T Nation

The Tactical Life


This vid has been making the rounds lately. Great example of reaction time and restraint. The way the LEO calls it in before engaging the other dude is insane.


Can you expand on “watch the hands”? What exactly do you mean by this? At what point do you consider hand movement an attempt to assault?

When in a confrontation I have always tried to act and look cool and calm, but often wonder if I am vulnerable to a quick sucker punch, as I avoid having my hands up as I this would look aggressive.



First and foremost, I’m talking about weapons.

My last chippy bouncing encounter involved a guy who refused to leave the property. He was over-served (which I brought up with the bartender), but that’s not always an easy thing to manage when other people are buying drinks. Especially rounds of shots.

I made the call to cut the guy off and the bartender supported me. After a minute or two of unproductive discussion, I grabbed his tricep to show I meant business. (As an aside, a tricep grab can transition into a Russian Tie quite well, which is a great stand-up grappling technique in a variety of circumstances). The guy realized that the bartender and I were both serious that he was cut off, and he walked out on his own without any more force.

Once outside he just went into total asshole behavior. He was a big dude, roughly 6’00" and probably close to 300lbs. He kept trying to get back in, I kept denying him entry and suggesting he start walking or call a cab/Uber. After 5 or so minutes of his nonsense I had a regular tell the bartender to call the cops. I’m not about to commit assault for a side-job, so I resigned myself to putting up with his bullshit until the cops showed up. A little while after that he got in his car, presumably to drive himself home while he was tanked.

I took a picture of his license plate as he was pulling out of the lot. When my flash went off he put his car in park and rushed me. He had his right hand in his pocket the entire time. I pushed him back with moderate force and told him to show me his hands. I raised my voice for the first time in the entire shit-show, saying “SHOW ME YOUR RIGHT HAND!”

He did, and i checked his pocket afterwards and there was nothing in it.

The cops came by a few minutes later and took him away.

Things played out well. I didn’t need to fight and the drunk idiot didn’t get in his car to endanger everyone else on the road. Hopefully he learned some kind of lesson from the whole ordeal, but my money is on him still being a total asshole.

Regarding the hands… In that moment of uncertainty I was ready to own that right hand at all costs. My instructor’s beaten that into me. I’ll die on that hill of hand control if I have to. Beat me all you want with your free hand, I will own the hand that’s in the pocket or in the holster, hell or high water, and I will hopefully find a way to derange your shoulder joint while I’m owning that limb.

Make Jiu Jitsu Violent Again!

This is a good question. Someone punching, violently grabbing or kicking you is clearly assault. At that point the whistle has blown and you need to protect yourself. The asshole I mentioned above was probably guilty of assault when he charged me and said I’d be “sorry” for taking his picture, but even that was borderline and I was mostly concerned with his right hand since he was drunk as a skunk and in no position to beat me in a fight without a weapon.

That asshole slapped my side, slapped my belly and slapped my arm. I didn’t consider any of these to be assault, even though I probably could have. I stayed in prayer position with combat footing while this clown acted like a clown. I read the situation and didn’t feel like I was in danger, but I was ready to arm-drag and/or clinch the guy at the drop of a hat, then go to work from there. That’s bouncing.

My instructor said it quite well. If things get violent, you’re either starting in a bad position or you’re committing assault.


Watch the clip that Vrednic posted above. Hands kill. Bad guy’s hand was inside his jacket for around a second before the pistol came out. Someone will usually (not always) touch a concealed weapon one or more times before they pull it.

Concerning vulnerability to a sucker punch, your best protection after awareness of body language is distance management. If you are standing so you can just see someone’s feet in your peripheral vision while you look them in the face, they likely can’t punch/cut/stab you without taking a step toward you first. Some call this your reactionary gap.

Concerning keeping your hands up, keep your hands up. There are a couple of ways to this without looking aggressive. Some of my favorites are the “thinking man”; one hand grips your chin thoughtfully and the other arm drapes across your mid section like The Thinker sculpture. There’s the “I don’t want no trouble”; hands up shoulder height, palms out flat toward the threat in the universal gesture for calm down/stay back. There’s the “Mediterranean man”; basically talking with your hands, using gestures to mask the fact that you’re in a defensive posture. This one takes the most practice to make it look natural, but has the added benefit of being able to move your hands to check his hands without it being obvious that’s what you’re doing.

A hand movement is an attempt at an assault when I reasonably believe based on my training and experience that this person is about to assault me. My line in the sand will not be the same as yours. The trick is being able to explain that to someone else, after the fact.


Thanks for posting the vid and thanks to 2JS and Batman730 for excellent responses.

One point I would like to bring up: the cop was very fast in blocking the weapon and returning fire, but, it was a one handed shot. We train constantly in a two hand solid hold but you would be surprised at the number of encounters that are started with a smooth draw and one handed shot.

This is one of the critical areas that is being grossly ignored in LEO / military training. (IMO). I will post some thoughts on “one hand shooting” tomorrow.


Motivational Monday: One of the hardest things to learn and totally accept is there are and always will be, people who are better than you. I was very stubborn about this and it cost me valuable time. If doesn’t matter what your profession is or who you are, learn from those who are better. Never lie to yourself, don’t say I was having a “bad day” or “well, in real life that person couldn’t have done that to me” Seek out professionals in your training, seek knowledge, seek to become the best you can be ,because in the end, it comes down to you.


“Learning to defend yourself with your hands, like learning to drive or shoot, means repetition, analysis, adjustment, and trying again. If you approach the process expecting to become Randy Couture in a matter of weeks, the problem isn’t the program … it’s you”. ----LOR

“Nobody wants war, but sometimes it takes violence to create peace. Like it or don’t like it…that’s how shit works”—WFA.


Continuing down the rabbit hole of hand placement and being ready without escalating the encounter, I think setting can make a difference in how you approach it.

As a bouncer, if I put hands on everyone who threatened me verbally I’d be putting hands on a lot more people. If I put hands on everyone who makes light contact with me I’d be putting hands on a lot more people. I’m also on video, as are all of the people I interact with. My goal is also very specific, protect myself, protect others and get the person outside and keep them there. Call the cops if they don’t leave on their own. No hero stuff or teaching anyone any lessons in the parking lot a’la Steven Seagal, even though there have been plenty of jerks I’d like to smash the hell out of.

My threshold for taking action is a bit lower if I am just out-and-about minding my own business. I’m also typically armed with a concealed pistol, and I’m also being safety-minded to begin with, staying out of bad areas and generally minding my own business. If I decide to not mind my own business it would be in a situation where I’m ready to intervene and believe I can produce an improved outcome without being the one to escalate.

Back to hand position, I’ve defaulted to prayer position (similar to what Batman730 described above) where my elbows are tucked, my hands are up and my fingertips are touching each other. As I’m talking with someone who may get aggressive I’ll go back and forth from that to the “I don’t want trouble” stance, still with elbows tucked but my hands up and palms facing outward. I keep my right foot back a half-step and on my toes with my left foot leading and planted. This footing puts you in a position where you can either shoot in quickly or keep your footing if you’re shoved.

@theBird Try starting some of your rolls like this if you haven’t. Most guys start crouched with arms outstretched, looking for grips right away. That’s generally better for sport grappling, but you’re missing a training opportunity to get accustomed to working from a more upright posture with your elbows tucked and hands up. Another drill you can do in a roll is having you and your partner act like you’re reaching into a pocket and playing a game of owning the hand from there. Get some butter knives or training knives out if you want to step up the realism a bit. Add some palm strikes if you want to step up the realism a bit more.

This is why I’ve come to favor grappling with violent guys on the job. We’ve had a couple of former bouncers who just clobber people and one of them ended up getting sued (and fired). It’s all on video and I’ve never had to explain to a cop or a lawyer why anyone I put hands on is all cut up with a swollen face or missing a tooth. I still haven’t gone to the ground with anyone yet, that’s only a last resort for me, but I’ve eaten a few inept punches to take their back, get to a clinch and sometimes put THEM on the ground.

Here’s a fun little video of a measured response against someone who was verbally aggressive but hadn’t actually hurt anyone (yet). The way this jackass was acting is very typical of what I deal with at the bar. Intoxicated, angry and very unpredictable. You’ve got no idea what they will do. People can be on more than just alcohol when they’re out at the bar too. There’s nothing like a coked-up drunk guy who thinks he’s invincible and doing nothing wrong by acting like a maniac.


Prayer stance from when John Danaher still had hair. From his and Renzo Gracie’s outstanding book Mastering Jujitsu.


Totally agree. A high percentage of “oh shit” shootings start single handed just as your muzzle clears leather (or kydex). I would add that people are often back-pedalling in high speed reverse when this happens. This is definitely an area where LE training is woefully inadequate, particularly given how dire a situation that is.

I’d say that even people who train single hand most often train it with the gun punched out and from a stable platform, using the sights, like shooting a single hand stage at an IPSC match. I can manage fairly quick, consistent A zone hits from 7m with either hand in this manner. Of course, that has nothing to do with my ability to shoot from retention, at the hip while moving backward for my life and possibly fighting with my support hand.

Super important and overlooked skill.


Good stuff man. But Danaher with hair is just weird…


Danaher isn’t wearing a rashguard in that picture either. Looks like a totally different guy!


I am impressed by how completely calm that guy was. No yelling, no anger or machismo posturing. Just stayed out of the situation, then intervened with the lowest level of force he could to get the man down without causing any damage of risking escalation.


This speaks to what I was writing about above, where training melts away the side-effects of fear by allowing you to read the situation better. Your training kicks in and you can take actions that you’ve done before against opponents who are far more capable than your average intoxicated and irrational aggressor. You stay calm because you realize where the potential threats are and only see a guy who is being loud, very rude and posturing up. Just watch those hands at all times…

The subway hero in the video clearly lifted and had some knowledge of grappling. The asshole was just another chump who was being loud, aggressive and scaring the hell out of everyone. A sizable skill advantage on-top of a sizable strength advantage can turn a scary encounter into a routine encounter, especially when placed on top of a sizable experience advantage.

The more you manage to distance yourself from your opponent through strength, fitness, training and gameness, the more man-handling foolish adults becomes akin to controlling children.


Nice statement and basically sums up everything.


Thought for the day:

As I said yesterday, I believe one handed shooting , drawing from a holster firing with one hand or using your support hand , is one of the most critical skills you can acquire. I find this applies more for LEO’s and civilians than military applications. Although there are many similar techniques, tactics ,and training that cross over from military CQB and the LEO world, one of the major differences in military applications, you rarely go hands on( my experience) and this is something LEO’s do every day.

Controlling suspects usually involves at least one hand, most often two. Just the simple act of escorting a cuffed suspect back to the vehicle requires you place a firm grip on the elbow. Imagine a sudden attack, you will not have time to shove the suspect out of the way and draw and fire from a traditional two handed grip. Same with a civilian escorting their child across a busy intersection, one hand to control the child for a safe approach, if attacked, , you will have to respond with a one handed grip. In real life nothing ever goes according to every plan or every type of training.

Another view:

One-handed shooting may be the most necessary skill no one really teaches or practices.

Self-defense situations have real-world obstacles. People, chairs, tables and lots of other things will be in the way that you must go around, over and through. Doors need to be opened or closed, and items need to be pushed aside when you’re making your way to the exit. Your family will need to be contained, and you may have to carry small children. Hopefully, you can keep your firearm holstered or rifle slung. But you most likely won’t be able to, so one hand will be occupied. You must clear clothing and draw with just one hand, and possibly re-holster your gun similarly. You might have to grab someone by their hand or shirt, or push people out of the way. Just think about it. You might have to cover an exit while holding open a door.

Restaurant kitchens have those hanging plastic curtains that you might have to walk through and cannot see beyond. You will absolutely run into obstacles in such a crisis, and your balance won’t be perfect. You and everyone else in the area will be moving. The threat may be hunting you.

As you can see, everything in the real world conspires to prevent you from obtaining a perfect two-handed grip, stance and sight picture. So, you should practice being able to shoot from less-than-ideal positions with just one hand rather than praying for divine intervention or expecting to “rise to the occasion.” In more than three decades of experience, I’ve found the former is out of your hands, and the latter is pure fantasy.

What You Need for One-Handed Shooting

Your preparation should start by getting a firearm that you can shoot accurately with just one hand. It doesn’t matter whether you use a revolver, a semi-auto handgun, a rifle or even a shotgun—it must work under the least favorable conditions; like when you’re off balance, on the move, can’t get a great stance, etc. You could be seated, on one knee, on the ground behind cover, or walking backwards protecting your family.

Real fights are messy, and itty bitty guns may not work. This is why people are turning to pistols equipped with reflect sights. Six-pound rifles with tons of useless crap are worthless if you can’t hold them up with one hand. Ultra-light ARs, whether they’re pistols or SBRs, also shine here. Keep your gun light so you can carry and use it with just one hand, but not so small that it won’t get the job done in the worst possible conditions.

Perfect Practice

To become accurate with one hand, you need to work on presentations from concealment, aiming, trigger manipulation and getting hits. Single-handed stoppage and reload drills are great, but you’ll have both hands for that, so keep it to a minimum. After you get things down from a static standing position, it’s time to start moving. Shoot from a seated position, on one knee, and around, through and over obstacles. Make sure that your gun works with your carry ammo in these conditions, and that you can keep the gun running.

Grab a pillow, a basketball or something similar and carry it in your support hand while you’re shooting. Load up a suitcase with something heavy and drag it around while you shoot to simulate holding a hand or dragging someone. Then kneel over the pillow or suitcase and shoot as if you’re holding someone down. It might be someone that’s injured or scared, and you need to push them down to keep them out of the line of fire. Set up steel targets and push the object with one hand while shooting, as if to move someone out of the way.

Practice presenting your pistol from a seated position, like on a bench or chair, without covering yourself or others. Do it slowly, quietly and covertly—it’s not about speed. Quick Draw McGraw is a cartoon character; you want surprise on your side. Practice “dry” or with a blue gun, then live. Bring out a table and start behind it. Push it over while staying on target with the other hand. Learn to work around it. Practice transitioning with one hand, then shooting with that same hand. Place your spare magazines so they can be reached with your strong hand. Get creative and stay safe, but figure out how to safely simulate real-world scenarios whenever possible.

Push Yourself

None of this is easy. No one never said it would be. The most useful skill is often the most difficult to learn and practice. Unfortunately, the easiest and most fun practice is often the least useful. We all like to do what’s fun, but we can’t stop there—not if lives are on the line.


Thought for the day: For those interested, from NEWSREP

Who’s more fit–US Marines or Royal Marines Commandos?

For the past few years, select members of the U.S. Marine Corps travel to the U.K. to participate in Royal Marines Commando training. True to the U.S. Marines’ institutional mentality to always adapt and improve, this provides them an opportunity to observe what works and how it can be implemented in the Corps’ physical regimen.

Some U.S. Marines (USMC) were also sent specifically to the Royal Marines’ Physical Training Instructor (PTI) program, a grueling 17-week process that produces combat-ready physical instructors that train the Royal Marines.

The assessment verdict: the British have a regimen far more sustainable and beneficial for the modern warfighter. USMC participants now recommend the Corps’ program focus on muscular endurance and functional fitness oriented toward combat.

In 2016, the USMC also launched the Force Fitness Instructor program, influenced by the PTI concept widespread in Commonwealth countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K.

Many experts argue that sheer strength and explosiveness are the ideal physical attributes for contemporary warfighters. Their points of view is informed from countless recent cases of urban warfare scenarios that require high levels of upper body strength–for example, to climb short walls; and explosiveness–for instance, in order to sprint from cover to cover.

On the other hand, there are other experts who argue muscular endurance and agility/mobility are far more important in the modern battlefield. Muscular endurance refers to the capacity of one’s muscles to perform a set task for long periods of time–such as bench-pressing lighter weights for more repetitions instead of doing fewer repetitions with heavier weights. And the saying “Agility/mobility is life” on the battlefield best describes its importance.

Considering the absurd amounts of equipment today’s warfighters have to carry, one can understand the need to opt for sheer strength over agility/mobility.

In the end, it’s far more important to tailor fitness regimens according to a unit’s or an individual’s mission–which often differs between deployments–rather than blindly commit to a specific program. For example, a unit deployed to the mountains of Afghanistan requires different levels of fitness than a unit deployed to the plains of Syria or the jungles of Venezuela. Perspective and situation must dictate preparation.


Thought for the (2): Any women on this thread? Military?, LEO? Firefighter? Civilian concealed carry? Firearms Instructors? Martial Arts instructors? If so, would you consider posting some of your training methods? Thanks.


Might as well contribute a bit!

Brief background: I’ve been involved in martial arts for over a decade. I started with hapkido (basically Korean jiu-jitsu), then added muay thai, boxing and BJJ to the mix. Last year I started supplementing all that with various Filipino and Indonesian war arts.

I began teaching after a few years of training, which RAPIDLY increased my understanding of techniques. Nothing like having to explain certain moves to completely untrained people to help you understand every facet of a technique.

My mentality has always, always been that martial arts is a self-defence tool, and I’ve always trained as such. In terms of skills training, I’ve tried to cultivate a tight but effective collection of tools which I then train in applying to a variety of circumstances. This is mostly “mindset” training and has helped me realize that “self-defence” is not a “style”, but instead a way of thinking. I work security in the roughest part of my city and this has allowed me to get out of some very sticky situations.

In terms of physical training, I basically focus on what you mentioned the military does in that article; I train for speed, power and explosive strength in the lower body (with some endurance work), while the upper body is mostly strength and power endurance.



Excellent quote, don’t be a stranger.


Thought for the day: Quotes from the book “Warrior Ethos” by Steven Pressfield. If you are unfamiliar with his work, take time to check him out.

Most ancient warrior cultures were embedded in a warrior society. The Western military is a warrior culture embedded in a civilian society.

So the values of the warrior culture or often not shared by society. And often even opposed.

Civilian society praises individual freedom. The warrior culture depends on cohesion.

Civilian society rewards wealth and celebrity. The warrior culture prizes honour.

Aggression is valued in the warrior culture. In civilian life you can go to jail.

A warrior culture trains for adversity. The goals of the civilian life are comfort and luxury.

Selflessness is one of the highest virtues of the warrior culture. Civilian society often acts as selfishly as it can.

This leads to conflict between the two.

So….Is the Warrior Ethos without value in civilian life? Far from it! Many of the values will help you in civilian life as well. The war is the same. Only the location has changed.

It will help you battle your Wars Inside as well. Be the best version of yourself. Fight negative internal enemies like jealousy, envy, greed, selfishness and use self-discipline to kill them.