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Roy Hill’s post on the Tueller Drill made an important point: you need a whole lot of time/distance to successfully draw your self-defense firearm against an oncoming attacker. So much so that you would be well advised NOT to go for your gun in many circumstances. You could get caught mid-draw. And die. And that’s at the hands of someone who has no clue how to conceal and then wield a knife, baseball bat or, quite simply, their fists. If you’re facing a skilled opponent who’s got the drop on you, you’ll need some basic open hand self-defense skills—if only to buy you enough time/distance to remove and bring your self-defense weapon to bear; be it a handgun on the streets or a shotgun in the home. How to choose the right instruction . . .

It’s pretty much the same concept that applies to selecting an academic course. There are no boring subjects. Just boring teachers. It doesn’t really matter what type of [unarmed] self-defense instruction you receive, as long as you’ve got a good teacher. Ask around. Try a lesson. Clock the Sensei’s ‘tude. Then decide.

That said, before I take a class, I always tell a martial arts instructor that I have no desire to become an expert in their discipline. I want to learn simple self-defense techniques. [I also mention that I carry.] Once I’ve got a working knowledge of some effective moves, I’m gone.

In most cases, the instructor tells me to piss off. And rightly so. They’re unwilling to “half train” a newbie—in case the student gets the crazy idea that they’re some sort of proto-ninja. In some cases, I’ve received private instruction. Which works out cheaper, in the long run.

I’m sure our Armed Intelligentsia have some recommendations for the type of self-defense techniques they prefer. Meanwhile, I’m a big fan of the Israeli method known as Krav Maga.

I know: that’s like saying I like Chinese food. There are many different variations on Krav Maga. Some good. Some . . . not so good. [The above video’s emphasis on “getting in shape” is more than slightly worrying for us OWFGs. And that lightning-fast gun grab depends entirely on proximity.] You pay’s your money . . .

You takes your chances. Chances are that you will not have time to fully deploy your firearm in a self-defense situation. You need to develop non-firearms based defense AND learn how to fire accurately under stress, from less-than-ideal positions. But that’s a story for another day . . .

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  1. LOVE, LOVE Krav Maga.

    Very similar to the L.I.N.E. I learned in the Marines. My instructors emphasize viciousness and survival, and concentrate on overall conditioning. Being able to take a hit as well as deliver one. By the time we start the skills portion of the class, we are already exhausted. Because in a worst case scenario, that is likely the state your body will be in if you ever need to use any hand to hand combat technique.

    Conditioning is critical. I have seen plenty of black belts or brown belts who can barely fit the gi around the gut. Muscle memory and know how are great. But if you can’t deliver a blow effectively because your own body fat gets in the way, or you get winded after your first voley of punches…your in trouble regardless.

  2. Something to keep in mind if things do descend into fisticuffs is to be mindful of the gun on your hip (or wherever you carry it). In my experience most fights end up on the ground, and while rolling around it’s entirely possible to lose control of your weapon.

  3. I’m too old and fat to run away or fight fair. But old age and treachery always prevails over youth and skill.

  4. The Tueller Drill assumes that you will spot your assailant and identify him as a deadly threat before he comes within bad breath range.

    In looking around at my training options, it seems a lot of what’s out there is based on the experiences that law enforcement has had with assailants and not “civilians” (Yes, I know, LEO’s aren’t military and therefore civilians as well…) like myself.

    A crook is going to want to escape and evade from a cop, so distance is his friend. Against someone like myself, he’s going to want to close that gap because I have something he wants, be it my wallet, car keys or family. In order to maximize his surprise and limit the time and response options, he’s going to want to get as close as he can to attack me, meaning even the Tueller Drill is most likely too great a distance for realistic self defense practice.

    Kinda sobering when you think about it.

    • Any self defense and conditioning is better then none. Interesting observation concerning self defense geared toward LEO’s vs Military, vs Civilian.

      Regardless, a good self defense course is going to teach you how to defend and attack against close quarters surprise assaults and common street brawling tactics. Again..I can’t stress enough how great Krav Maga is for this.

      Personally, I think that simply being prepared, avoiding conflict, and avoiding shady situations, is 90% of a good self defense plan.

      Don’t be “that” guy, at the street corner of Martin Luther King Blvd. at 1 o’clock in the AM, in any city, asking the local street hustler for directions to the bank so that you can make your companies large deposit.

  5. “Again..I can’t stress enough how great Krav Maga is for this.”

    For those who aren’t aware of its origins Krav Maga was developed in the 20th century by a people who, on any given day, stand a decidedly non-trivial chance of being attacked on the street in broad daylight by someone intent on murdering them.

    So yeah, it’s pretty good stuff.

  6. Another good article. Again, civilian encounters outside the home are typically at finger-tip distances. Most likely encounters are atms, parking garages, and at your car door. Grappling of some sort is likely.

    I agree that most training is based around police experience, which is usually because LEO’s are providing the CCW class in some form or another. If your area has a broad spectrum self defense class, it’s probably worth the money. I’ve had a couple and I believe they were invaluable.

  7. Even better than Krav Maga is the unique fight avoidance system known as “maintaining situational awareness.” This involves keeping one’s head on a swivel, crossing streets unexpectedly, keeping one’s head out of one’s a$$ unless one has a glass rectum that one can see through, and other stuff that requires no training, no trainers and no physical strength.

    Most people spend their lives in Condition White. Luckily, most people get away with it. Others, not so much. They snooze, they lose. Here’s a tip: don’t.

    • You can’t be on “red alert” 100% of the time because you become fatigued and will eventually get sloppy at just the wrong moment. The key is to undertand your locale, the potential threat and your exposure and then set your personal DEFCON. That is why warships don’t run around at General Quarters all the time even in a war zone. You look for indicators that tell you to up your alert level.

      • One cannot be in Condition Red at all times. That would be impossible, by definition. But when I’m out on the street, I do keep my head on a swivel, I do cross the street when least expected, and if I see something that looks even remotely sketchy, I avoid it. It’s actually very easy to do and more refreshing than tiring.

  8. The problem with maritial arts instructions is that they teach you and artform and not self defense. Self defense is about fighting dirty,no rules bite em where it hurts and forget about you manhood.

    In this vane here is some advice from a Karate instructor one of my friends told me about years ago:

    “…If you are here to learn how to fight then you are in the wrong place. If you want to learn how to fight I recommend you go to a biker bar and id the meanest badass in the place. Go spit in his beer. After you get out of the hospital repeat the process. Eventually you will either die or become the toughest SOB on the block…”

    Short of that method just remember instep, knee, groin, throat. Get there anyway you can.

    • “The problem with maritial arts instructions is that they teach you and artform and not self defense.”

      That’s not entirely true these days. Though there are still a large number of “black belt factories” that provide little more than a workout there are schools out there that teach actual defense. If it’s what you’re after you just have to look till you find one.

    • Most trainers teach Asian fighting forms as sports. The instructors are teaching a lifestyle and a means of improving fitness, discipline and focus. It’s really great, but kata won’t help in a street fight. Even the term “street fight” is a misnomer. Most people who are physically mugged are Pearl Harbored and don’t even know that they were knocked cold until they wake up on the street or in a hospital.

      Krav maga, BJJ, Sambo and Systema (and maybe other styles) are taught as self-defense or attack methodologies. But really, can anyone expect an old timer or a small woman to defend herself against a young, big, strong mugger using nothing but fists and feet? It might even piss him off even more.

      Fighting skills won’t make men equal. Sam Colt already did that.

    • Not true. There are several styles meant for street fighting. Krav Maga being the most well known, some Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, and Kung Fu San Soo (my art.)

      Do some research on San Soo.

  9. “I’m a big fan of the Israeli method known as Krav Maga.”
    Despite what most people think, Krav Maga isn’t Israeli. Jewish, yes, Israeli, no. It was developed by a Jewish boxer and wrestler in Bratislava. He developed a method of self defense for the average person, specifically for the Jewish quarter to protect itself from Nazi militias. He later emigrated to Israel and served under the IDF and taught his method there.
    As far as effective self defense, it is awesome. Perfect for those who lack the strength or time necessary to be proficient in other martial arts. It isn’t competitive, it isn’t graceful. But it is dirty, and it is effective.

    • +1

      I have never heard of it until this post but it sounds exactly like the way street toughs fought in the old days.

  10. Last year I took a pretty good point shooting class at Vermont Tactical. Instructor taught us some very basic, but apparently effective disarming and retention techniques. I wasn’t expecting him to cover those topics, but I’m glad it was included.

  11. Krav Maga is pretty cool and very effective. I prefer Defendu, it’s similar to KM but more violent and you can use anything near you as a weapon.

  12. The top video is BS. The victim holds out the keys in his right hand, then miraculously rotates 180 degrees and leads with the same hand. This is made possible only by the quick cut in the video at that moment (18 seconds) and the attacker obligingly standing there like a department store dummy.

  13. From “So I Married an Axe Murderer”:

    “You know, Scotland has its own martial arts. Yeah, it’s called F**k You. It’s mostly just head butting and then kicking people when they’re on the ground.”

  14. “Once I’ve got a working knowledge of some effective moves, I’m gone.”

    How is this any different than learning to shoot well enough to qualify, then never going back to the range? Any skill that’s not practiced will get rusty. Rusty tools tend to be unreliable and not very useful. Maybe you could negotiate a reduced fee to only come in once or twice a month and maintain your skills? Or get a buddy with similar skills and goals as a training buddy, so you can keep each other sharp?

    On another note, no matter what the school teaches, make sure they spar. And not Olympic style no-contact tag. Learning how to take a hit and keep moving isn’t something that comes naturally. Knowing you won’t freeze up, that you can keep going after getting hit hard enough to see stars, makes for some good peace of mind. Plus it lets you try your moves in a force-on-force situation where the other guy is trying to do his worst too.

    • Uh, I didn’t mean it like that. I have a gym buddy for further practice. Still . . . point taken.

      • Robert, I know hundreds of ways to get my butt whupped. Dave is correct, the time to find out if you can take a hit is in training. I have been hurt worse in freestyle than I ever was on the street. If a fight is life or death, choose life. If it is a choice of cake or death, take the cake.

    Since 1978, teaching the full spectrum of armed and unarmed close quarters combat to law enforcement, military and civilians using adaptive, intuitive, non-technique-based methods gleaned from tons of real experience plus forensic expertise. Yes, I’ve been affiliated with them for years, but I previously spent hard time practicing most of the other “reality self-defense” and martial arts methods out there, and I can tell you that’s insight and applicability to the real self-defense needs of civilians in the modern world are second to none.

  16. I’m a black belt in Tea-kown-do and have experience with grappling, stick fighting, and other top secret instant death moves. 🙂

    • I’ve got numchuck skills and bowhunting skills and computer hacking skills and I’m pretty good with a bo staff.

  17. I am 68 years old, 5’4, 140#, former Paratrooper, trained for 10 years one on one with an Okinawa martial arts instructor, started at age 28. Went from form to function. Make a long story short, always use any weapon first. First rule, be gone before trouble gets there. Second rule, if first fails, keep it simple. I still practice, but mostly hands and elbow moves now, the fancy stuff was exercise and flexibly training. If you do not have a firearm and the other guy does, getting close and inside is best bet, if he has a knife, distance is your friend, and a way out of Dodge is a plus. The only way you can be assured of winning is if it is the director yelling “cut”. (Top secret instant death moves)??

  18. In addition to HS wrestling and some kick-boxing, Playing College and club-side Rugby in the 80’s and early 90’s as a forward was an excellent self-defense enhancement sport. Combine hockey and American Football without pads and you have Rugby. There’s only one official on the field and 30 players; there was a lot of brawling usually going on in the scrum downs and mauls. You got used to blocking forearms to the face and knees to the thigh, as well as dishing out these punishments. You also figured out how to effectively cover your vitals if you fell down in a scrum and 200 lb + men raked your body with 3/4″ metal cleat studs. It’s a brutally fun sport, accented by women and beer after the match.

  19. Target Focus Training. It’s expensive, but it will change your world. It’s kind of a 2 day Master of Science in Applied Violence. It teaches you to use your greatest weapon, your brain, to quickly identify available targets and injure your assailant to the point of debilitation. Works for OFWG’s and women, too. It’s worth every penny.

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