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Next Post uses the above video from a Mesquite, Texas armed robbery to make some points about self-defense. Their advice was not what I was expecting . . ,

Empty-handed skills are absolutely critical for self-defenders. First of all, more conflicts you will encounter as a self-defender will require empty-handed skills than will require firearms skills, simply because more self-defense encounters are physical than deadly. Second, since a firearm is a tool of last resort, self-defenders need to have non-lethal options that include empty-handed skills to protect themselves from likely incidents. Third, in the moment of the encounter you may not have the time to get to your gun before you can fight your way to it. This clerk absolutely needed to be able to fight in an enclosed space.

Huh, While there’s plenty of truth to that and their other advice (e.g., keep your gun on your person), this clerk was facing three armed robbers. Somehow I don’t think he was going to repel/survive the encounter with empty-handed skills. A promptly presented pistol – or better yet a shotgun – would have been extremely helpful in that regard.

And let’s face facts: most people are not going to train to the point where their non-firearms close-quarters combat skills will get them out of a situation where they face the threat of grievous bodily harm or death. A lot of people can’t due to age, size, infirmity or obesity.

As for “most” encounters with bad actors requiring less than lethal force, I’m not so sure. Sure, speed, surprise and violence of action is the way to go, whether you’re armed or not. But it’s better to be armed than not, and prepared to loose the ballistic dogs of war. Every time. Yes?

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  1. Seems to contradict himself at his popular Facebook “Females with Firearms” page,
    where Pastor John Correia writes:

    ‘Listen, I’m a martial artist, I have a teaching rank in a derivative of Kempo and I know that I am big enough that somebody who is 100lbs, I can bum rush you, I can get through your martial arts, pin you to the ground and beat you to death,’ he said.

    ‘I know I can, but you know what I can’t do? If you’ve got a firearm, I can’t get past that. That’s a force multiplying tool, especially if we have distance, so I think that’s why females especially should be taught self-defence, especially with the use of firearms, because they’re effective.’

    Maybe it depends on what he is trying to sell you.

  2. Exactly. Those were three very strong men up against one man with nowhere to run. I give him a lot of points for resisting.

    Next time he should have a 92FS in reach.

  3. Even if it were true it doesn’t make it suck less if you need a gun and not have one or have a gun and not know how to use it very well.

  4. Firearms really shine as a defensive tool when you can use distance to your advantage. Inside a certain physical range tunnel vision on grabbing your gun could really have a negative impact on survivability. If you don’t want to learn to fight, don’t, but be prepared and have the idea that you may have to gouge someone’s eyes, or bite their nose off to create distance. At arms length I would rather have a fixed blade edged weapon anyway.

    • You can’t draw a 45 but have room for a Claymore, Katana, saber? Or you’re going for your Leatherman/Swiss Army knife?

  5. The depravity of those animals…Cecil the lion has more right to live in my book. Sick the dentist on these guys.

  6. Stop compartmentalizing it… Extreme Savagery. Have some. It doesn’t matter if you point and click it, or swing, bite, slice, whatever. When a predator comes for you, make it wish it didn’t do that by whatever means. It’s not complicated.Drop the civility, fairness crap, rip, shread, pound, thrash,shoot, whatever you’ve got, unleash all hell however you can.

    • Dustin, agree totally! What ever you have to do to defend yourself, go all in. Some of us older folks are in no shape for hand to hand combat, Whether you choose pepper spray, knives or hand gun. It’s up to us to be proficent with whatever tool we choose!

  7. I take it more as empty-handed skills may be necessary, not JUST firearm skills. And they may be the only thing that allow you to access your firearm should you need it. Empty-handed skills may give you the vital seconds you need to draw if someone is within arms length.

    • Yeah, great – everyone needs a hobby. But dont waste time getting a gun first, cuz your knitting needles arent gonna be nearly as good, even after you practice making scarves with them for years…

      just about as useful as the high-kicking circular kungfu moves baloney that will last about 2 seconds vs a con with prison training in shiv work.. or when you go to ground against three puncks, and lets not even talk about when he pokes his illegal Nine in Yo Face across the counter at 7-11, or herds the sheep into the cooler in the back. Good luck with fancy moves there, grasshopper.

  8. As per the question, that is absolutely true. Unless you have a gun. Don’t twist the sucker’s wrist, or sucker punch his throat, SHOOT him. Then shoot each of his friends. After that, feel free to demonstrate your martial arts skills.

    • heh. yep. Your arm bar thumb lock move will be most useful hauling him out the door to expire in the gutter, where the various leaking bodily fluids will be easier for someone else to hose off later.

  9. Many people on this blog think that skill with a firearm is all they need for any and all self defense situations. That is wrong; naïve.

    There is no doubt that a large percentage of violent attacks occur within arm’s reach, and defending against those will always require some empty-handed skills, if only to deflect a blow from the attacker. Even the smallest or most infirm person can learn how to protect their head and face from a blow. You can’t fight back, if you get knocked unconscious before you can draw your gun. If you have ONLY firearms skills, then you are not going to be prepared to deal with a large percentage of violent attacks.

    Learn some empty-handed self-defense skills. It is better to have those skills and not need them, than to need them and not have them.

    • The point is that some people aren’t strong or healthy enough to fight hand-to-hand. And in the case above he did fight but the other guy was a lot bigger and stronger and had two friends helping.

      • you are better off using your natural instinctive moves- crouch and observe, id the threat, go the other way to concealment and cover, to open the distance and then, if you have to- and cant simply bug the fVck out to make the call with good intel to 9/11, to apply the critical moves you really need to spend time on, before you get fancy with the ninja baloney-

        a fast but reliable draw, two to center mass, one to the central computer-
        (another to the pelvis if you want to get fancy)- move again, and
        wax on wax off, for you karate kids…

        until the threat stops coming towards you, assess for other threats while moving again to cover to reload,

        and when its over, put your gun down in plain sight, away from you and get on your belly hands in sight, until the blues arrive so you dont get shot by mistake…

        that is plenty to practice at home and at the range, and maintain. Far more than most do anyway, and thinking the average citizen is gonna go to the dojo and do more is simply nonsense, unless you are selling the dojo

        • oh, yeah- and be repeating your already rehearsed ninja mantra-
          Officer, that is the bad guy, and those are the witnesses– who can tell you that I was afraid for my life, here is my license, and my CCW permit, there is my gun, please return it when you can-

          and now, I am feeling faint- my heart condition, so I’d like to go in the ambulance now please, may I?

          (and call your gun attorney on the way), and STFU.

  10. What I found from hand to hand fighting is that it is really easy to lose, even if you have some skill. Make a mistake and you can end up tapping out in training, or have broken limbs or other issues in real life. Guns are more effective. Even my Co worker who does a lot of BJJ training carries.

    • Exactly. There are no guarantees. Hulk hogan in the prime of his career could be made to whimper if three huge men attcked him in a confined space.

      Sure, I’ll never say hand-to-hand training is bad, but I recommend a gun to everyone for defense.

  11. Hmmm… Probably that’s right.

    I’m a peaceful dude, yet somehow a bare handful of people have succeeded in pushing me into the kind of corner where I’ve had to fight back. All of those situations could be considered self-defense. In none of them did I have a weapon.

    As it happened, I didn’t need one — but I’ve also never had to face someone who was armed or overwhelmingly bigger/stronger than me (being 6’2″, 270 lb might have something to do with it). Like Dustin said, my self-defense plans all revolve around vicious savagery. Avoid, defuse, retreat…until you can’t anymore. I figure anybody who’s asshole enough to force me to fight deserves every last bit of violence I can deliver; put my life or my family in danger, and I’ll hurt you until there’s no more hurting to be done.

    Some actual hand-to-hand training might be a good thing. So far I’ve done fine just using my size and anger to good effect; but you never know when you’ll meet somebody stronger/meaner or get caught by surprise, and I ain’t getting any younger.

  12. The older I get, the more I favor a ballistic solution to any encounter with a violent criminal. I still have one good foot, one good arm and one good lung but, I no longer entertain fantasies of being Chuck Norris.

  13. I can’t really tell what is happening in that video: it changes cameras too often.

    At any rate it is extremely valuable having a repertoire of a few potent strikes with your hands, forearms, elbows, knees, and feet. You may very well have to inflict two or three fast strikes to your attacker in order to create enough distance and time to draw a handgun.

  14. Even the highly trained certified to teach kenpo preacher himself would find it somewhat “challenging” to engage three armed attackers from behind the cash register at the 7-11, with his hand-to-hand mad skillz.

    This is horse puckey. Imagine a slightly older, out of shape busy office worker, or the slight framed younger person, male or female, or any elderly person, going hand to hand against one, much less three of the yout’s of Ferguson Fame… no matter HOW well trained in dark arts of hand-to-hand. They would be lucky to be on the ground, like Zimmerman, getting their head slammed into concrete, in a 1 v 1, never mind being kicked and beaten to death by a 2 or 3v1.

    The ONLY tool that levels that real world playing field is a gun. Period. End. Full Stop.

    yeah, you better get good at getting it out and into play. So what- you want to depend on your rape whistle, instead? your keychain sized itty bitty dried up pepper spray from the violence against progtards booth at the farmers market you got two years ago?

    Cut the cr@apola Preacher.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Even in my late 50s I could still kick some serious butt but now at 65 maybe not so much. I am slower, less flexible and probably weaker even though I spend a lot of time working out and lead a very active life. Even Ninjas get old. I agree that self defense is more than a shoot ’em up exercise but for us old guys and gals hand-to-hand is not a winning strategy for the aging body.

      I will go with “God made man but Sam Colt made them equal”

  15. I had an uncle that was a Jiujitsu instructor. The crazy lady that was stalking him’s crazy boyfriend came to the dojo with a gun when he was there by himself. Unfortunately the gun won.

    Being able to have hand to hand skills in a fight is about having options, and possibly buying time/distance to get to that firearm. It also has aspects of it that are common to a firearms based defensive situation. We the person are part of the concealed carry system. One would go out and buy the best gun, ammunition, sights, holsters etc. they can so why not invest some into the most important part of the system which is yourself.

    • The best self-defense advice I ever got from a serious martial arts master was from a visiting master, at the school I was training at the time – 25 years ago or so-

      as I recall this gentleman was something like second from the top – the top guy being the founder of tang soo do.

      He was dignified, but gracious in a very down to earth way, who simply said- if you think you are going to be confronted by someone who wants to fight you, to prove something or simply self-defense –

      …Is to run. There is no honor in hurting someone if you can avoid it.

  16. Everyone would benefit from what Massad Ayoob has to say about disparity of force. In a 3 on 1 fight the defender can shoot at least 2 of the attackers. Women, elderly and the infirm can shoot unarmed attackers who are men. And there are many other situations where the defender can employ a firearm to prevent death or grave bodily harm.

  17. Open hand, closed hand, whatever.
    China can drop a rock on your head from orbit, and Planned Parenthood is trying to clone you.
    Be prepared for anything. But always have a gun.

  18. Only if you speak with your hands. Then the open hand skill of wagging your weak handed index finger to signal get the f**k back is imporant. I prefer to use my words and a two handed grip, if at all possible.

    Seriously though, if the excrement has gotten real and you have an extremely determined attacker or someone has caught you off guard, shoving could be a life saver. As in learning/practicing shoving with your weak hand while drawing your weapon. Also a strong handed strike/shove followed by a quick draw. Maybe even considering thinking about striking with your defensive weapon for worst case scenarios where your quantity of ammo or firearm have failed you. Even though that’s not exactly an “empty” handed skill.

  19. Most likely true, but I’d bet most conflicts that require empty hand fighting would tend to be non life threatening. I could be wrong, though.

  20. Skill in combat requires lots of things.
    A weapon can give you stand off capability – personally I’d rather take down my opponent at a safe distance if I can. The closer the combat, the greater the chance of it sucking for both sides.
    But eveb without a weapon, the warrior mentality can manage… I had to chuckle over the recent news reports with terrorist on the train in France – the Marine mentioned grabbing the AK (description sounds like the other guy didn’t let go) and proceeding to “muzzle thump” the guy. If you or one of your peers didn’t experience this in basic training you missed a real treat – it’s not enough to ~have~ a weapon, you have to maintain control of it – one of my platoon mates got muzzle thumped by a drill sergeant while pulling guard duty.

    • Two GIS and their buddy certainly show that you need non gun self defense skills but I bet they wished they had an M-9 in their hands — just sayin.

  21. I am all in favor of empty hand skills, but reality intruded in the form of a heart attack at 58. I have the bulk ( think Tony Soprano ), I have the memory of the skills, but I no longer have the reflexes or the speed to use them.

  22. I have to agree with the best defense is hand to hand combat skills….Instead of wasting your time going to a gym take self defense classes instead. Way better workout and you learn something. I wish I could carry a gun everywhere/anywhere but thats just not possible.

  23. Ask any cop that’s fought over their firearm if empty hand skills are necessary. I don’t have a bone to pick against martial arts nor am I advocating anyone become a top tier ninja or some stupid thing. Learn to protect your jaw, head, to shove another back, jab someone away from you to make space so you CAN clear the holster and shoot the assailant. Not one time did the person say you should pick your fists over a gun. No, better to have all the tools in the toolbox. Even the elderly can learn to tuck the their chin and cradle their head with their arm as they go for the vital life saving tool: the gun. Ignorance of how conflict starts is going to put you behind the reactionary gap even more than the natural surprise of sudden violence. Bad guys don’t announce their bad guys and their intentions like the movies. They simply attack and fast!

    • THIS is what I was trying to say in my comment last night. We all need to be realistic about the types of violent conflicts we are likely to encounter. While you might have plenty of time and space to draw and aim your gun at an attacker who is several feet away, it is much more likely that your attacker will be very close to you when he starts attacking you.

      Most violent conflicts start in very close quarters – within arm’s reach. And even seasoned professionals are usually surprised when the attack begins. The difference is how quickly the professional starts reacting to defend himself.
      When a violent attack comes from just a couple feet away, you will need to protect yourself from the initial attack using empty-handed skills, because you won’t have the time to draw your gun yet. Deflect or dodge his punch at your face, or deflect his hand trying to stab you, etc. Then once you have survived his initial attacking move, you can use one hand to draw your gun.

      Neither empty-handed defense nor firearms defense alone are sufficient for the majority of violent conflicts. You need BOTH, because it is very likely that both will be required.

  24. Empty handed skills AND a gun is the best position. If it was one or the other a firearm is next. Third is having Empty handed skills alone.

  25. All well and good-have both. I used to be stupidly strong and agile. In my 60’s with various injuries(mainly disk/neck) not so much. Gun,knife,ax,pepper blaster,baseball bat,machete are all in reach as I type. Touch me and die…

  26. Something to remember, in a fight, alot of men tend to expect attempts to hit them in the groin. So instead, if you MUST go hand to hand, go for the knees. Knees are easy to break, painful and lames someone up real quick. I know, I broke mine and believe me, it hurts ALOT.

    Something else to consider is when you’re moving from car to store, etc, I keep my keys in my non-gun hand because my new keychain is a monkey fist with a 1″ steel ball on the end. It’s primary purpose in my mind is to momentarily stun someone if they get too close and I need to draw.

    It was amusing when I was taking Akido and Kung Fu to hear the kids talk about how this or that was the best way to take someone down, but they laughed at my preference of a .45. The Sensei agreed with me though.

  27. Things to keep in mind about martial arts techniques:

    Very few of them involve generating space between you and your opponent.

    They take constant practice to stay proficient (sound familar?).

    If done properly at full speed and force, many if them will result in maiming, life threatening injuries or even death. And in a real fight you aren’t going to pull punches.

    They suck if you have to handle more than one opponent.

    Size and speed count for a lot, frequently more than skill.

    I know all these things from years of involvement in multiple martial arts.

  28. A good bad example of the problem with assumptions.
    I’m 62 years old, muscular dystrophy has taken my muscles to the point that I can lift a mere 30 pounds. I’m unable to run, to walk more than 10-15 yards without assist, can stand still for 10 minutes tops before weakness has me sinking towards the floor. The article above may be appropriate for a certain subset of the people, and there is it’s error.
    I always carry a Glock 19 with 14 rounds of 9 mm. I warn people to stay away from me readily since I have no real physical combat skills. I show my holstered weapon readily, and try not to draw it if I am not going to fire it. That works for me. And a particular subset of people.

    • Where the hell do you hang around that you warn people? Sounds like you drifted into paranoid land buddy of a similar age…Yeah I’m still a big guy but no one gets a warning(maybe dogs)…

  29. The idea that you’ll need unarmed skills more than armed skills is probably recycled cop wisdom — which doesn’t apply to armed citizens, because the situations as well as the legal responsibilities to act are different.

    I’ve been teaching armed citizens for 24 years, and I’ve had a few dozen involved in incidents. Most of those ended with guns drawn but not fired. In two, students who were unarmed when attacked were slashed by knife-wielding assailants. One of those students was on the UT powerlifting team. His reaction to surviving the incident was to seek out firearms training, not unarmed training. A 2nd degree black belt who was also carrying pepper spray and a pistol used the OC to fend off two teenagers trying to mug her in a mall parking lot. A 1st degree black belt student shot and killed a home intruder who broke down his front door. Number of students who reported using unarmed skills to defend themselves in any incident over the past 24 years? One. That student used a grocery store shopping cart to pin his attacker against a nearby vehicle – a skill not taught or learned in an unarmed self defense class.

    Unarmed self defense training is useful, as is knife training and medical training – but the students I’ve had who have been most successful, with the least injury, all used guns.

  30. Ahem. First off, Mr. Farago, it would have been polite to at least tell me that you were posting my stuff in a critical light. That’s professional courtesy. Secondly, for all, I would STRONGLY recommend you actually read the original post, where lesson 4 is clearly and deliberately laid out:

    4. Keep your firearm on your person! Plenty of people keep a firearm stationed near them under the counter or on a desk, but in the moment of need you can’t ever be sure that you can get to it if it’s not on your person. Even if this clerk had a firearm in the store, it was useless to him. Keep your gun on you!

    Read More

    So, I am not at all saying not to have a firearm on you. Not one iota. But self-defense 101 says you’ve got to win the fight you’re in, not the fight you want to be in.

  31. Well, I’ve been in a few altercations in 15 years as a police officer, and I’ve used both hand to hand skills and weapons. I have some experience fighting hand to hand, but I’d rather use a weapon. Pepper spray can work well, and it can be completely ineffective. Tasers can work like a champ, but have their own set of challenges such as limited range, limited number of shots, and the inability to spark gap through heavy clothing set 2″ or more from skin contact. The ASP and side handle baton aren’t great weapons. The ASP can fold up under impact and the PR-24 is too light to hit very hard. A heavy-duty flashlight like a Streamlight SL-20 will bash windows (and other things) like a champ. It’s actually a pretty good impact weapon.

    There’s just no substitute for a quality handgun as a portable weapon, or a good long arm if you have access to one. If I was facing 3 big guys up close I’d want my Mossberg 930 SPX loaded with 00 buck, with spare 00 and slugs on the buttstock.


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