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I’ve been hanging out with TTAG writer Jon Wayne Taylor. Let me tell you, it’s a trip. Driving to the airport with my 11-year-old daughter in the back of the car, Mr. Taylor held forth on the aftermath of motorcycle accidents (“what hits the ground stays on the ground”), acceptable firearms reliability (yesterday’s question of the day) and the relative unimportance of the survival instinct in a gunfight. Huh? “You know that sheepdog post you put up?” Jon asked. “Yes,” I replied sheepishly, remembering my semi…OK unsuccessful struggle for coherence. “You know that bit you wrote about three armed guys entering the restaurant . . .

“You said you should act like a sheep. Do what you’re told. Wait for a chance to counterattack.”

Before I could defend the concept in song (“you got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em”), Jonathan presented an alternative view.

“My goal would be to immediately destroy the bad guys.”

“No matter what happened to you? Even if you weren’t likely to take them all out?”

“No matter what,” he replied with the kind of certainty that must have kept members of the Taliban awake at night. “You seem to think survival is the most important thing. It isn’t.”

“I’m a single father without a safety net,” I said. “My daughter needs me. When she’s older, it might be a different story.”

[Notice the word “might.” When you’re talking to someone who’s survived numerous life-or-death armed conflicts – and you haven’t – it’s best to offer any opinions about your response to a lethal threat as nothing more than a theoretic construct.]

“She’s 11,” Jonathan pointed out. “She’s all set.”

This led to a conversation about the Jesuit’s motto (“Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man”), Spartan training for prepubescent boys (something gruesome about their 10 percent washout/death rate) and Jon’s two-week childhood “camping” expeditions (where he was left to fend for himself in the woods, without any camping gear, at the age of eight, and enjoyed every minute).

Not to put too fine a point on it, the conversation left me feeling like a pussy (as I often do around Jon), even though he constantly reminds me that his advice may not apply to anyone but himself. There was one thing we agreed on, later, after my daughter was safe at home, after Jon floored my CLS 550 on the Capital of Texas Highway, as the traffic light turned yellow…when we were already ambling along at 100 miles per hour — hesitation kills.

“Identify the target, attack the target, reassess,” Jon advised. “Wash, rinse, repeat.”

I’m not sure one should engage every target regardless of the chances of success. But I’m completely down with the idea of going all in when you do engage. In the few [non-lethal] fights I’ve had, I’ve realized that ambition. And I’ve taught my girls to fight with all their might the instant someone tries to rape, injure or kidnap them (Heaven forfend).

It’s that moment of hesitation where you can lose it all. The woman in the video didn’t hesitate. When she attacked, she really went for it, charging the kidnapper with speed, surprise and violence of action.

Again, if you’re going to attack, attack as quickly and decisively and violently as possible. Does it work? I wouldn’t have Jon Wayne Taylor for a friend if it didn’t. We are friends, right? God I hope so. The alternative is too frightening to contemplate.

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  1. Yup, if it has tits, tires or transistors, you’re eventually going to have problems with it.

    And nice touch, that throwing like a girl business…

  2. I disagree with your assessment of the policewoman’s actions, Farago. She was setting homeslice up, not hesitating. There’s a much longer video I saw of this many years ago that proves my point.

  3. Heh. JonWayne sounds like the guy you want on your side, alright. Thanks for the posts, Jon. This one got me thinking about your background, and that led me to this TTAG article I missed.

    I agree with RF, I am going to be the guy prepared to get my family out, first.
    But once they are secure, if forced to fight, I would go full on, also.

    IMHO, I think its important to game and practice the legal definitions of deadly force, and when those are appropriate, and defendable, in court, as part of your scenario training and regular practice.

    Here is another reference from a SERE instructor and survival psychology expert- talking about the need to prepare and practice the steps you would take in an emergency-

    in an earlier comment I had mentioned that some people freeze in an emergency, but I didnt appreciate how many would- heres an article talking about it, and what to do:

  4. Great article, and thinking back to the other that JonWayne wrote,
    about being prepared for what you would do in a fight or flight situation, and practicing it, in advance;

    here is an interesting article, H/t Instapundit, with some good comments there, too

    about why, and how as many as 75% of people in emergencies freeze, if they dont.

  5. “Identify the target, attack the target, reassess,” Jon advised. “Wash, rinse, repeat.” Assuming that there is a target with lethal capacity and intent , those are words to live by. That’s more or less been my plan for the big “what if”. It’s funny when liberals and uninformed people(same thing right?) talk to me about stuff like that. Sorry to upset anyone’s perfect world but evil is everywhere and should be avoided if convenient , negotiated with if possible, and dispatched if the first two fail.

    • Action definitely beats reaction if the person who is reacting has no idea that they are under attack.

      It gets interesting when both parties are experienced and know that they are in combat. A favorite technique in martial arts sparring is to let your opponent make the first move and then counter strike. Anyone who makes the first move on me when sparring usually loses. On the one hand, I am reacting to their strike which means I should lose. However, I am fast enough to evade their initial strike and counter strike. And the initiator is usually committed to their initial strike and unable to react in time to the counter strike … which means my action (of reaction) does indeed beat their reaction to my reaction.

      In my martial arts sparring example above, I guess you could characterize my entire strategy (of letting my opponent initiate knowing that I will block/evade and counter strike) as my action which forces my opponent to react. Even though my opponent acted initially, it was all part of my plan of action.

      • What you describe as repeatedly sparring and choosing to strike second versus someone you know is not the same as being assaulted in a surprise attack with an unknown assailant(s).

        These 2 activities/events/examples are not comparable.

        One is voluntary and recreational, the other is not.

    • What’s the real world chances that RF’s daughter is going to be orphaned cause daddy got into a gunfight?

      Now what are the real world chances that father and daughter may not survive too many of those 100 mph rides in a Mercedes?

      I think RF may need to learn better threat assesments.

    • Were you there, in his (driving) shoes? Or were you just flapping your fingers like any other keyboard quarterback?

  6. Nice motto, like lots of others people have died by.

    Sometime hesitation kills, sometimes doing shit you haven’t thought through kills you (or gets you thrown in jail because you just opened fire unreasonably). Observation and analyzing a situation are important, but doing so up to the point you get executed is not. I guess that’s not as pithy, though.

  7. “Identify the target, attack the target, reassess,” Jon advised. “Wash, rinse, repeat.”
    I gotta say that I believe Jon is correct. I believe this video is a good example.

  8. This hearkens way back to Jeff Cooper’s Principles of Personal Defense – a short read but a good one. Jeff enumerated similar principles, in that when the balloon goes up, you strike with aggression, ferocity, and ruthlessness. Those concerns about using non-lethal force that some will voice? Forget it – your aim is to do the absolute most damage you can do, as quickly as possible, to stop the attack.

  9. Asian hostage negotiating team.
    Screw those long drawn out standoffs.
    Only a few shots fired. American cops would have fired at least 47 rds. From 7 different tacticool operators acting operationally.

  10. I reviewed the video again. That armed woman was actually extremely cunning. First of all, she is wise enough to move slowly into a good tactical position rather than rushing the attacker with the knife and hostage. Once in position, she tosses something onto the ground that the attacker apparently wants. She waits for the attacker to indicate interest in the object on the ground before she even begins to position her hand on her concealed handgun. Then she waits. When the attacker finally focuses his attention to the object on the ground — actually looking down and bending down to grab it — the armed woman draws her handgun, rushes the attacker, and shoots in one fast and basically fluid attack.

    Personally, I don’t see any flaws whatsoever in her method. I think she hit a home run.

    • agreed. she did a great job. she achieved complete tactical surprise and then executed violently when opportunity arose.

    • Agreed.

      I remember reading some commentary on historical naval battles and the “unknown quality” of successful Captains such as Cochran. The “unknown quality” could be said in part to be aggressiveness, but there is more.

      The discussion was about a ‘sixth sense’ of knowing WHEN to apply that needed bit of pressure in a battle. Said another way…waiting for the right time but not missing it.

      Interestingly, I heard a similar remark in a documentary about Alexander. That apparently was one of his qualities…not just having a good tactic, but knowing just the right ‘when’ to apply it.

      If I were a betting man and it mattered at all, I’d lay a good sum on that not being her first rodeo.

  11. That policewoman was awesome. She suckered the bad guy.

    Unintentional hesitation is bad. Intentional hesitation is a completely valid tactic, and its utility depends on specific circumstances.

    Having the “goal” of immediately destroying the bad guys is a fine goal, but having the means and opportunity are not a mere goal, they are prerequisites.

  12. The caption of the youtube video is all wrong for saying it’s Argentina police. The incident happened a couple of years ago in the city of Guangzhou, China. As you can hear the conversation in Chinese, not Spanish, in the video.

  13. Yay, let’s all take self defense advise from a reckless driver that puts his friend, friends daughter, and other drivers lives at risk.

    Me carrying a gun is not about stopping bad guys. It’s about protecting my family. I’m going to act in the best fashion for my family. If that means we escape out the back and call 911, so be it. If we are cornered, yes, I will fight until every last threat is neutralized or I am unconscious.

    But I will NOT act in a way that jeopardizes my life or my families unless it is the best option.

    I am not obligated, legally or morally, to help someone else who failed to take steps to safety themselves (like carry a gun) when danger strikes.

    • “I am not obligated, legally or morally, to help someone else”

      It could certainly be argued that helping the helpless is exactly moral behavior, no matter by what means they became helpless.

      adjective: moral

      concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human character.

      synonyms: virtuous, good, righteous, upright, upstanding, high-minded, principled, honorable, honest, just, noble, incorruptible, scrupulous, respectable, decent, clean-living, law-abiding

      holding or manifesting high principles for proper conduct.”

      {from Google}

      You choose to not help…that’s certainly your choice. But don’t hide behind some claim of moral superiority in that decision. That’s disingenuous at best.

      At worse, onc could certainly argue that leaving the defenseless to be victimized is dishonorable.

      • Ah, but he only said he wasn’t morally OBLIGATED. Sure, it might be a positive moral action to defend others, but it is not necessarily a moral obligation, in my opinion. In other words, it’s not IMMORAL to save yourself and your family only.

        Depending on your point of view, it could even be seen as immoral to endanger yourself unnecessarily, considering you have dependents and loved ones relying on you.

        • Fair enough; I can see the “obligation” distinction.

          However, food for thought: At what point do we all act solely on ‘obligation’ as you are describing does the social system itself suffer because of it?

          There’s no easy answer to that, and of course ONE answer is “individual trumps social system.’

          I’d say that the only real problem I see with that kind of answer is that we are too often trying to live with a foot in each room – we want all the benefits of the ‘social system,’ (for example, we don’t all grow 100% of our own food or make 100% of our own clothing), and yet seem rather willing to turn our backs on our neighbors.

          • you are a mass of conflicting impulses. what the hell does not growing your own food or making your own clothing have to do with whethernthere is a moral obligation to protect a stranger? if you purchase food and clothing, presumably both you and the seller are better off, otherwise there would be no trade at all.

      • Why is this person helpless? Minor, mental handicap, unconscious… sure there may be some obligation on my part to attempt reasonable intervention.

        Helpless because they CHOSE not to protect themselves with gun, taser, stun gun, pen gun, pepper spray, karate classes, or pocket knife? Do they “deserve” my intervention and risk of my life more than my family deserve to have me come home?


        • From a moral standpoint, it does not matter WHY they are helpless, their choice or not.

          Philosophical scenario: You are in a restaurant when bad guys break. The guy at the next table is not armed because 20 years ago, he committed a felony, did his 5 years and since has been an upstanding citizen and productive member of society. He’s still a prohibited person, and therefore, as a now law abiding citizen, does not carry a firearm for self defense.

          A.) Do you protect him? He made choices (at some point in his life) that impacted his ability to carry now, but has been a “team player” since.

          B.) How on earth will you, at that moment, know WHY someone in the restaurant is not carrying or what choices they made? There are many reasons people choose not to carry, or, in the case of my example, choose not to violate the law to carry.

          You are making a gross assumption regarding why someone is not carrying and hiding behind a perceived moral superiority in your position that simply is not objectively defensible.

          Again, it’s purely your choice whether to help someone else or not. But…state your choice and just stop there. Don’t try to rationalize it on some basis of “my way is morally superior” when it is not.

          Fundamentally, the reason you decision is not morally superior is because it can be legitimately argued that helping someone else, anyone else, is at least as morally correct as not helping them for any perceived flaw they possess.

        • “Do they “deserve” my intervention”

          Morality is not based on ‘deserving’ anything. Helping someone because it is “right” to help others regardless of deservedness is, by definition, moral.

          You are making a personal choice and claiming it as morally superior to the choices others make if those choices conflict with your own.

      • One has to have priorities and criteria for moral actions.

        If you really believe that everyone always has a moral obligation to save the helpless, why aren’t you on a plane to Africa to try to save the kidnapped girls being held by Boko Haram? Why havent you sold all your belongings and donated the proceeds to some Mongolian orphanage?

        • Ah, the “Why Haven’t You” horseshit reply.

          Nice try.

          To help you out…I never made a claim about MY morality and how I would act one way or another…so, you are attacking a straw man that was never brought up.

          • why don’t you just address the comment. what are you afraid of? the fact that your intellectual in incoherence will be revealed?

    • Jeremy, I agree totally. A person does not have the power or obligation to try to right every wrong in the world, or to protect every helpless stranger.

      First you have to try to right the wrongs and protect the people in your own family and circle of friends. After that, it becomes situational. I might intervene to help a stranger depending on circumstances, but i won’t sacrifice my family’s future for a stranger.

  14. The mysterious intangible something that keeps being alluded to – in chess, it’s called ‘tempo’ as in having the tempo; marching it’s being in step; surfing it’s catching the wave. It’s a difficult thing to ‘master’ since awareness counts more than anything else. Practice – even sparring – can help teach recognizing the moment, or whether you’re in step; practice can also help you learn to change the tempo. I suspect getting off a shot (as the lady in the video did) unexpectedly changes everything. Speed. Surprise. Violence of action. Aren’t all. these lessons teaching the same thing?

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