At my Krav Maga classes I stress the simple fact that different techniques are effective at different distances. When you are better off engaging in hand-to-hand or knife combat? When should you use your gun or a stick to defend yourself?
To truly be able to protect yourself, you must understand the advantages and dangers of each weapon and how the distance from your opponent affects each weapon’s efficacy.
As this is a firearms website, I first want to stress the simple fact that you may not have the time or opportunity to draw your weapon. Attackers tend to ambush their victims. An assailant may be right on top of you before you know you’re being attacked.
Never draw on a drawn gun? Like that.
It is imperative that you do not rely solely on your firearm to save your life. Anyone who’s serious about self-defense should master some basic non-firearm close quarters combat techniques. I suggest Krav Maga, which doesn’t require years of training and extreme levels of fitness to be effective.
Fighting with your hands makes it easier to open and close fighting distances to dictate the course of an attack. However, your choice of position will usually depend on the size of your attacker.
If an attacker is significantly larger than you, you have two options to gain an advantage. “Run” to remove yourself from the threat or improve your positioning (enabling a ballistic defense). Or approach your attacker as close as possible to neutralize the power that the length of their limbs can generate.
Defending yourself against a knife threat is a similar concept to hand-to-hand defense, as a knife does not lend a significant amount of length to over-all reach of an attacker’s limbs.
That said, a lot depends on whether or not your encounter with a knife-wielding assailant posing a threat or a direct attack.
If you’re simply being threatened with a knife, analyze the situation to determine the most efficient way to neutralize or redirect the threat. This can mean engaging with the opponent aggressively to neutralize the threat, or employing a long distance counter attack (a gun is ideal) to improve your position and prepare for engagement.
If you’re being actively attacked with a knife, you won’t have the luxury of formulating a strategy. You will have to react quickly, effectively and aggressively. Many styles of self-defense recommend using the outside of an arm to block a knife, as it’s harder for your attacker to cut a blood vessel or artery.
Should you encounter a situation where you’re required to defend yourself against an opponent wielding a stick, bat, pipe or other blunt object, you need to find a way to quickly lessen the distance advantage that the object gives them.
The best way to do this: approach the situation just like you as if you’re defending yourself against a larger opponent. You need to close the distance as quickly as possible, neutralize the use of the object as a weapon, and then counterattack swiftly to prevent a further assault.
When it comes to defending yourself against an opponent with a firearm — when you find yourself unarmed, unable to escape the situation and/or unable to draw your weapon — your only possible self-defense solution requires that you get within arm’s reach of the weapon.
This means that a firearm defense will always be a close range defense.
How do you get closer? Some suggest that handing over your wallet (should that be the attacker’s intent) is the right moment to attack.
If you can reach the gun, first and foremost, you must redirect the gun’s line of fire away from yourself and any potential bystanders. (Remember that a bullet is able to go through non-re-enforced walls, cars and people.)
Once you have redirected the line of fire, similar to other defense techniques in Krav Maga, need to aggressively counter attack your assailant. In this case, you might even say in all cases, self-defense must be in the form of attack.
Some say you shouldn’t use the attacker’s weapon against them — except as a blunt force object. Again, while the natural reaction is to use your own gun, drawing from concealment requires time. Which requires distance. Chances are you won’t have the time or distance to draw.
Assuming you’re not facing a revolver, if you decide to shoot the assailant with his or her own gun, tap – rack – fire. There’s no guarantee that the firearm has a cartridge in the chamber.
When it comes to defending your person, you should remove yourself from the situation whenever possible. Should that option become impossible, pay attention to the weapon that your aggressor has chosen to determine the best distance — and thus strategy — for self-defense.