T Nation

The Tactical Life


I’ve been doing a lot of deep research into ancient Sparta, beyond just their military prowess. What you posted above reminded me of that.


I’ll throw a little discussion topic into the mix:

I’ve been thinking a lot about preemptive action, threat distance and remaining assertive while trying to deescalate a situation.

On preemptive action; when do you feel it’s appropriate to take the initiative? Once multiple warning have been given? When you’re certain that a threat exists (but hasn’t yet manifested)?

Perhaps it’s once someone’s entered that “threat distance”? Let’s say you’re dealing with a particularly lippy subject, and you’ve told him multiple times to calm down and back off. He’s trying to push your buttons, and after a while he steps within your comfortable “threat distance” (within extended arm’s reach, as an example). Do you act then?

I’m interested in how some of you guys deal with those situations. Especially guys like @JMaier31 and @twojarslave.


I have to operate with three things in mind:

  • opportunity
  • ability
  • intent

Once those three things are satisfied then it’s go time. I don’t need to wait any longer.

Do they have the intent to harm me or another? Well, that’s a judgment call. Pacing around and clenching the fists tells me you’re thinking about it. That’s enough intent to put me on alert.

Do they have the ability to harm me or another? If it’s an adult who’s mobile then the answer is yes.

Lastly, do they have the opportunity. Opportunity is a big one. Just like you said, distance is a big factor. If the person is 15 feet away and pacing around then they don’t quite have their opportunity but they have my attention.

If I’m on the scene of a call and I’m even close to having PC for an arrest then we might go ahead and deal with the person before they talk themselves into being stupid. Making a quick decision to put them in handcuffs and remove them from the scene (put them in a car) can throw their thought process off and prevent them from figuring out a plan.

If they have met all three of my criteria then it’s time to act. I don’t wait any longer. There’s no point. And believe it or not, I can remove the handcuffs and release a person once we’ve sorted it all out.

If someone is amped up and causing me to watch them constantly then they’re a distraction. Distractions can be dangerous. I can justify legally detaining them as stated above to bring my scene under control.

Officers can’t afford to be reactive on a scene. If we detect a threat then it’s better for everyone - even the bad guy - to deal with it preemptively.


That’s a great trinity. Lots of good stuff in everything you said. Thanks for giving your two-cents!


@jmaier gave a good general primer on the nuanced nature of force escalation. For even more detail, I recommend reading some of Massad Ayoob’s books. He goes into greater detail about the trifecta of tests (although he uses the term jeopardy instead of intent, same idea though). Deadly Force - Understanding Your Right To Self Defense is the most current and I haven’t read it, but I’ve read several of his earlier books on the subject. He’s a good writer and a subject matter expert worth listening to.

Regarding your questions in a bouncer/bar security setting, there are a few scenarios I’ve dealt with. The most basic use of preemptive force is when someone refuses to leave after the staff has asked. I sometimes use deception to get them outside. “Hey, is your name Johnny Asshole? There’s this blonde chick outside asking for you.” Once they get outside just bar re-entry and have the conversation.

That only works if they’re not running a tab and are receptive to the tactic. If deception fails, next up is a straightforward and polite discussion. “I’m asking you to please to set the drink down and leave the property. It’s no big deal, we’ve all been drunk before. We just need for you to go now. I’ll be cool if you are.” At that point I have a roughly one minute timer that kicks off where I give them an opportunity to process the information and realize I mean business. I may let it go a little bit longer if they seem like they’re about to leave on their own, but you can usually tell right away how it’s going to go.

If I have to put hands on someone to move them out the door, the formula is simple. Get behind them if I can, grab a tricep if that’s not an immediate option. This opens up every option I need. Getting behind them allows gentle nudging them in the direction of the door, a side clinch, several takedowns, picking them up with double-underhooks to just carry them out and even a rear naked choke. Tricep grab already has one arm controlled and I can post on their other arm if needed, go to a Russian Tie or drag the arm and take the back. No need to harm anyone if I stick to those options, and how it goes depends on what they do when I make contact.

On to some of your specific questions (again, offering a bouncing context, my answers would vary a bit if I’m just a dude minding my own business).

Nope. Threats exist everywhere and one of the biggest threats I’m worried about as a bouncer are lawyers.

Not for me, not on the job. I’m in prayer position and discussion mode at that point, if this is taking place outside. If I’m inside I will make contact, but only to move them out the door (see tactics above).

Encounters like that happen outside at the door all the time, at least once or twice a month, usually after someone just got cut off. Sometimes a few in one shift. I stay cool and ready to act. Right now I’d say 90 percent or more of those encounters have ended without violence aside from whatever it took to get them out the door.

Without yelling? Hell no.

Without many insults being hurled my way? I wish, but no.

Without being verbally challenged and threatened with the worst ass-beating I’d ever get? Again, no. I get threatened frequently.

Would I have had cases where I’d be justified in putting my hands on a guy who’s telling me he’s going to beat my ass? Eh, probably. But I’ve gotten good at reading people and dealing with social violence, and your typical drunk guy at the bar who’s yelling that he wants to fight the bouncer doesn’t REALLY want to fight the bouncer. He just wants to look tough in front of his buddies or his girl and act like he’s in control of the situation. I don’t really care what they think about me, so they can spout off to their heart’s content. The regulars know and respect me, which are the only customer opinions that matter at all to me. The cops are usually on their way at that point, all I need to do is wait it out and stay on-guard.

The guys who want to fight, do. Once aggressive contact is made, the whistle has blown and it’s on. Even then, I’m looking to use the least possible force. I’ve yet to come across a capable fighter in bouncing situations. It’s like manhandling children for me at this point.


Fantastic. Thanks for the response. You and J were two guys specifically that I wanted to hear from, because you both sit on either side of a weird spectrum that I operate at.

I work security in a mall that’s the drug/gang hub of the entire city. We’re basically expected to do a large part of what cops do, but without the tools or back-up to support us (I get a stab-resistant vest and handcuffs, but that’s it). So I’m often having to deal with, arrest or issue trespass notices to some really sketchy mofos.

Luckily, I’ve only been wholloped once, because I do my best to verbally deescalate 99% of the time. But I still know that someday some crackhead is gonna lose his marbles mid conversation, so I’m always aware of distancing and surroundings.


Thought for the day: Know the difference and train accordingly.



The Sunday Comics:





I need that last one for work, haha.


Motivational Monday:

Train because your life depends on it. Train because the lives of your loved ones depend on it. Train because you want to, because it is your passion, because it is your job. Just find a way to train and do it often. Train hard. Train purposefully. Train to survive. Train to win.



Thought for the day: Learn from those who died before you.

My comments concerning this heinous crime is in no way a criticism of the parents, who were brutally murdered by this psychotic predator. I am sure they would have done anything to protect their child from being kidnapped. I believe lessons can be learned from this tragedy. Just like all after action reports, something is learned from each and every situation. Once again, no criticism is directed toward the parents.

"On his drive to the cheese factory on one of the two mornings he worked there, he had stopped behind a school bus on U.S. Hwy. 8 where he watched [Jayme] get on a school bus" near her home, the complaint reads. "The defendant stated he had no idea who she was nor did he know who lived at the house or how many people lived at the house. The defendant stated when he saw [Jayme] he knew that was the girl he was going to take."

This is the great unknown variable in predators. What triggers them? I don’t know and getting inside the mind of a psychotic is beyond my education level and frankly, I don’t care, I just want them dead. Saying that, this is a clear warning to all parents, your children are and always will be targets. Train them in situational awareness the best you can. Make them aware of every environment they are in on a daily basis. I know this would not have done any good here, but, it may make a difference in another situation.

Patterson claimed that James Closs apparently mistook him for a police officer because he asked him to "show me your badge," according to the complaint. He said he fired through a small decorative glass window James Closs was looking out of, hitting the man, the complaint reads.

where is the phone? 911? Being able to think clearly in a stressful situation was the key here. I understand that average citizens do not respond the way a trained professional will, but, with the mass deluge of media, no one should be under a rock when it comes to home invasions, active shooters and killers. Have a plan of some type to protect your family. Learn a little basic tactics, you don’t have to be a Tier-1 to learn to save yourself if you know there is danger.

Jayme told investigators that when Patterson began to pound on the front door of their home and yell at her father when he refused to open the door, she and her mother, Denise Closs, barricaded themselves in the bathroom and hid in the bathtub, according to the complaint.

If you feel threaten to the point of barricading yourself in the bathroom, that takes time, call 911 immediately, you can do that while you are running, you don’t have to say anything, just leave the line open. Were there no means of self protection in the house? Weapons, dogs?

Patterson told investigators he searched the house for Jayme and broke down the bathroom door when he found it locked and barricaded from the inside, according to the complaint. He ripped down the bathroom curtain and found Jayme and her mother hiding in the bathtub

Patterson claimed that when Denise Closs struggled to tape her daughter’s mouth, he put down his shotgun, took the roll of black Gorilla brand duct tape from her and completed the task himself, wrapping the tape over Jayme’s mouth and completely around her head, according to the complaint.

Read that again, “he put down the shotgun”. I know true terror can render the most mature person catatonic for several seconds, but, you should know that in moments such as these, you must take any opportunity to attack. The shotgun was the most immediate threat, once it was out of his hands, you must react, you must fight with everything you have. Have no training? No excuse. You have fear, fury, and your child by your side, die fighting.

Patterson then picked up the shotgun, aimed it at Denise Closs’ head and pulled the trigger, according to the complaint.

“Picked up the shotgun”, This woman was brutally murdered by a fucking coward, never once realizing that her life and her child’s life depended on some type of response. Each and every one of us could face this situation, we must have a plan somewhere in our subconscious to allow us to respond. Remember self-defense is a human right, but only we have the preparation to act. You must fully embrace the reality of the world, this is the first step to direct action.

Patterson told investigators he was at the Closs home for about four minutes.

Read that again, think about that statement. “In the house for four minutes”. For the trained CQB, 4 minutes is a long time to clear a house, but, to a civilian? 4 minutes is nothing, no time to mentally or physically prepare, no time to respond at all. The average response time for most city PD’s is 3 to 5 minutes, and that’s it everything goes right.

Here is another example, three years ago, I went in debt for some property in a very rural county, in a very rural state. I went to the county sheriff’s office and met with the sheriff, since, I would be doing some training on the property, I wanted to check in and let him know, that when I was there, shooting would occur. He was honest about his agency, stating he was severely undermanned and the average response time outside their county seat, was around 20 to 30 minutes. So, when I am there, I consider myself on my own and plan for it. Do not allow 911 to be your dominant response to any threat.


1. Have a plan for of lethal violence. Even if you are vehemently opposed to guns and will never have one in your home, there are other means to at least mount some type of attack. Even the strictest gun control cities or states still allow you to have a baseball bat in your home. I would suggest an aluminum bat, they are light, easy to find, and generate serious velocity. As Patterson came through the bathroom door, he should have met a bat to the head. Anything to break his intent: firing a fire extinguisher into his eyes, pepper spray, a framing hammer, hell, go to a sporting goods store and buy yourself a decent hatchet, one of the greatest close quarter weapons designed. Have something to defend yourself with. Anything.

2. Location: from my experience and especially my years belonging to the NTOA, and studying their after action reports, there is no “safe place”. I once went to a sniping school in Iowa, it was my first time in the state, and, I was amazed at the vast amount of rural farmland. The problem? You live on those farms, you are isolated. Just because you live in a rural area means nothing now, in fact, it makes you a more inviting target. We once traced a domestic terrorist to a rural area of Utah, population about 150 and he had been living in the area for several years.

3. When I was assigned to diplomatic security we had four areas that had to be covered on each and every run:

a. Communications. Comms save your life and they are just as important in your home.

b. Weapons: self-explanatory. Have something if you choose not to train with firearms.

c. Transportation: You may need to evacuate your family. Have a kit in your vehicle, I have written about it before. Always keep the maintenance up on your vehicle and for fuck’s sake, never get into a vehicle in an emergency situation and be low on fuel. Keep at least a half a tank in all vehicles. I used to know this person that would only get gas when the “fuel light” came on. Stupid.

d. Backup: On diplomatic missions we had a military QRF for backup, in LEO work , an army of cops to call. In your home you have yourself and your family members. Talk to each one, outline a plan, both offensive and defensive. Yes, 911 is a backup, but, remember the word ”backup” , because when you call the shit is either going down or has already happened. Become your on backup.

Just some thoughts. What say you?



All great stuff, man. It’s hard to get people to remove the paranoia from preparedness sometimes, because it’s easy to think, “Well, that kind of stuff could never happen to me.” Stories like this help illustrate that it can happen to anyone.


Great read Idaho! Just read it aloud to my wife and son. We live in a rural area and I preach it to my family, friends, and neighbors. I have in-service training all week and plan to share with my colleagues. Appreciate your insight.

kdjohn is spot on, people do think, “Well, that kind of stuff could never happen to me.”

Now I have to go fuel my wife’s SUV, per her request! Sometimes it takes someone else to say it, but that’s ok, as long as it sinks in.


About 3 days ago in the UK there were 3 stabbings - all of them fatal. Knife crime here is ridiculous at the moment and I want some of your guys perspective on how to best handle knives.

I know being aware is a good first step, assessing people as you go by, who should be here, who shouldn’t etc., and not being in the wrong place is a problem solver.

I guess some of it comes down to their intent, like someone was saying earlier. If they want to look tough and mouth off, let them, but if they want to kill you then that’s a totally different game. In that scenario I guess it’s about grabbing the weapon hand and just smash/gouge/rip/bite whatever I can get a hold of? I train a bit of krav and we’ve been doing knife stuff and in training it seems to work, but training is training and life is life.

Anyway, appreciate everyone’s thoughts and time


Thank you.


Thank you and I hope you and your family found something useful.


I have trained in Kali on and off for years. IMHO, 95% of all defensive knife techniques are pure bullshit. They are complicated and do not work in a dynamic attack, everything works in the training hall and virtually nothing does on the street.

  1. Distance is your greatest asset in a knife fight, hopefully, gaining enough space to run away. If forced in a situation where you cannot create distance:

2.Know that you will get cut, period. Know that direct action is always faster than reaction, so, don’t think you are going to take a knife away from someone by"catching their hand"

  1. Try to “blade the chest” , you must not have your heart and lungs in a direct line of thrust. Most trained knife fighters will do a"fake slash" and then close the distance for a direct thrust.

  2. Serious students of the blade will kill you quick, that is why distance is so important. Even if you “trap” the knife hand or arm, you still have to indict damage to stop the attack and that will be a bitch if they are carrying another blade in their other hand.

  3. From my limited experience with RMA,( reality martial arts) I consider it to have the "best ": defensive training, however, finding an instructor is rare.

  4. If you are unable to escape, you must close the distance and attack the fighter or he will just cut you up from his position. Try to scan for any thing that can be used as a weapon in your immediate environment. Use you forearms to take the slashes and with attack elbows, fists, or whatever you can pick up: rocks, wood, tools, bar chair, anything to buy you some striking power. Look, there are no absolute ways of surviving a knife fight without superior weapons. Use whatever you can to survive.

I know this is not much, but, being aware is your best weapon. Here is another opinion:


Thought for the day: To follow up on what I posted last week about one handed shooting. Once again, if you are neglecting this part of your training, you will pay a serious price in a real gunfight. Most individuals cannot shoot one handed worth a crap, drop you ego and train.

From Lead Faucet Tactical:

Gunfighting is also about contingencies not just how fast you can draw and shoot !!!

What would you do if you where ever down to one arm, and behind half ass cover ?


I’ll basically echo what @idaho said regarding knife defence: most of the “techniques” are bullshit and overly complicated.

My hapkido and BJJ training gave me a false sense of security when it came to weapons defence. It wasn’t until I started training with my Silat coach that I realized how fucking dangerous and scary knives are — especially in the hands of a trained user.

He instilled in me some important lessons regarding weapons: Firstly, if you can’t go “all out”, then go “all in”. Basically, your first and only option should be to get the fuck out of the situation, no matter how trained you are. It’s just not worth it. If that isn’t an option, then go “all in” and fight like a wild beast to get out with as little harm as possible; there’s no fair play in knife fighting, so do what you have to do.

Secondly, if someone wants to harm you with a knife, you won’t see it. If someone pulls a knife and is waiving it around, it’s being used as an intimidation tactic. Doesn’t mean they won’t use it if they feel threatened enough, but your best bet when you can see the weapon is verbal deescalation and using your eyes to plan an escape. Don’t try to be a hero and engage. I have people pulling blades or needles regularly at my job, and even with my training and stab vest, I never try to take them down.

Lastly, remember that knives are a short ranged weapon. This is very crucial to remember, because it means with proper distance you can literally save your life. This distance is ideally created simply through your positioning, ie escaping (going “all out”). It can also be created through improvised weapons that have a longer reach than a blade (wooden plank, stick, pipe, chair, umbrella, etc etc).

I could go on, but I think that’s good for now.


Thanks. That’s basically what I thought - RUN! Although hill sprints don’t feel like your friend at the time, they are most certainly your friend.

I don’t believe in a lot of those, alright any, knife disarms I’ve seen. They all look very dangerous and there’s no way I (or anyone) could ever pull them off. This video really opened my eyes as to how knives work, and have trained this scenario since. Catch the arm (after getting stabbed once or twice…) and then try to control it and smash it, smash the face/throat etc. The logic makes sense to me, but if I’m in this situation then I have royally messed up somewhere.