Monday, January 10, 2011

Damn Big Hole

SWAT teams were first formed about the time that a lot of people entering law enforcement had combat experience in Vietnam.  They had special training and experience and things were getting pretty violent in some parts of America.  It made sense to exploit the training.  But being a cop is not the same as being a soldier and there was about twenty years or more of adapting the military tools to the civilian environment.

CERTs (Corrections Emergency Response Teams) were relatively new when we started ours and you could see the same process.  Just as SWAT tried to adapt military tactics and technology, we were trying to adapt SWAT tactics and technology.  The environments are vastly different.  We actually sped our evolution up massively by using a few simple tools.  One was to really look at the problem: what were our goals, our environment, our likely,unlikely and possible scenarios?  Under what kind of conditions would we execute our missions?

Lawrence Kane and I are working on a book, an introduction to the force continuum as it applies to self-defense.  More principles-based than technique based.  Non-prescriptive.  The kind of stuff I like.

Deadly force has to cover weapons.  There are unarmed deadly force techniques but, realistically, there are damn few that work when they can be justified.  Long and short of it, in order to justify deadly force you have to be losing and overwhelmed.  So when you boil down the stuff that works to the stuff that might work when you are surprised, off balance, your structure is compromised and you might be concussed, the unarmed list gets considerably smaller.

Lawrence has been to a number of civilian shooting schools that teach self defense with a handgun, judicious deadly force, stuff like that.  I was trained as a tactical shooter for an entry team.  That's a pretty broad range of training, right?

No.  It's the same problem as converting military to SWAT to CERT.  The situations simply are not the same.  Range training, tactical ops, surviving a gunfight are all important pieces, but they are skipping the one piece that civilians most need for self-defense: How to turn it into a gunfight.

Who practices and has techniques for drawing when you are being battered, slammed into walls or lifted and tossed into a van?  Who has practiced shooting someone who is lying on top of you, punching or choking or stabbing without the bad guy recognizing the action?  And without shooting yourself?  Remember penetration, bone fragments, concussion wave and burns from your own muzzle blast...

Is this a damn big hole in current training?  Or is someone teaching this that has managed to stay off my radar?

Do I really have time to design yet another course?


Toby said...

"More principles-based than technique based. Non-prescriptive. The kind of stuff I like."


Avi and Prof. M have been working on some good ground and position of disadvantage firearm stuff,I'm not too sure how close they are too releasing it though? I'll check...

Anonymous said...

"Is this a damn big hole in current training? Or is someone teaching this that has managed to stay off my radar?"

There's a Dog Brothers DVD series out there that addresses some of that stuff


Phil P said...

Just finished a course by Southnarc that covers some of the things you described... such as trying to draw and shoot someone that is already on you and beating you about the head (simunitions). Not an easy task

Anonymous said...

Rory, given what you just said here about really looking at the problem and SWAT teams, what is your opinion on the use of SWAT for small raids like this?

And I apologize for linking to a political website - not interested in a drug war debate here, just on the strategic/tactical appropriateness, i.e. "creating violence where none existed before."

It reminds me of a scene on THE WIRE, where instead of busting into a guy's place, they broke his car window and grabbed him when he came outside.

Travis said...

I haven't worked with the program but do you know the FFKG ( )guy(s) up at Place to Shoot? Sounds like he(they?) are working on this problem and local to you.

Other people working on this issue that I know can be found here:

In a largely unrelated thought; it's been a particularly good batch of posts lately and a lot of food for thought, though I haven't been commenting lately (due to both time constraints being busy thinking about what was said).

Justthisguy said...

"One was to really look at the problem:.."

Dang, you are seeming very like Jerry Pournelle, there. His main speciality used to be operations research and analysis, which sought, to start with, to try and define the problem, exactly, before trying to solve it. You should read his blog every day, as do I and all smart people. Snork.

Jim said...

Good point, Rory. We cover a little bit of that in our basic academy -- but it's minimal, retention shooting stuff.

Now I've got some thinking and hunting to do!

Don said...

George at Mercop may have been doing some of this.

Tansau said...

W. Hock Hochheim's coursework covers a good bit of this ground: the continuum of use of force, the spectrum of Hand/Stick/Knife/Gun and the context of the encounter (standing/seated/kneeling/ground, lighting, weather, etc).

The first level of gun training is quick draw from multiple carry spots, multiple clothing contexts (winter, summer, formal, uniform), and different types of engagement: assault from all angles, drawing while grappling (including from ground), seated in a car, etc.

Practice, drills and scenarios use replicas, Airsoft and sometimes even rubber-band guns.

Ari said...

Rory, John's been doing this since the late '70's, at both a basic and advanced (Guided Chaos gunfighting) level. His courses have included "Bare Hands to Handguns" and "No Officer Down". This DVD contains part of the BH2HG curriculum. A big difference between John and everyone else out there that I know of is that he's actually fought in biting range with handguns (both his own and the other guy's) on a bunch of occassions. Not trying to "hawk" anything here but you asked the question.

Anonymous said...


i absolutely love your blog, and is one of 5 tabs i call every morning.

but if i may put this criticism:

when looking at real world situations you seem to be heavily biased towards ambush. while it may be that most sensible martial artists shoud have recognized a dangerous situation and removed themselves from it, so that any situation where they are physically defending themselves are in cases where they have NOT recognized it, there are also situations where a violence is occurring and simply as a good human being and citizen some form of intervention may be necessary. you typically look at the use of force, or the legitimate use of force in scenarios for the victim of violence. i would love to know your thoughts about what the by-stander/friend/relative should do as well.

here is an excellent documentary that explores this:

in my adult life the scenarios i have come closest to using any physical force, and now by extension, my training, is situations where i have felt i may need to intervene.

my lack of understanding - a lack of a game plan - or at least the lack of confirmation that what of it i have is sensible from experienced and wiser masters scares me quite a bit.

this includes, but is not limited to, the continuum of force. a lot of what i have read and heard from experienced hands such as yourself is directly applicable to intervention, but i still feel i am missing a single coherent picture.

the police are obviously trained at intervention, but i don't think their approach is going to be the same as a member of the public. i know i could not live with myself if i stood idly by, but i'd rather not have my head kicked in either - or at least i would like to mitigate that possibility as much as i can.

Tiff said...

Kind of a tangent, but when it was finally explained to me that the 6-shot patterns in shooting/LEO academies are a ghost from the days of carrying revolvers, I was a bit stunned. If a vast majority of officers carry (often assigned) semi-auto pistols, WHY are we still using the 6-shot patterns? My small hands could only ever handle a single-stack (7/8-round) magazine, and I found this irritating as hell. I wonder if that's why pistol manufacturers churn out double-stack magazines that hold 12 rounds (6x2).

Steve Perry said...

Tiff --

The six-shot patterns are still used in competitions and in training because not everybody uses a semi-auto pistol. There are still a lot of wheelguns around. Even though there are five- and seven-shooters, most of them are still six-shooters. When you design a shooting stage for IPSC or one of the other combat games, you design it so revolver shooters can be competitive, the so-called revolver-neutral stage.

Lot of folks around who still like the old six-for-sure notion ...

Anonymous said...

Is that a real question or intended to generate discussion? If it is real, where have you been, Rory? As stated Rich Daniel has been doing this in Portland for years. Don Gulla's Arrestling group in Washington with several groups in Clark County, and of course Craig Douglas (Southnarc described in Phil's post) has been to Portland at least five times. We are an affiliate group in Portland as well.

No need to design a new course. Just come train with someone who is already doing the work.

BTW, are you really considering a "use of force continuum" for civilians at the very time the federal government and police agencies across the nation are dumping them as unrealistic and unnecessary?


Rory said...

Thanks for the leads people. I hate re-inventing the wheel.
Kit- It's not exactly the force continuum as a decision making paradigm as realizing that most MA concentrate in one aspect of the continuum and because you have trained x doesn't mean you will get problem x. I find clear distinctions between dissuading people, holding them, breaking them and killing them. Different tactics, mindset and justifications.
Good to hear from you, BTW. How have you been?

Jake said...


You might also check out Rob Pincus's stuff. I'm not hyper familiar with it (I don't own, carry, or otherwise do much with guns), but it seems to cover the kind of stuff you're talking about.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but I think introducing a continuum in the traditional sense is a slippery slope:people tend to start thinking too much in that way,which is what happened with LE. Reasonableness covers all the other factors of dissuading to breaking to killing - but that will be so situationally and participant based that a continuum can't realistically cover it.

Its more difficult and wordy in training to get them to start thinking force articulation wise (the original intent of the continuum), from their particular perspective, but I think it can have benefits. People always want a a cut and dried answer - especially non-professionals with little direct experience - but getting them comfortable with trusting themselves is where I think we give them the best tools.

Pincus was at the Mid Atlantic Tactical - I don't think he does so much the CQC "guns and grappling" stuff but he does address most other close range/self defense shooting situations. I give him a ton of credit for jumping in with everyone else and training things like the vehicle evos (grappling over a sim gun inside a car) and showing his stuff. Lots of instructors in his position would never do that for fear of looking bad or not having an answer. He was game and good people.

Frankly (and I am biased) Craig Douglas has the best stuff out there on the multi-disciplinary realm. Search ECQC, Southnarc,and Shivworks on Youtube to see the kinds of things we are doing. There are a few instructors out there who have essentially ripped Craig's stuff off without any attribution (including a special magazine on newsstands right now devoted to one of these individuals), but Craig has been a real pioneer in this realm.

Kit Leblanc

Derek Simonds said...

I read your article today and also got an issue of Personal Defense Network in my email with an article that addresses most of what you talked about. I am not affiliated with them but wanted to include the link so you could see some of the discussion taking place around this topic. Thanks for a great blog it makes me think every time I read it.

Priest said...

The three folks I know of who're doing the training type stuff you're asking about are Marc Denny (DLO Series), Craig Douglas aka SouthNarc (CQC series,, and Gabe Suarez (, CRG, 0-5' Gunfighting, ACRG).

As an advanced heads up there's some "issues" between some members of Warriortalk (Gabe's forum) and TPI (Craig's forum). I personally will take whatever I can get from either side because I'm most interested in Martial Combatives, not Martial Politics.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to agree with a few others here. Southnarc has been doing and refining this for some years now with very good results.

I recently attended the PUC/ECQC 1 & 2 classes as was very impressed.

I believe he is in process of adding a Portland trip to the 2011 schedule.


Anonymous said...

October 26-28

Extreme Close Quarter Concepts (ECQC) with Craig Douglas in Olympia, WA.

Point of contact: Eric Davis