Monday, December 05, 2011

Thought Process

Was asked last night about techniques for gun disarms. Not my thing. I've trained them extensively, have a few I trust, but I've never done it for real. Even if I had, how many would it take to be sure? Too many.

But there is a thought process to working things through. Maybe valid, maybe not. It's the one I use.

Bad guy first. How and why would someone threaten you with a gun? Robbery? Intimidate you to a secondary crime scene for something that requires time and privacy? Each of those has very different needs, different geometries and intents.

Under what circumstances would it serves the threat's interest to threaten but not just kill? Does the fact that there isn't just a loud bang tell you something? Is that information you can use?

When and where would this happen? You can't predict perfectly, but sometimes I get the feeling that one of the most common types of armed robberies happen in convenience stores, across a counter. How many practice disarms across a counter? Is there a good technique for that? I can't think of one I'd trust.

There are distances that make a disarm completely impractical, and anyone who has been taught to hold a weapon at retention at certain ranges will be damnably difficult to disarm.

Which all adds up to, "How fricking narrow is the window of opportunity for this technique?"

Then re-examine the question. Because disarming is not the goal. Not getting shot is the goal. Whether that means getting to cover, disarming, creating distance or shutting down the brainstem (none of which are completely reliable) isn't dependent on what you are good at. They prioritize on which will be fastest.

Then, and only then, if disarms are the option, it has to be based on the geometry. That's just biomechanics and any martial artist who has played with another body should be able to see what has the best chance to work. Which motion works with the threat's joints (e.g. it is almost always easier to shove the weapon towards the threat than to pull it away from you). Which motion will get the barrel off your body fastest (I've seen and despised techniques where you pan your own face). That's just a matter of seeing.

Doing drills, almost anything works, provided you do it with full commitment and no telegraph. Action beats reaction very, very consistently. But if you haven't practiced untelegraphed explosive movement... not good.

And this is the part where I rant about technique. I don't like technique dependency. Whether it was the complicated, multi-step locks and handcuffings we were taught at the academy or simple disarms.... grrr.

Here's the thing. I can reliably make the very first action just like I want. Whether that is a drop step pass-parry or slapping a wrist doesn't matter. But people don't react or flinch or anything the same. Anyone who says, "If you do 'X' the threat will do 'Y'" hasn't fought people on meth. Calling a four-step move one action doesn't magically turn it into one. The first action, if you can do it explosively, will work. Everything after that depends on your adaptability. Which depends on your ability to apply principles.


Rob Lyman said...

As long as we're thinking in realistic terms, isn't part of the key to disarms having an idiot for an opponent? He's got to put the gun close enough to you that you can make a grab/slap/weave quick enough to avoid getting shot, and his body close enough to you that you can get get his arm under your control quickly.

So while a disarm is an impractical technique from your perspective as one trained in retention and use of force, and familiar with psychopaths who just kill without thought, it seems like anytime it might work physically, you're probably up against someone who isn't so trained, and doesn't really know what he's doing. So it might work.

I've never done it, either.

Rory said...

That's what I meant by the narrow window of opportunity, Rob. Maybe I write too terse?

Rob Lyman said...

Oh, I get it. I thought of that as a narrow physical/temporal window.

When we did box drills at the academy, we had one with the suited opponent right in front of us with a gun pointed at the chest. Every single one of us hopped off line and drew on him. I remember thinking to myself literally before I had the sim gun clear of the holster, "What are you doing, you idiot, you could have gone for a disarm but now you're too far away." So that was the "window" that occurred to me.

That thought replayed as I had 5 shots in a row of jams, meaning I was tap-racking while dancing in circles around the room and then had to reload. They gave me credit for "good movement."

Kasey said...

Train for what happens most and you'll be able to handle most of what happens.

Solid fundamentals

Understanding principles so well that you can adapt them to ever changing situations

Hmmm, makes sense to me

Kai Jones said...

How do you train against overconfidence? Isn't that the basic question?

Jake said...


Cool stuff. I think the outline of your thought process is more valuable than the specific question.

How and why would a bad guy attack this way? What circumstances would lead me to this moment?


"Train for what happens most and you'll be able to handle most of what happens.Train for what happens most and you'll be able to handle most of what happens" -- Can I quote you on that? I like it.

Kasey said...

Jake feel free
However, that is not a Kasey original. I'm sure I stole that quote from someone else

Unknown said...

I have seen that quote on Marc MacYoung's website as well.

Jake said...

Well, wherever it's from, I like it :-)

Brett said...

There is a lot of truth to what you're saying here. I used to train in Combat Hapkido which has many gun disarms in its arsenal. And I practiced the techniques

Part of me felt that I would rather have SOMETHING to use if I had to and the chance than to need something and have nothing.

And yet, the other part of me recognized that training endlessly in drills can build a false sense of security amongst even the most humble of martial artists. Which could turn what would have been an injury-free robbery into a nightmare. And for what? A few dollars in my wallet?

Training in "gun defense" will always be imperfect, dangerous, foolhardy, and flawed. Still, given the choice, I would rather have the knowledge than not.

Josh Kruschke said...

Relying on the bad guy and playing the odds is gambling with your life. Let's not forget that.