Ox here, with this week’s newsletter, brought to you by the “Fight To Your Gun” combatives program from Target Focus Training. Designed and proven by and for special operations personnel, it’s the ideal self-defense program for people who want to be able to effectively handle a younger, bigger, stronger, faster attacker…even without a gun, knife, or other external self-defense tool. To learn more, go >HERE<
I touched on this briefly yesterday, but I want to go into it in more depth today.
There are topics in gun training that become “hip” from time to time and enter the world of “pop” gun training culture.
Some of them make sense, some are solid performers, and some are just plain bad. Still others look great in training, but don’t play out so well at full speed or in real life.
Gun retention and fighting to your gun are two of these areas that have a lot of overlap and where there are a LOT of mixed training messages.
As an example, if your gun is in your hand and a bigger, stronger attacker grabs it, what do you do?
The popular gun training answer:
It’s widely taught that if someone grabs your gun, it shows intent to use lethal force. You need to know the laws and legal climate where you live, but let’s go with that for now.
Martial arts and defensive tactics instructors normally teach a version of either a twisting technique that exerts leverage on your attacker that exploits a weakness or frees the gun through pain compliance.
The other popular class of technique is a push/pull technique that uses your attacker’s mass and momentum against them and frees your gun.
Do they work? Yes. BUT, they are specialized skills that need to be practiced frequently and regularly for you to have any expectation of pulling them off successfully under stress.
Furthermore, both focus on the gun as being the main weapon, rather than the brain and central nervous system of your attacker being the weapon you need to fear.
Two things commonly happen in a fight for a gun that also need to be factored in to the equation:
First, the gun ends up going off…a LOT of the time. If your attacker has a grip on it when it goes off, it’s going to malfunction at this time and not go into battery. (“battery” is when the slide is forward, a round is chambered, and the weapon is ready to fire.)
Second, when the gun doesn’t go off, it’s very common for the gun to go out of battery and not return to battery. Sometimes, the mag release gets pressed and the mag falls to the ground too.
Both situations mean that once you get solo control of the gun, you’re holding an impact weapon and will probably going to need to AT LEAST reduce (fix) the malfunction before it will fire again. Not a game stopper…just something you need to be aware of.
So, let’s look at where we’re at at this point. If a round went off, it’s unlikely that it hit your bigger, stronger attacker. If it did hit them, there’s a good chance that it wasn’t a fight stopper. You’re standing arms length from someone who just tried to grab your gun and you’re probably holding a gun that’s in a non-firing state.
If you continue on the “the gun is the weapon” path of logic, you’d move backwards and laterally while trying to get your gun back in the fight. As you do this, your attacker will either run, surrender, or close distance to go for the gun again or start pummeling you.
In short, it’s not clean, it’s not pretty, and it’s not predictable…except that chaos and Murphy are pretty much guaranteed.
The Navy SEAL way:
Since the mid-late 80s, one of the techniques that the SEALs have been using in situations like this is to simply lean/fall/roll back and fire. In most cases, your arms will go to full extension, your attacker’s arms will go to full extension, the gun will point straight at your attacker somewhere around the mid-high chest area, and you’ll end up with a solid hit on target.
This works beautifully with a carbine (rifle) but since pistols are mediocre at best, there’s still a good chance that you’ll end up with a non-functional pistol and an attacker who is above you, holding the muzzle of your gun, and may have several seconds or minutes of fight left in them.
At this point, it’s time to go to empty hands combatives to free your pistol and/or finish the fight. As long as you know the odds, it’s an excellent gambit to play…but it’s not a 1-shot-miracle-stop with a pistol—it requires deliberate, calculated, purposeful followup. (I’ll get to this in a minute)
The Australian SAS way:
I was “playing” with a couple of Aus SAS guys last year and we were going over ways to handle this exact problem. Their solution is to carry a knife/dagger that is accessible, 1-handed, with the left hand, and use it to cut the bad guy off of your gun if he decides to grab it. This is a great, proven technique when you’re kitted out for battle, but doesn’t work for me on a daily basis.
You CAN change how you carry your knife so that you always draw and open it one-handed with your left hand and make this work, but I haven’t traveled that far down the rabbit hole.
The Ox way:
I get to play with a lot of the cool kids, but I’m no operator, and I’ve got no pedigree or “creds”, but, unlike Ricky Bobby, I AM a thinker.
I’ve upset literally dozens of firearms, DT (defensive tactics), and martial arts instructors with my approach, but whenever I am put into this situation and asked what I’d do, my answer is “Punch his throat…if he can’t breathe, it might distract him from fighting me for my gun for a second or two to get control of my gun and do whatever I need to do.”
And it doesn’t have to be a throat punch. It could be a heel stomp to the instep, an eye gouge, clapping the ear, or another strike that elicits a spinal/central nervous system response that interrupts your attacker’s OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) loop.
Regardless of which option is best, this approach is fundamentally different because it focuses on the BRAIN and central nervous system of your attacker being the “weapon” rather than seeing the gun as the weapon…which may or may not be able to fire projectiles by the time either of you “win” the battle for the gun.
Control your attackers OODA loop, and you control the fight.
If you’re not familiar with the OODA loop, here’s another way to look at it. If you punch someone in the throat, jam your finger in their eye, or clap your hand over their ear (rupturing their eardrum), you “short circuit” higher level thought and your attacker’s “primal” brain focuses 100% on the turmoil you just caused…it’s like hitting the reset button on a computer. Their brain will work at full speed again in a few seconds, but it’s not going to get much done in the meantime until it gets booted up again.
In the context of a fight for a gun, it means that their thought will go from getting control of your gun to protecting the part of their body that you just destroyed…even if just for a moment.
During this “reset” time, you can keep piling on strikes and/or get solo control of your gun, get it into battery, and use it (if necessary) to stop the fight or engage additional attackers.
The critical component of this is that if you and an attacker are fighting over your gun, the gun is not what you need to worry about—it’s your attacker’s brain’s intent and willingness to kill you that you need to worry about. Take out your attacker’s brain’s ability to focus on killing you and you eliminate the threat. You could have 20 guns and 20 knives within arms reach of both you and your attacker, but if your attacker doesn’t have the ability to use them, the guns and knives are not a threat to you.
The gun is simply a tool, and if your attacker is close enough to fight you for your gun, he’s close enough to use any number of tools to hurt/kill you besides your gun…including hands, elbows, etc.
Are the fancy push/pull and rotational gun retention/takeaway techniques invalid? Absolutely not. They work. They just work a LOT better if you punch your opponent in the throat or jam your thumb in his eye first.
And the best part is, the same tactic works for a lady with a purse or a man with something of value…punch an attacker in the throat and everything else you try afterwards will be more effective.
Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Share them by commenting below:
This next part is important.
I’d be lying and doing you a disservice if I said I came up with this approach. The majority of it came from Tim Larkin’s Target Focus Training.
It has it’s roots in the Chinese warrior martial art of Kung-Fu San Soo, was refined and enhanced during black-ops missions in Vietnam, further refined in the First Gulf War, and honed to a fine edge with law enforcement, military, and civilians in the 13+ years since the Global War On Terror began.
It was designed for Navy SEALs for situations where they’d been out in the field for weeks at a time, were dehydrated, tired, malnourished, probably dealing with injuries, carrying a full load, and encountering someone who was fresh and ready for a fight.
Ironically, this set of requirements make the system ideal for civilians and law enforcement facing younger, faster, stronger attackers with little or no notice.
To learn more about the TFT “Fight To Your Gun” system, which costs less than a single month at a typical Crossfit or Krav Maga gym, click >HERE<
(If you don’t get the “Ricky Bobby” comment, click >here< to see the video snippit from “Talledaga Nights.” It’s a tad inappropriate, it’ll be 2 minutes of your life that you never get back and you’ll probably be a tad bit dumber after watching it, but my wife and I love it and you WILL be entertained.)