This one is going to be broken down into 3 parts: Retention First, Disarms next, and Weapon Strikes last. Just too much material to cover in one blog.
To learn more at your own pace, I’ve included an entire section with 9 videos dedicated to Weapon Retention along with a 4-part Integrated Weapons Grappling series in the American Warrior Society. Click here to try out AWS free for 14-days!
I got a request for this post from Facebook, and thought I would share some insights I have gathered over the last few years of training and experimenting. I warn you, this subject is both controversial, and deep. This post or any blog post is likely to just skim the surface on a subject so complex, and important. Having said that, I hope this one adds offers some information you might use, and more importantly, it makes you think. First, I want to discuss the basic thought process I have, as well as some principles around the techniques I will cover in this article.
A fight is a fight. At the ranges where retention, disarms, and strikes will work we are at contact distance and this brings all of the other combative principles into play as well as the use of blunt striking objects and edged weapons. If you are a gun guy please get out of the mindset that your handgun (or rifle) will always solve the problem. Instead, consider combative techniques such as strikes, clinch work, weapon retention, disarms, weapon strikes and close-range shooting techniques as simple techniques that have to be trained and used in concert with another. The very best thing you can do to increase your effectiveness in a fight is to learn to flow from one technique to another as it is needed. This article will focus specifically on the subject line techniques (retention, disarms, and strikes), but don’t forget the principles. I didn’t invent these, but want to cover them before I give my thoughts on techniques:
- Principle One: Fitness rules. I train with a local group as much as I can, most of which are made up of the Tulsa P.D. defensive tactics instructors. They are all in really good shape, and VERY skilled. I work hard on my fitness as well. But guess what; we work two-minute rounds of lesser intensity than a real fight and after several rounds of training we are completely gassed. If you think for a second that being as strong and fit as you can will not be of good use, you are wrong.
- Principle Two: There are no magic equalizers. I know we all want to believe that the small frail person can defeat the larger strong one with secret martial arts techniques, but the reality is that there are weight classes in almost all combative sports for a reason. Now, this does not mean that if you are smaller and weaker than your opponent, that you can not prevail. It simply means that you need to pay attention to your own weaknesses and compensate by focusing on your strengths and technique.
- Principle Three: A good technique is one that works. I bring this up because I know there are those that will argue with any technique, as well as ask if what they do it valid. If I mention a technique here, I have tried it under as much pressure as possible in a training drill, and some of the techniques have been validated in a real-world situation. If you have something better, use it! I am not married to technique, and there are many ways to solve a particular problem.
Ok, now one to the core techniques discussed in this article. Let’s talk about weapon retention first. I am often asked about the best weapon retention technique (specifically handgun) and my response surprises people. I tell them that the best technique is to avoid getting their gun grabbed. Perplexed, they dig deeper. My answer of course is just to make them think, as there are specific techniques I teach once the gun is grabbed. But, as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Some wise prevention concepts:
- A hidden gun is much less likely to be grabbed than an exposed one. Now, I know some of you might not have an option (Law Enforcement, etc.), but armed civilians do. If you opt for carrying open, expect the exposed gun to be grabbed at in a fight. It is human nature. When you reach for your gun, if someone can see it I can almost guarantee that they will reach for it too, even if they are untrained. They know if you get the gun out you will likely use it against them!
- Someone can’t grab your gun if they can’t reach it. This is something that you might not have control 100% of the time, but oftentimes you do. Keep the proper distance from a possible threat. Make an effort to keep the distance, as well as a good position. A simple step to the rear and extension of a lead hand to build a wall of sorts between you and the attacker is extremely effective against protecting your gun against the possibility of a grab.
- A punch to the face executed at the right time might be MUCH more valuable than the best weapon retention technique. Once again, this ties into the previous bullet and keeps someone from actually being able to grab your gun. No one should be closing the distance any more than arm’s length to you anyway, so at that time (in most cases) you should be legally justified in using empty-handed force. If you believe someone is reaching for your gun or might actually find your concealed gun and try to take it away from you, you could articulate an even higher level of fear to the courts if you had to.
Okay, so what if someone gets through all of your barriers and does actually get their hand on the gun? What then? First, I hope you have paid attention to your gear. I spend the first hour or so briefing common carry gear such as the belt and holster and the attributes each should meet if they are used to carry a gun. If you have a junk belt or holster, you will find out when someone starts yanking on your gun. Please get a solid belt system and holster that is either inside the waistband, or has a retention device/function if at all possible. On to the technique:
Enter: The hand strip. This technique, different from the “weapon strip” which I will cover later is exactly as it sounds, a stripping of the hand…from the gun (where conversely, the weapon strip is the stripping of the weapon, from the hand). The technique is pretty simple, and surprisingly effective if you apply all the fundamentals properly. The small things make all the difference in doing most techniques right, so pay attention to the position of hand as described in the steps below.
- Step 1- Position your gun hand on the arm(s) that the person is using to grab your weapon
with and slide your hand down to the wrist so that the web of your hand meets the crook in the wrist (where the hand and wrist meet). The location of the hand where you should make contact with the web of your hand is important.
- Step 2- Apply pressure downward the moment you make contact with their arm, in an attempt to keep the gun in the holster (if it comes out, we would them move to another technique).
- Step 3- Increase downward pressure, pushing the hand downward and slightly forward. The best way to describe it (don’t be dirty-minded here folks) is to push the hand toward your groin. Also, DO NOT push the hand away from your body, keep it close to your body so the weapon is not pushed away from the body, which puts more
pressure on the holster and belt and sometimes causes the gun to flip outside the waistband if you are wearing a IWB holster. If you are applying pressure to the right spot on the wrist tendon the technique will work much better! You can also use an aggressive turning motion of your body to increase the leverage on your attacker’s hand.
Lastly, don’t forget your other hand, it can, of course, be used to punch, slap, eye gouge, access another weapon or knife (if you have one). Use it however you can to increase the effectiveness of the technique!
Until Then – Train Hard!