack altogether.

    The ample-warning attack seems to be the ONLY one where the typical civilian has a realistic prospect of mentally preparing tactics and implementing them in the case of need. If one takes reasonable care to avoid stupid: people; places and times, then one should most likely face a threat under circumstances where there is ample warning of a potential threat.

    To illustrate, suppose one is leaving a mall at 8:00 PM. To have decided to leave at 9:00 PM would have been a stupid time when there are hardly any people around and one might have to walk a deserted parking lot. It should be comparatively reasonable to leave at 8:00 PM when there remain at least some people. Even so, the risk at 8:00 PM is higher than it would be between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM.

    An assailant is apt to hover between cars; you might see him, but not from any distance. This is an opportunity to be prepared. Make sure your arm (gun, pepper spray, etc.) is readily accessible while still remaining concealed. That might mean removing it from your IWB holster and putting it in your overcoat pocket. Keep your hand on your weapon so you don’t have to reach for it. In hot weather, you might have to have some “drape”; e.g., a woman might wrap a colorful scarf around her gun and hand as if she is carrying the scarf in her hand.

    Planing and training for such tactics puts the self-defender a couple of steps ahead of point zero on the recognition->decision->response timeline. Having one’s weapon in-hand also serves to focus the mind on remaining in Condition Yellow while in the elevated state of vulnerability; one is much more likely to notice the strange man standing between two cars along the path to her destination.

    Once the attacker’s “interview” is detected the prospective victim has an opportunity to notice, recognize the behaviors as suspicious, consider alternative tactics (e.g., retreat) and moving into Condition Red: shouting a command; drawing; removing safety.

    It seems to me that we all naturally look to the best experts available to us for guidance: master at the dojo; Officer Friendly; a self-defense guru. This just makes sense. Unfortunately, the better the expert we find the more likely it is that he will train us to a level of “color-of-belt” much higher than we are willing to carry out. If we don’t train to the target level “black belt” then much of what we learn won’t suffice in any no-warning or short-warning scenario. If we don’t practice we won’t maintain whatever level – say “yellow-belt” that we actually achieved.

    The training we seek – and for teachers, the training they offer – needs to be geared to each student’s respective aspirations. In the cases of most students, that seems to indicate:

    – stupid: people/game/time vulnerabilities; and,
    – consciousness of threat signs of an impending ample-warning scenario together with preparatory measures.

    Am I on the right track here?

    • I agree completely.

      Several days ago a person posted about a level of training and aptitude that is unrealistic for 99% of the population. I provided a similar response. Anyone can provide training for anything to anyone. However, in order to provide effective training and learning, there has to be some interplay between student and prospective trainer to decide on realistic training for that particular student. Once they decide what is realistic, they can optimize their training to that level.

      In the case of people who do not have the time, inclination, or physical ability to achieve (fill in the blank) color belt martial arts mastery, what you describe is much more effective. As we like to say, the only attack that you are guaranteed to survive is the one that never happens.

      • Thanks for your concurrence with my thinking.

        “[T]he only attack that you are guaranteed to survive is the one that never happens.” I’d like to offer a little different spin on this saw.

        This saying emphasizes my approach to no-warning-whatsoever or short-warning. Training for such attacks must be concentrated on avoiding stupid: people/places/games/times. The amateur self-defender must simply accept the risk of living with low-probability/high-consequence attacks that come with no- or short- warning.

        My difference in spin is as respects the ample-warning scenario. My GUESS is that a person who avoids stupid people/places/games/times will most likely experience exposure to circumstances where ample-warning is a reasonable expectation. E.g., crossing a mall parking lot at 8:00 PM.

        I characterize the “ample-warning” or “interview” scenario as an attack even if the perpetrator abandons his prospective victim. It’s hard to pin-point the instant on the time-line where the perpetrator decides to abandon the prospect. Moreover, it’s pointless to attempt to define any such point.

        The earliest possible moment might be when the perpetrator decides that his prospect is walking with determination and purpose; might not be an easy mark. The latest possible moment might be in the middle of the Tueller Drill sprint when he observes the muzzle of the prospect’s gun. In the latter case, the attack HAS happened.

        The key skills for the amateur to train for are:
        1. – how to recognize trouble before it can evolve into an attack; and,
        2. – how to prepare to execute a defense before and as an ample-warning attack might unfold.

    • “The Knock-out “Game” is an example of no warning whatsoever.”

      Detail quibble, but I’d disagree with this as written. The Knock-out ‘game’ hinges of the victim having zero SA, not the perps providing a true sneak attack with no warning. Knock-out ‘game’ attacks have been recorded showing victims in la-la land and not paying the first bit of attention to anything going on around them.

      No-warning attacks, true ambushes, exist and your larger point stands. I just don’t think the knock-out ‘game’ is the best example.

    • I’d submit that you’re on a pretty good track, with some minor details that I would have a slight disagreement with. Overall though, it’s a very reasonable outlook on your part.

      My quibbles would be concerning the time frame commitment for good hand to hand training. First, I have to profess I don’t hold much faith in “belt” achievements. A good example of this was a committed, but quite young in time at the school student, who thoroughly cleaned the clocks of a few black belts of various “degrees” at a tournament. This with only around 6 months of actual time training under his (pardon the pun) belt. I would say that it depends on how, and with what system you’re being trained.

      That being said, their is an exceedingly large amount of mediocre to just plain bad dojo’s, kung fu schools, et cetera out there. Whether super commercialized to the point of being ineffective because most “want to learn to fight”, but expect the training to be painless, or con artists who don’t know a thing, to make matters worse.

      I’ll also be the first to tell you, any effective advanced hand to hand training is going to hurt, a lot. And you’ll very likely carry aches & pains till the end of your days from some of the injuries, if you train at realistic levels. I sound like a walking bowl of Rice Crispy’s snap, crackling, & popping at age 43. You might laugh, but it’s an apt analogy. 🙂

      Not that I’m trying to dissuade you, bearing in mind, but just to prep for what lies ahead if you so choose. To that end, I’d firmly recommend finding a competent Ving Tsun Sifu (you may see it spelled Wing Chun, Americanized). Randy Williams, Moy Yat, and William Cheung are well regarded. Careful about what I said above, there’s a lot of just ok to bad “teachers” out there. However, 6 months to a year of dedicated or semi-dedicated training with a good school a few days a week will put you well in excess of most peoples skills with many additional years of training under their belts in other systems.

      I also recommend a good ground work routine, Jiu Jitsu, Chin Na & such are good places to start. You can never predict with any certainty what may happen in combat. Being well rounded & prepared for the “when” you end up on the ground is a common sensical solution, and never a bad idea.

      I’ll cut this short, before I write a book, lol. If you need any advice, feel free to ask. I’m always open to sharing knowledge.

      • Thank you for your concurrence with my train of thought.

        I used colored belts primarily as a metaphor for a broad spectrum of training whatever it might be. It might include such things as judo etc; or, it might be some training that has no notion of colored belts whatsoever.

        You have offered useful insights for anyone who takes his self-defense training pretty seriously. With enormous respect for anyone who wishes to take self-defense really seriously, it is precisely this level of ambition that I think does NOT apply to 95% of those whom we would like to invite into the community of people who want to contemplate self-defense.

        Can you imagine a new mother – concerned about her safety and that of her baby – contemplating a good solid 6 month curriculum? Any such discussion will simply discourage her and cause her to STOP any further thoughts of self-defense. Quite the opposite of what we should be trying to accomplish.

        Instead, we should be trying to think about a “First Steps Self-Defense” curriculum that might involve 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 hours. The student might discontinue at any point and still take-away something useful. A few might become interested in carrying on; e.g., I’ve racked-up about 100 hours of gun-related training (yet I still regard myself as a novice).

        • I appreciate your line of thinking, and it’s correct in some parts. I thought about this for a while before replying, and there really isn’t any way to without being direct, so bear with me if you please.

          Actually, from my findings in real world application are indicative of around 92-93% wouldn’t stick with it, even with a rather light schedule. For those, even a 20 hour collective course isn’t practical from their limited point of view. Have I trained young mothers/fathers/grandparents/professionals/etc with heavy schedules outside of the scope of? Yes, and those that had the will, found a path that allowed them to do so. It all comes down to that.

          On the other hand, when I recommended the time frame, that was with short sessions with the hope that they would be motivated enough to practice technique on their own outside of the school environment. I might suggest, if they won’t take their protection of self, loved ones, or friends, with enough seriousness to realize that a greater minimum of time & effort will be required… There’s nothing you, I, or anyone else can do to persuade them. As such, pursuing a person with that type of mindset is a fruitless venture, similar to trying to convince the evangelical anti, the error of their ways.

          Is it in my overview, a practical suggestion that a 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 hour bit of instruction enough? No, you can’t even begin to break the ingrained bad habits in that sort of time frame, nor teach them proper form/application. To a more critical point, a decent level of realistic hands on (required for sensitivity & toughening), wouldn’t even be applicable at that point in training cycles. At 20 hours you might at best expect the average person to have an inkling of an idea of what is going on, but not understand it, nor be able to effect a real world meaningful (useful?) change.

          In 5 – 10 hours a week, over the spread of 1/2 to 1 full year, with a bit of effort on their own outside of the school environment? Yes, that frame I can work within with respect to instilling the rudimentary framework, and they will see genuine benefit. Not just a faux sense of security, & just enough to get them into situations that they won’t have the skill & ability to extricate themselves from. Much less, and they will be not a help, but a hindrance, if not an outright danger to themselves.

          In the end, the decision is something you/they either have to be willing to commit to in some measure. Or accept that in certain specific circumstances (and this is always going to be true in part, in the real world), the ability to defend oneself may be outside of the scope of ones training, and willingly accept the result of their own decision. Compromise, in fact, begets the consequences of the compromise.

          Learning to pick your battles at the time and place of your choosing, in favor of those that play to your strengths and the others weakness is the ultimate goal. If of course, you have that option. A broad, well rounded spectrum of training simply increases the options at your disposal.

          Tis’ better to have & not need, rather than to need, & not have.

        • Raven, you are very kind to respond in such detail and so thoughtfully.

          I recognize an unarticulated objective in our discussion that deserves to be called-out. The world I live in – and intend to remain in – is one that is very safe. I don’t indulge in stupid: people/places/games/times. So, statistically, I have a very very low probability of encountering a high-consequence event. And, I imagine that most people enjoy my idyllic lifestyle (however naive that projection is.) The world you live in is probably much closer to stupid: people/places/games/times. By illustration, perhaps many of your students are cops, security guards, bouncers who make their living confronting the ugly side of life.

          It is a reality that an OFWG like myself is apt to carry on with a fairly limited budget of time and money for self-defense training. It’s also a reality that a young person living in the inner-city is apt to regard a substantial investment in training to be very well worth-while. I’m focused on the former audience; you on the latter.

          A secondary – and unarticulated – objective is this. You are primarily interested in objectively achieving an level of competence in the student adequate to many contingencies in the real world. I am not so ambitious. I’m resigned to the fact that most people in the audience universe simply won’t make any such investment. Instead, I’m interested in the POLITICAL implications of popularizing a consciousness of self-defense.

          The overwhelming mass of voters wander through life unconscious of any idea of a duty to protect one’s self (and dependents). These will remain unsympathetic to our arguments for the RKBA. Such a mentality is firmly committed to out-sourcing defense to the police. I’m interested – primarily – in concious-ness-raising in the community of the uncommitted and GC-sympathetic voters. Get them to think about their modest need to take some active role in reducing the likelihood of an attack; or responding to some kinds of attacks. The audience-member may have a minuscule appetite for training; but, once the consciousness is open, such a person may empathize with the inner-city resident who will undertake more training and carry a gun.

          Once such a person has some conscious-ness and some empathy for the inner-city resident she is apt to stop voting for gun-control; some might start voting for gun-rights. Such a person may do no more than avoid stupid: people/places/games/times and carry a pepper-spray (which they won’t have trained to use). Even so, it is useful to society that such a person is no longer hostile to RKBA.

          You, personally, may have little interest in attempting to address such an audience. That’s fine. Nevertheless, I think you can appreciate the value in addressing such an audience. We both (all) ought to be interested in developing the market for training such that all are invited to the big tent of personal responsibility for defense of self. We ought to chart an accurate picture of the learning-curve and invite all comers to climb that curve until they have satisfied themselves that they have met their personal objectives however low . . . high they may be individually. We must avoid implying any unrealistic competence will be achieved in 4 or 8 or 12 . . . hours. The first part of the curriculum (for the audience I imagine) ought to be a survey of self-defense issues/answers and instruction in avoiding stupid: people/places/games/times. Next, the awareness states: white/yellow/red/black. Next, signs that should trigger shifting from yellow to red.

          An inner-city resident may know that he is far more ambitious and wants to sign-up for a course such as yours. He should probably skip the “survey” course and sign-up for your curriculum. Conversely, the OFWG audience should probably avoid your curriculum and – instead – begin with a “survey” course. If he decides to advance, that’s fine.

          Now, having clarified my underlying assumptions, I would be grateful for any insights you can offer that would be applicable to a “survey” type training.

  4. Heheh, a fellow Palemoon user. Down to nearly every single security addon as well. 😀 I’d only toss in a couple of small additions.

    – NoScript is something people will have to play around with & has a fairly steep learning curve if you don’t have a decent grasp of scripting to begin with

    – Adblock Edge: is another good fork of Adblock Plus (and better than ABP, as is the one Foo dog mentioned above)

    – Disconnect & Ghostery: You will want to disable the Ghost Ranking in Ghostery’s setup if you’re fond of the 4th amendment, & dislike even minimally intrusive data collection/mining (I used to recommend DoNotTrackMe, until they started getting intrusive themselves & switched the name to Blur)

    – Better Privacy: Kills all data mining persistent LSO cookies from the likes of Google, Facebook, Bing/M$ and others when you close your browser.

    – Self Destructing Cookies: Wipes out any other tracking cookies (except LSO’s) as soon as you close the tab.

    – Greasemonkey: So many indispensable browser tools I can’t even begin to list them here.

    – Alternate non-bloated Firefox derived browser (64 bit only): Waterfox Also recommended, although some portions of the web will not work in a pure x64 environment. Palemoon works everywhere, on the other hand.

    • Err, I guess my above post can be s-canned, since the persons post I replied to has went the way of the dodo.

      • Au contraire, Raven. I get the gist and have copy and pasted to my evernote for further investigation.

        Thanks

  5. Cop tried to do the right thing and almost got nailed because of it.

    Almost. But he didn’t. Kudos to the officer for keeping his head and for not shooting first and answering questions later.

    Which kind of makes the point that not all violence between suspect and police officer needs to end with a dead suspect. And I hope that the jackalope with the knife goes away for decades.

    • He did get nailed, right in the vest.
      He’s lucky it didn’t penetrate the vest, it looks slim and pointy enough to do the job.

  6. “Speed, surprise and violence of action! That’s TTAG’s corporate motto.”

    Those are our chief weapons! Also, fear! Our chief weapons are speed, surprise, fear, and violence of action! And ruthlessness! Four chief weapons! Oh, and a fanatical devotion to the Second Amendment! Five chief weapons, er, maybe we’ll go out and try this again, eh?

  7. I don’t know what led up to that, but I would have never let that guy get that close to me.

    I am not a “cop hater” like some folks on here, but you can tell this cop is a dipshit just by the way he looks and speaks. He immediately reminded me of one of the cops from the Mike Judge movie “Idiocracy”. These are the guys that think anyone who references the Constitution is a domestic terrorist.

  8. I-Kam X-treme. That’s the audio/visual glasses I use. It has clear or tinted removable lenses. One push of a button and in 5 seconds, it starts recording.

    It won’t help in a true ambush situation, but even a small heads up, it can be recording what really happened. No he said, she said.

    Don’be Zimmermaned.

  9. It appears the attacked slicked his fingers up pretty nicely, watch the videop and you can see the overhand strike with the blade up. Nice way to amputate a few fingers, seconds later the knife is in the other hand and the attacker is clenching his knife hand fist, from the wound of the Taser is anyone;s guess.

  10. The officer was very fortunate in two regards. First, the knife strike hit his vest and the vest was enough to stop the energy of the strike. Second, the taser was effective enough in delivering pain to the attacker to allow the officer to gain control of him. The deployment of the probes at such close range, practically contact range almost certainly meant neuro-muscular incapacitation was not achieved due to small probe spread. An attacker less susceptible to localized pain for whatever reason may have been able to continue attacking with additional knife strikes.

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