If you “Google” self defense in your given city, you’re probably going to see a list of martial arts schools. Rarely will you see a school that blends unarmed and armed tactics with a firearm. I know you can get training at a dojo for nunchaku, swords, etc. But those are not things you are going to use for self defense in everyday life. For instance, here in Findlay, Ohio we recently had an elderly lady robbed at gunpoint in the Texas Roadhouse parking lot. What are the chances she could have used a martial arts weapon for self defense; next to zero. Luckily, her assailant was not interested in doing her harm, just in making off with her money. That’s not always the case as you well know if you read much on current events or have read the “MY Story” page on my website.
The truth of the matter is that to be realistic, you have to train to absolutely minimize the time you are engaged with your assailant. You have to quickly escape, or quickly stop them if running away is not possible. Posing up into a horse stance, ready to serve them the good news is going to do little to help you if they have a gun or knife and have already decided they are willing to hurt or kill you for what they want. How many times have you read of someone using taekwondo to fend off an armed home invasion? It probably doesn’t happen. When someone comes at you, confronts you with a knife or gun or enters your home in the middle of the night, the last thing you want to do is get in close and mix it up with them and see who comes out on top. First of all, if it really is a robbery, they rarely work alone. So while you are going at it with pillar of the community number one, their friend is going to flank you, stab you, maybe pick up your kid to get you to comply. Forget it, this isn’t the movies!
I’m not saying you will not need to know an unarmed technique, but learning a martial art is technical, takes a lot of time to master, requires a lot of thinking (I’ll explain this later) to evaluate the situation to select the correct maneuver, and requires you to get in close to the threat to be successful. If they have a gun, your mastery of the art is absolutely useless. You will need to learn some unarmed tactics because there may be a situation that you need to buy yourself some time to produce your weapon because they are at arm’s length and could be on you if you tried to just draw. They may also come up from behind and surprise you, again requiring some sort of hand to hand method of freeing yourself to escape or produce the weapon. But, that is it. Under no circumstances should you rely on unarmed self defense as your sole method of survival. There is always someone bigger, better, and more than likely they will have the element of surprise.
What you have to focus on is a method to quickly and efficiently allow you to escape or create that little bit of time you need to pull your gun out and stop the attack. The whole point is to stop them from being able to cause serious bodily harm or death. If you can do that by getting away, you should. But if you can’t get away or need to protect someone else such as your child, you have to ensure that you can stop them and that is best done with the use of something that can stop them in the least amount of time; a firearm.
Using a firearm for self defense is a simple thing. You point it at the bad guy and pull the trigger. It’s simple, not easy. Among the many psychological issues at hand with the use of the gun is the simple fact that when threatened with immediate lethal violence your brain function changes dramatically. A part of our brain called the Amygdala takes over and the thinking part of your brain is just along for the ride. I will give much more in-depth information on the function of the Amygdala and how it pertains to
self defense in future articles.
The amygdala is responsible for fight or flight performance and it’s because of this you will sometimes see things in slow motion when you are extremely afraid. The reality is that you are moving and reacting at full speed with whatever knowledge or training you have stored on the synapses controlled by the amygdala. Your frontal lobes and visual cortex, which are responsible for your reasoning and cognitive visual perception, are much slower than the amygdala (about twelve hundredths of a second). So if you have based your self defense solution on something complex that requires much practice and years of precision decision making to engrain this system into your mind, you’ll probably never get around to realizing what your first step should be until well after the attack has started. This is why you must understand what it is neurologically, psychologically and physiologically that you will go through when attacked to fully understand what effective training is.
This concept has been well established in elite military training for more than a decade and is why there is not much time spent in broad martial arts training, but much time is spent utilizing specific training methods that are effectively used by the amygdalaic response in the brain to protect the individual. Much of this training is not yet available outside the military except that some law enforcement departments with good funding have been able to receive this specialized training through contractors such as Close Quarters Defense, the former Blackwater USA and similar programs that offer this as protected, select training. The irony of this is that it’s not really all that special.
It’s simply involves;
- Streamlining a self defense response to basic moves and tactics that minimize fine motor skill involvement (because they quickly deteriorate under high stress);
- Reducing, as much as possible, all physical variables in technique, stance, grip, etc. that effect weapon performance because of adrenaline overload, and;
- Exploiting the fact that your attacker probably has no clue of any of these things and most definitely is counting on you to panic and not be prepared to launch a counterattack. In short, exploiting that his/her amygdala is also in control and has little to non-existent or flawed training to pull from.
These are the basics. There are very complex neural mechanisms at work when confronted by immediate violence. The irony is that these very complicated brain functions limit you when trying to effectively defend yourself if you have not established a response through training or, you have established an incorrect or flawed response known as a training scar or, you have not trained frequently enough to prevent loss of the training experience effectiveness because of a neural process called Hebbian plasticity.