T Nation

Grappling for Self Defence


From the British Combat Association. An interesting discussion piece if nothing else.

Grappling in Self Defence


Grappling has a long and remarkable association with civilian self defence. There are manuals and illustrations depicting control and restraint methods being used against armed and unarmed attackers across Europe throughout the medieval and renaissance period. The British seemed to have changed from their own â??art of self defenceâ??, boxing, to Asian grappling arts at the end of the 19th century. By this time boxing had completely established itself as a respectable professional sport first and as a method for self defence second in the public consciousness. In 1898 E. Barton-Wright launched his own hybrid system of bartitsu with the emphasis on teaching combative application as opposed to sport. His writings make this distinction and he even felt the need to explain to his British readers that the rest of the world didnâ??t practice arts just for sport but also as an active means for self defence. He brought over Japanese ju jutsu instructors to teach at his short-lived academy and wrote illustrated articles on self defence techniques for civilians. Bartitsu imploded and Barton-Wright completely abandoned it within a few years, leaving ju jutsu as the one component of his school to endure as a means for self defence. Ju jutsu, which was often interchangeable with judo during the early part of the 20th century, found its way into western military programmes and even early womenâ??s self defence instructional films.

And yet grappling, by its nature, is less efficient than striking. This might be a little contentious to say in view of the high success rate grapplers have in match fights, but the striker creates distance. Escape is all about creating distance. In short, stun and run is a better policy for a normal civilian in a life-threatening situation than entangling oneâ??s self with an enemy. The grappling imported from Asia at the end of the 19th century and the grappling we see being depicted in 15th century Europe onwards is derived from battlefield training against enemies armed with blades. In many instances empty hand striking techniques would not have been advisable as adversaries were armoured. The purpose of the grappling appears to have been to use the techniques as the only resource available to prevent the armed person from using his close quarter weapons.

If targets are said to dictate weapons then objectives and context certainly dictate tactics. If you are involved in law enforcement, are an officer in some sort of institution, are involved in security or in any situation where your mandate is to control and restrain people then grappling should be your preferred tactic. However, when your life is on the line matters change. From a civilian perspective subduing an antagonist should be seen as an add-on skill, something for medium range threats better trained for once high risk tactics have been thoroughly confirmed. This view is not without its opposition in the self defence world. There are instructors who base their preference for grappling for self defence on the probable truth that most interpersonal physical alterations in the developed world does not rise above the mid-level threat line; you are more likely to be manhandling your drunken friend or family member out of a party than you are to be facing off against a potential rapist or murderer. Therefore, they argue, most training should be geared towards mid-level physical threats. By the same token emergency services should prepare more for non-life threatening situations and false alarms as they are called more to these than genuine disasters. Imagine a carâ??s safety features being tested against the commonest types of knocks and prangs it will encounter. Simply put we just do not assess risks or test things just on likelihood. It is far more logical and practical to prepare for the worst so that you can reduce your tactics accordingly that it is to do it the other way around.

In conclusion grappling from a combative point of view is a last resort method when pre-emptive striking has failed and is best employed as a means for getting in a better position to strike and escape. Of course, there are techniques contained in grappling, including some of the most lethal unarmed techniques known to man, that work very effectively in their own right. However, these techniques, like grappling in general, should be viewed as incidental.

Primal Grappling

Grappling is a humanâ??s default fighting method. When we play-fight we grapple and street-fights often turn into grappling contests. Early free-for-all fights the world over have routinely favoured the grappler over the more strike-based fighter simply because humans naturally end up clinching within the first few seconds of a fight. There are several theories for this. Essentially our species has excelled with its tool-using capabilities. All animals from other apes to ravens to dolphins tend to indicate their level of intelligence through their use of tools. Humans seem to have sacrificed a good deal of their unarmed physical capabilities, compared to other animals, in favour of this increased intelligence. We make fairly pitiful fighters until we start using tools, which might be the reason why untrained people will strike with their hand in the same manner as they would swing a blunt instrument[i].

Desmond Morris, the eminent zoologist and ethologist, argues that humans are essentially a non-violent species and only through the perversion of our tool-making and using abilities through our increased intelligence have become the deadliest creatures on the planet. Against our own species we prefer to grapple. Despite containing one of the few genuinely fatal unarmed techniques â?? strangulation â?? grappling is a far less damaging way to fight another person than striking. After a full on grappling bout the protagonists might be as much or even more physically drained than those in a striking-only contest, but they will have taken far less injury on either side. This is why you will find that striking sparring, such as boxing and Muay Thai, is often far more restrained then grappling.

So why do we naturally opt for grappling against another person if it takes more work and the result is that far less damage will be inflicted? Some have put forward the idea that we grapple to protect our species. It all stems from our tribal nature. The grappling match is the safest way for an Alpha Male or female to assert dominance over a challenger without depleting their tribeâ??s ranks[ii]. The idea is that most species, given the right natural conditions, will use non-lethal tactics against one another. Horned and antlered animals will butt heads in a test of strength rather than try to gouge each other in the side as they would do with an attacking predator; venomous snakes entangle each other rather than inject venom and so on. Even our fellow apes, who will happily use their superior teeth to bite off whatever appendage that we offer them, tend to wrestle each other and only show each other their teeth. Serious biting, as opposed to mouthing, only tends to come into play if there is something in-between them such as mesh in a zoo-type situation or when other apes join-in to gang up.

Whatever our reasons, certain grappling moves are inherent in our fighting make-up. I have observed this, particularly in my childrenâ??s classes, when I have set up combative activities for novice students. During these activities students will naturally do crude versions of headlocks, bear hugs, waist-locks as well as grip wrists, trip, push, ankle pick and tackle, and they will often fall into positions taught in trained grappling. It is a fascinating observational study in effectiveness through a type of individual natural selection. It also brings into question theories regarding the international roots of certain grappling arts. Although there is documented evidence that certain martial arts systems did influence other countries, at least in modern times, history and common sense tends to support the theory that every country and most cultures have their own indigenous form of grappling.

Having formulated some great robust methods for grappling that have taken the form of combat sports, the intuitive student or coach can use the fundamental feel for primal grappling and build on it. Furthermore, by understanding primal grappling through play-fighting we become acquainted with the most common moves people put on each other. For example, the side headlock is a universal hold we pick up at a very early age and it groundwork cousin, the scarf hold, is often found by accident. Drilling escapes from it immediately better prepares us from falling into it during a real life skirmish in the clinch.

Martial arts and self defence are often taught in a very passive and reactive manner. Students clear their minds in order to have them filled by the knowledge and experience of their teacher. This can be fine in some respects, but I like to encourage my students to think for themselves as early as possible. When it comes to a real life situation they are the baseline. Self defence, after all, should be about independence, empowerment and personal responsibility; this is best achieved when you reveal to a student their instinctive capability to fight. By cultivating this capability and then directing it intelligently you have a better chance for the skills to become instinctive and not an abstract notion.

In his autobiography â??The Godfather of Grapplingâ?? (aka â??The Toughest Man Aliveâ??), â??Judoâ?? Gene LeBell makes a heavy distinction between wrestling and the art of â??grapplingâ??. He said he was first taught to grapple as a child by Ed â??The Stranglerâ?? Lewis, where he learnt all-in fighting. LeBelle asserts that in grappling pretty much everything goes from standard submissions to face-bars and nose tweaks. This, it would seem, stems from primal grappling. It is an extension of what comes from childhood brawling, where you start to learn all the dirty tricks of in-fighting. Many of these techniques have been directed towards stopping an adversary from grappling and now come into their own isolated category known as anti-grappling.


Anti-grappling is a term used to describe the various tactics used to neutralize grappling techniques. Many include illegal close-range techniques not found in mainstream sports competition such as eye gouges, biting, head-butting, strikes to the groin, larynx crushes, fish-hooking, gripping or pinching flesh, pulling the hair, ears, lips or nose, and small joint manipulation like finger-locks. However, they can also be any technique that staves off a grappling situation such as evasion techniques or pushes or blocks to prevent takedowns.

There are three popular schools of thought on anti-grappling in the martial arts community. One school does not see the benefits in grappling for self defence whatsoever and argues that a student can simply learn certain tactics that will neutralize grappling tactics so they can strike more efficiently. Another one argues the complete opposite. They find the concept of anti-grappling being ridiculous, believing that once a person has clinched you need to know how to grapple better as adrenaline will probably over-ride all the nasty tricks an anti-grappler will try to pull out. The third school of thought believes that in order to be a good anti-grappler you need to learn how to be a grappler first.

There is something in all these philosophies. I am not going dismiss any of them, but see their pros and cons. Self defence is a skill that should be learnt within a short space of time, containing techniques that do not require a huge degree of maintenance. Grappling is an art that is perfected through countless hours of hard labour. So the first school of thought has a point. However, as we have discussed, grappling is a basic instinct and one that is likely to be used against you by a larger and stronger adversary in a self defence situation. Although it is probably unlikely that the attacker will be a skilled and trained competitive grappler, it is not unlikely that he will have forged his limited grappling skills through fighting other people in civilian situations. These physical advantages will quite possibly have meant he will have been selected during his school years for sports, such as rugby, that will have taught him some degree of determination and full contact grit. Adrenaline, drink or drugs will most probably dull his senses bringing any pain compliant or psychological tactics into question if you donâ??t have a good position. The second school of thought seems to have been proven through the huge success the grappling arts have enjoyed in virtual no rules competitions. For example, Brazilian vale tudo permitted many anti-grappling techniques or at least only imposed a proportionately minor fine for violation of them and still the grapplers prevailed.

I have to say that, at the time of writing, the last school of thought appears to have the most value for self defence. How the ratio of grappling to anti-grappling is decided is a matter for further debate and perhaps the individual, but it all rests on the basic idea of understanding your enemy before you can defeat him. After all some grappling techniques are useful anti-grappling techniques. Sprawling is a prime example of this and was a key technique used to aid strikers regain their respect in the world of mixed martial arts competition, giving rise to the term â??sprawl â??n brawlâ??. Furthermore, many have discovered, to their dismay, that anti-grappling techniques often lack efficiency without good grappling positioning. This isnâ??t to say that you should fight grappling with grappling, but you should consider combining your anti-grappling tactic with your grappling defence. Otherwise you might receive the same in kind from someone who holds a better position over you.

Grappling to Strike

Once you are in any grappling position it is often difficult for people to over-ride their natural instincts and to strike. We tend to fight our adversaries by their rules in real fights. In the case of grappling we could argue that we are simply obeying our inherent desire to fight like an alpha member of our species, but we also often square up when someone squares up to strike or simply hit back when someone hits us. The predator often runs the show and this can be seen as much in verbal exchanges as it can in brawls. This is why a core exercise in my school is the â??Strategy One versus Strategy Twoâ?? test/exercise. Itâ??s a type of pressure test that has a wide range of uses, but essentially pits a person using distancing strategies (strategy one) against someone restricted to using tactics for closing the distance (strategy two). Roughly speaking it is striking and anti-grappling versus covering and grappling. The test is very intensive due to the two different objectives, which is much more in line with an assault/counter-assault situation as opposed to a â??square goâ?? situation. The test also forces the striker to find ways to strike the grappler and the grappler to understand how to tie up the striker. It serves as a good tool for developing the different sides of combat grappling.

After this exercise you can look at more specific areas to couple grappling with striking. This includes fighting up against a wall, from various clinching positions and positions on the ground. In the world of MMA we have seen the development of â??dirty boxingâ??, popularized by Randy â??The Naturalâ?? Couture, that harks back to the 18th and 19th century methods of bareknuckle fighting, where fighters could grip and trap to strike. We have also seen plenty of tactics taken from muay Thai, where the clinch position is used extensively to strike with the knees and elbows.[iii] However, the most famous and iconic MMA tactic of all is perhaps the use of striking from the top position on the ground. Known as â??ground â??n poundâ?? it was popularized by wrestlers in MMA like Mark Coleman and is a classic example of striking from a grappling position. In self defence, the person on top should use the position to better regain their feet and avoid getting tied up even if they are in a completely dominant position like the full mount. This obviously stems from the danger of multiple attackers who can surround the fighters and attack the person on top whereas the person underneath might actually even be an advantageous position, where all he has to do is hold onto the â??dominantâ?? person. This is why I recommend using the knee pin (aka knee-on-stomach) as the best type of pin.

Striking from the guard appears to be in its infancy in MMA competition with some gyms even advising against it. The guard position has seen the development of sophisticated sweeps and submissions through grappling based competitions. However, even in the early days of MMA the likes of RoyceGracie demonstrated striking techniques that could be used from the guard. Striking should be sought from every conceivable position and the guard, which has a good degree of control, is no different. If we can use our legs to push then we can use them to kick. The heels can be used savagely in downward striking actions to the rear of the person on top and the knees can also be used, albeit in a limited way. There is also sufficient leverage to strike with the hands and parts of the arm such as the elbows, especially as you transition.

Grappling as Attribute Training

Sport grappling is a fantastic art to cross train in to develop good attributes for self defence conditioning. I would highly recommend judo, sombo, Brazilian jiu jitsu, submission grappling, Greco-Roman wrestling and freestyle wrestling to develop combative fortitude. Grappling fitness is a consistent and toughening type of athleticism that develops great cardiovascular endurance, strength, flexibility, balance and agility.

The experience a person can bring from grappling sports will only enhance a self defence studentâ??s knowledge of positioning and make them panic less about the dangers of ground fighting. The only danger that can be imported from cross-training in any combat sport is not changing the context. We cross-train to gain experience not accumulate techniques. You can use your new techniques and competition-based tactics within the realms of the sport, but when we come back to the self defence path we need to adopt a minimalistic state of mind and to keep our objective clear.

Combat Grappling in Conclusion

Interestingly I have read that FILA have named their form of amateur MMA â??Combat Grapplingâ??. Nevertheless, the term is popularly still known as the self defence application of grappling techniques. Essentially combat grappling is what Gene LeBell simply termed â??grapplingâ??, all-in-wrestling strategies. Efficiency is consistent, which is why all full contact grappling sports essentially contain some very similar positioning and tactics, rules permitting. This positioning is also at the core of combat grappling with the addition of illegal techniques. It should be simplistic by design, not dwelling on sophisticated takedowns, submissions or combination work that relies on the other fighter being a grappler (or an MMA fighter for that matter), so that it can be easily learnt as a support system when matters go wrong in a self defence situation.

Training can be mainly done on mats for safety reasons, but all groundwork should also be exercised off the mats, in confined spaces and around obstacles so that you full appreciate what it will be like scramble around on a regular floor or the unprotected ground. Using the floor or ground as a weapon should also be taken into consideration, as the average streetfighter will certainly take advantage of this tactic if they end up on top. Multiple attacker exercises and tests are also great ways to get out of the habit of unnecessarily getting tangled up with single combatants. Contrary to popular belief the grappler actually has a great ability to manoeuvre around multiple assailants if he keeps his head.

Grappling is a strategy two tactic. Its purpose is to get in a better position to strike and escape. If a choking/strangling, sweeping, takedown or locking opportunity arises that does unnecessarily delay you then,
by all means, use it. Scepticism should be applied when practicing these. Ask the question whether the techniques are man-stoppers? A rear choke or strangle performed with the arms is perhaps the highest percentage techniques you can find in combat grappling. They are easy to learn and apply delivering potentially lethal results, if required, in a short space of time. They are also non-attribute based making them ideally suited for the individual.


[i] Theory put forward in â??Manwatchingâ??, Desmond Morris 1977

[ii] Itâ??s an idea in line with Desmond Morrisâ??s inâ??Manwatchingâ??, but I first heard it being put forward in the martial artssector by Sgt. Rory Miller during one of his seminars circ. 2004

[iii] Of course, muay Thaiâ??s close Burmese cousin, Lethweialso uses the clinch to headbutt, a tactic famously still allowed in theScandinavian MMA promotion, â??Fin Fightâ??.


tl dr?


Very interesting. It wasn't the typical approach to grappling that's pushed by clubs, which lie and say that it's a good plan for real self defense.

I also give him credit for saying that grappling, in a primal sense, is a way to establish dominance without actually killing each other. Marc Macyoung has been saying for years that this is why they teach it to the military - not for field use, but so that bored or drunk soldiers don't try to rip each other's eyes out.

I do like the way he approaches it though - that its a secondary thing meant to be used to hit and escape. Keeping it simple and teaching those "Anti-grappling" moves that are typically NOT taught in "self-defense" versions of BJJ is another plus.


Good stuff, very similar to what we teach.


Glad you guys found it interesting. The BCA is good people. What is it you teach Sentoguy?


iCAT (Integrated Combative Arts Training):

Lysak's Sento Method:

I also teach Best Way Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu:

but Best Way BJJ is obviously a little different from what is being described in the above quoted article. iCAT and SENTO were more what I was referring to.


Really interesting links Sentoguy, thanks for sharing. This article was of great interest to me, as I am still a bit of a gym tourist. There is a brilliant coach near me who coaches Judo both here and in the US, but having got into some of this self defence theory I am wondering if it really is the best foundation for self defence. There is another club near me that trains in something they call Close Quarter Combat, which they supplement with one wrestling and one boxing session a week, coached by some really amazing guys- an Olympic team coach and a former member of the USSR boxing squad. Sentoguy and Irish I'm going to fire you a PM to see what you reckon.



I am not attempting to speak for either Sentoguy or FightinIrish, but I would like to weigh in on this.

First, most of what really matters in real world self-defense/social violence/criminal violence/professional use of force is pretty damn far removed from anything that is practiced or trained. I would say knowing that shit is about to start is half the game. Knowing in time to do something might be another quarter of it.

Boxing, Judo, Wrestling, Muay Thai, MMA, the competitive shooting sports (I know that being in Great Britain carrying a firearm is not an option if you want to stay legal, but I mention it for completeness), the full contact stick fighting the Dog Brothers do, etc. all bypass the uncertainty inherent in the fact that unless you are the criminal you do not get to pick your opponent, the time, or the place. The very fact you pack a bag and go to a place to train lets you know that shit is going to happen; this is very different than being ambushed or assaulted.

Systems/schools that focus on self-defense usually address things like awareness, tactics, weapons, and probably at least pay some attention to managing/attempting to mitigate the damage of all the unknowns (does he have: a knife, a gun, a friend, a willingness to hurt me, bad intentions, oh shit he has a pit bull/Rottweiler/angry dog on a leash and I have no idea how to fight a person and a dog, etc.). Some systems are obviously better at this than others. Add in all the possible categories of skills you may need and you wind up with some serious laundry list curriculums. Even a cursory glance at the links Sento gave shows this.

So, it sounds like the CQC school is further ahead because they are at least recognizing the Wicked Problem (that is not slang, it is a term that denotes a problem that is difficult, if not impossible to solve due to incomplete information, contradictory information, interdependent factors, and evolving goals/requirements for achieving a good outcome) that is non-sport/arranged violence. The problem posed by the wicked is indeed a Wicked Problem (that sound you hear is the straining of FightinIrish's arteries to hold in his rage over the crime I just committed against the English language). I think you are already of this mind.


The above is great and all, but it also exceedingly important that the instructors be capable teachers, and not merely accomplished individuals. It is also very important the curriculum is structured and presented in a way that allows you to learn.

There are a great many books, videos, and seminars that are designed to add real-world tools and understanding to your toolbox. What may really be important is to foster technical mastery of some useful skills first, and then worry about being able to apply them. I am not saying that all Reality Self Defense/Real World/Combative courses are deficient in doing this. In fact the term Technical Mastery is one that I unceremoniously lifted/stole from Sento, who is adamant it comes from Walt Lysak (see his links). Obviously, Lysak recognizes the importance of getting good. In fact he may be a one man walking solution, or as close to it as possible, to the Wicked Problem. However, not all Reality Based Self Defense Instructors even recognize the value of technical mastery. I have personally seen schools that do not. They talk the game of building a toolbox, but they are incapable or unwilling to foster skill development in a meaningful way. Their students are under the mistaken notion that possessing shitty grappling skills, shitty striking skills, abysmal weapons skills, horrific balance, and generally piss poor technique is somehow superior to more limited technique that does not suck. I do not hold with this. Training in street clothes does not automatically make a system more practical. Intensity and aggression are not cruise controls to victory.

Having a varied tool box is valuable only to the extent that each tool is valuable in solving a problem. I would rather have a few, decent options, than a myriad of shitty ones. I can do a lot with a screw driver (chisel, pry, hammer, and on occasion turn screws), the head of a shitty screwdriver strips out and won't even make good on its name.

I feel you must recognize the Wicked Problem as best you can. However, if the technical instruction at the Judo school is better than it may be preferable to train there and pursue seminars/learning opportunities outside of the curriculum. If the CQC School has good teachers, and you like it better, go there. I would rather train at a good Karate Dojo, than a train at a poor SAS Seal Special Combat Warfare Israeli Ninja Jedi school. At least I might be able to throw a punch.

I will also state that training somewhere you enjoy is pretty damn important. Developing any skill takes time. Developing martial skills to the point where you may be able to turn the tables on someone in situations picked by your enemy to deny you a good outcome happens over years. (The bad guy is trying to rig the game in his favor. He has reason to believe he will be successful or he would not try.) Pick the school that you feel you can learn from, and that you enjoy. Also, find a training option that is not so cost prohibitive that life will get in the way of training. If you have to choose between rent and Ninja Skills, your safety is going to take a hit either way. Questions, or perceived issues, can be addressed as they develop.

Of course, you probably shouldn't be listening to an uppity Yankee this close to our Independence Day.


Robert A

Addendum: I am assuming this means your back is healed up/close enough for jazz. I am damn glad for it Roundhead.


Excellent post Robert.

In regards to Judo or any other combat sport, first realize that training in the dojo/kwoon/gym can never be "real" (otherwise people would be going to the hospital after every class and you'd very quickly run out of students/training partners); the best it can ever be is more of less "realistic". Combat sports like Judo are an important component of a well rounded RMA program IMOs, so if that school is quality instruction it can only help you. Just remember that it's not a complete RMA and remember to keep context in mind when learning the techniques.


Awesome read. It reminds me of when I first started learning about Aikido and the moves made more sense when taught against someone with a wooden bokken. They explained many of the moves where made to counter an armed swordsman (Or knife, spear, etc) but where easily adapted to unarmed circumstances.


born and raised a boxer, got old and trained kids, still loved to spar. Lost me job, had to move and took up weights but that, like boxing, is for fun and comaradarie.

But for self defence?

CCW then....find a range that allows and hopefully teaches point shooting. Twice a week like f'n clockwork for an hour or 3 go point-shot.

my nineteen year old daughter is better than me cause thats what she was raised on.

were talkin self defense here right?
As in life or death?

i might be from the stone age, but my Kahr PM45 ain't.



I wouldn't seriously rely on your CCW as your only means of self defense, there are many situations to consider where you might not be able to employ your firearm efficiently. In fact, someone better in the know might be able to confirm, but don't most gun-fighting/pistol schools now blend combatives with gunfighting techniques?

Anyways Roundhead, great find. With the huge sweeping popularity of MMA, too many gyms now are offering BJJ as its trained for competition fighting as "self defence" with no consideration for real world violence.

Also that comment about the lack of appreciation of technical mastery present in the RSD industry is so true. A good analogy for me is like boxing, I can easily show a new person how to change angles as someone is coming in aggressively and counter, they then possess the knowledge of "how to", but actually pulling it off live is something else entirely that takes time and probably importantly, mistakes, to get it down.


"I wouldn't seriously rely on your CCW as your only means of self defense, there are many situations to consider where you might not be able to employ your firearm efficiently."

funny, because thats exactly why point-shooting was developed in the first place. You practice drawing from the ground, from a chair, turning around etc. It ain't stand with your leg's spread, two hands on the gun extended while you close one eye and zero in on the x and breath and exhale.

Try this, i assume you box, or wrestle or martial art whatever. Drive across town to a gym that teaches the same. Where they don't know you. Walk in and put 5K on the table and tell the owner you can take any 3 of his best at one time and you'll sign a waiver releasing responsiblity for any injury and see how things work out. I'm not familar with alot of MMA or martial art competitions where one compete's against multiple opponents at once for real. For real. Except of course in all those great movies.

And what are you going to do when you reach my age sport? and then later? You gonna be the one guy in history that doesn't get old or slow down right.

Waiting to learn to shoot until your reaching 60 is as bright as waiting till your 60 to take up Jujitsu.



Nobody who is being realistic will deny the killing power of a firearm. But, to think that being able to carry one is going to be an effective form of self defense in and of itself is a little short sighted.

I've told this story before, but one of the iCAT instructors Richard Ryan is also one of the head instructors at Gunsite in Arizona. A few years back they decided to actually test out about every scenario you can imagine involving a firearm weilding defender and a fully committed attacker. So, they donned protective gear and used live simmunitions firearms.

What they found was that the only time that the would be attacker didn't successfully get to the gunperson (with their ability to inflict harm in tact) was when:

1) there was at least 25 feet between the two parties to begin with
2) the firearm was already drawn and pointed at center mass to begin with
3) the forearm wielding defender was able to back up and reload the gun to continue firing
4) the gun wielding defender was HIGHLY trained

If any of those criteria were not met, the attacker got to the defender. And we are not talking about people who are uneducated when it comes to firearm training here. We are talking about swat members, police, and military personnel.

Now, if you know anything about real world self defense situations you'll know that many of them start from conversational range (basically close enough to touch each other without having to step forward) or just outside that range. At that range there is no way you are going to be able to access your firearm and utilize it effectively before your opponent can do substantial damage to you (especially if all you've done is range work and point shooting).

I'm not saying that it would be impossible to eventually access and utilize a firearm, but in most cases it's going to require that you have some other combative skills to get you to that point (at least to keep you awake long enough to survive the initial onslaught).


BTW, I am by no means saying that getting a CCW or learning how to effectively utilize a firearm for self defense are not good ideas or beneficial. Just that a lot of people (law enforcement included) develop "tactical tunnelvision" and believe that because they carry a firearm that it means they can rely on it exclusively for self protection.


Excellant posts as usual Sentoguy.

I have written other places about once the shooting/attempts to shoot happen at a close enough distance it less about gun fighting(where marksmanship mechanics, cover, movement, etc. rule) and more a fight where you happen to have a gun (damn near opposite rules of movement).

I knew I recognized Ryan's name from somewhere other than his knife book.


Robert A



One point to consider, if only to minimize the "talking past each other" that happens so frequently on forums, is that not every locale has the same (correct in my opinion) view on "right to keep and bear arms" and especially "shall not be infringed".

Roundhead is in the UK so carrying firearms is out. Actually even carrying a folding knife that has a lock moves him from lawful to rolling dirty. I am not sure but I think Australia has restrictions against firearms. Even within the US not every zip code is the same. We have shall issue vs may issue, and certain cities and sheriffs that make carrying a firearm not a legal option for all but a few.


Robert A


I have also seen everything Sentoguy descibes in simmuniton/fight suit training and he is bang on. Barring far superior speed and agility on the part of the shooter, some sort of HTH "bridge" is almost always necessary to disrupt the attack and/or create distance before the firearm can be brought to bear. Even more so with a concealed rig. Trainees who are overly weapons-fixated almost always struggle with a spontaneous attack from close quarters.

It's a little disconcerting actually, watching these scenarios play out and honestly considering how vulnerable you really are to a committed attack, even if you are carrying.


This is what I was saying. You seem to have misconstrued it as if I was saying that carrying a CCW for self defense is a stupid idea, LBramble. I'm not, in any way


Well boyo, bein as you say "me job" and being as you spell "defense" with a "c" in this post, I'd say that you, of all people, should know that guns are only good if the government lets you carry them.

While I agree that weapons are the first second and third resort in real self defense, there's something to be said for being good with your hands that not only makes you a lot more dangerous at any time, but also makes people wary of you and think twice about coming after you.