Should Gun Owners Study Martial Arts?

Should Gun Owners Study Martial Arts?
Should Gun Owners Study Martial Arts?

Years ago, I was spending time with well-known firearms instructor Massad Ayoob. Since he’s been in the shooting business for more than 40 years, I asked him, “What’s one thing you wish you’d known or done when you first started out?”

To my surprise, he said he wished he’d started studying the martial arts and hand-to-hand self-defense a lot sooner than he did.

And, actually, I can say the same thing. When I was with the Agency, we spent a heck of a lot more time doing firearms training than training with a knife or empty hand defense. And when I left the Agency, I continued the firearms training but didn’t spend the amount of time I should of studying the martial arts.

After all, I try and carry my gun with me every time I leave my house, but there are places I go that I can’t bring it, such as the post office. And, in two weeks I’ll be teaching a course in Los Angeles where I won’t be able to carry my gun at all.

The fact is, as much as I love guns, when it comes to personal protection I believe in being as well-rounded as possible in case I find myself in a life or death situation and I don’t have my gun.

Plus, even if I do have my gun with me, martial arts training teaches you how to move properly (to help you get off the X quicker), and it also teaches you how to fight in close quarters situations so you can adequately defend yourself against an attacker while you draw your gun.

This is why I currently study the Filipino martial arts, but there are plenty of other choices to study too, including Krav Maga. If you do a simple Internet search, I’m sure you’ll find lots of places around your home where you could get training (you’ll be amazed what you’ll be able to do with an edged weapon or even empty-handed after having some of this training.)

Another important thing to consider is that you don’t have to be a ninja or in the best shape of your life to train in the martial arts. I’ve talked to a lot of people who seem intimidated by going out to this type of training, but you’ll find people from all walks of life in most places you visit. And of course, if you try a place and it’s a little too “Rambo-ish” or the people are jerks then just try somewhere else.

When bad things happen, you want to have as many options as you can to protect yourself. So even though I’ve got my gun on me anytime I legally can, I still want to know as many methods as possible to protect myself and my family.

So if you’ve ever thought about training in a martial art, look up a place near you today, and make it a goal to attend a class next week.

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Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and author of The Covert Guide to Concealed Carry. He is also the creator of the Ultimate Concealed Carry Experience, which allows you to take your concealed carry training without leaving home. For full details about this training, please visit Concealed Carry Academy. You can also follow him on Google+ and Twitter.
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Jeff Coder

I’ve studied martial arts off and on for about 30 years. I think martial arts and firearms training go hand in hand. Some of the subtleties of martial arts is that it makes you more aware of your surroundings so you can be proactive instead of reactive. Secondly (and this is really important) sometimes a situation arises when you don’t need a firearm (or shouldn’t use it) to resolve a problem. Training in martial arts gives you the ability to deal with that kind of threat or situation. If all you have is a gun (HAMMER) then every problem you face is a nail! Martial arts gives you more options without having to kill someone in every potential situation. It might keep you out of jail too!

Joseph Williams

I agree whole-heartedly that everyone – but especially gun owner – should study martial arts. I wasn’t quite 12 years old when I started taking martial arts. I grew up in NYC and was lucky enough to find a school in 1964 that taught Judo and Karate. I found another style of Karate and eventually Kung Fu. While I had much older brothers “introduce” me to rifles and hunting, and as a teenager in NYC, a “friend” taught me how to make a “zip gun,” I didn’t take a real interest in firearms until I went into the Army.

As a martial artist, one interesting philosophy I came across (and yes, I had it myself as this was “passed down” by some of many instructors) was the hatred of firearms among martial artists. After researching this quirk, I discovered it was born of the fact that “any fool can pull a trigger” (Enter the Dragon) and more specifically, years of dedicated, disciplined practice can defeated by an untrained criminal with a firearm.

When I became a martial arts instructor and later, a firearms instructor, I used a simple fact of history to make firearms more acceptable to my students and anyone else that would listen. When you look at the vast array of martial arts weaponry, it is truly breath-taking and many ore strokes of genius. One thing that stands out? Each martial arts weapon created was the “assault weapon” of its time. Firearms are merely the latest in the evolution of martial weaponry.

Finally, as for what arts people should study, I suggest going to defensive tactics classes that specifically address knife defense. I have a four levels of knife defense classes, a hand-gun retention and disarm class, and tradition martial arts classes. The knife and FR&D classes are pretty obvious, but you should really make sure your chosen instructor knows about real knife fighting and also knows about firearm mechanics; not just how to shoot. He/she should know that, as well. The purpose of taking a traditional martial art long term is both to increase your tool bag of self-defense, getting off the “x” as addressed in this article, overall health, allow your body to move as it needs to over the longer term of your life. there’s much more you’ll get from a knowledgeable instructor, but I’ll let you discover that for yourself.


Personally, they are two different subjects. The personal handgun is for meeting threat-with-threat. If the assailant can “beet me to a pulp”, has a knife, or has a gun, no amount of martial arts training will beat the bullet.

In terms of a “street fight”, where a personal handgun has “no reason” to be introduced–then yes, a martial arts class would be appropriate!

You cannot introduce your handgun if its an “even” match, so the whole topic is kind of moot–designed to get a reaction and responses from readers. I’m surprised this well-known author brought up this question-he knows better! In his article he states he knows better-perhaps a better title for the article would be appropriate.


I have been shooting regularly and studying martial arts for going on thirty years. I look at self defense as a toolbox. A firearm is a tool, knives, impact weapons, martial arts and a can of mace are other tools. I prefer to have as many tools in my tool box as I can, it’s as simple as that. More tools = more options.

Joshua Speer

Actually one of the motivations for having a CCW is because I don’t think my back would hold up for a fight.


Yes. Overweight, bad knees, and 65+ but I still train twice per week. A good club will help you stay within your physical limitations and still get a good workout and learn what you need to know. My instructors are either gun owners or open minded enough to spend a day at the range with me. If you are ever attacked when you aren’t aware (shame on you for not being aware) you better know how to create distance and time. As others said, sometimes you don’t have a gun – or a palm stick, or a tactical pen, or a tactical flashlight, or OC, or … Besides, it’s funny as hell watching the police interview the 19 year old who is bleeding profusely from his head and mouth after attacking the old fat guy.


I studied martial arts before I became a gun enthusiast. In the not so great state of New York (and I’m upstate NY, 4 hours away from NYC) it’s difficult and expensive to get a pistol permit. As for getting a CCW, good luck. So for me Okinawa Goju Ryu is a great way for me to be able to defend myself and family. After all it’s not like Cuomo has the ability to make having arms, legs and a brain illegal (although he might try).


Most assuredly, gun owners should have some kind of hand to hand combat training. It’s the second line of defense, after trying to walk away. Studied Kenpo since 1980, and it’s a valuable weapon in one’s personal army.


Yes, but for this context, not the Art, not for sport, and not for fitness. Training can start by watching the National Geographic Channel if you don’t have the time or desire to spend years in a belt scheme giving you a transparent, ineffective bravado in application. The Principles that animals demonstrate in survival is where the fighting arts are rooted and have been muddled in commerce. If you need an “art”, pick up painting. If you want to survive a violent encounter, get to the head, control it, and shut it down.

Finding the techniques for you to get that done is your job. Then train until you are as prepared (calm) as Captain “Sully” landing a Boeing in a river. Being the “feared” man in the room, should always be done quietly due to competence, with or without a gun. – QUIET PRIDE(tm).


I have four decades worth of transparent, ineffective bravado (and a whole display case full of awards, citations, and belts…the most recent being a 4th Degree Black) that I would be more than happy to demonstrate on/for you. Control the head, the body will follow…yes, that’s true. But the head isn’t where the danger is, now is it? Put a bad guy in a headlock…can he still pull a trigger? Stab you with a knife? Hit you in the head with a Nat Geo TV program? That training method is fine if you plan on taking down a gazelle for dinner. Seriously…get off your couch, go to a dojo or gym, and learn how to PROPERLY take control of bad situations….with or without a gun.


Good Day
I live in a middle class urban Area it has it’s perks of violence shootouts
It doesn’t intimidate me because I’m safe at home what happens out doors stays outdoors I am a 4th Degree Black belt Japanese Goju-Ryu Karate-Do I started at 18 years old I am 46 years old grow up in the Bronx 138 st brook ave were crime was intense 1974-1985 you could image I learned CQB to defend my self from any miss Haps it’s easy to injure some one in 3 seconds any techniques .. you apply if your getting shot at that’s another question you can’t deflect a bullet
I’m A protective executive officer
It’s not being quick on your Draw but accurate timing carrying a gun is just a heavy burden .but if your responsible it has it’s perks
I m always calling 911 let them Handle it ..I’m not a hired gun mind over matter


Hello MRDeadhead: JKD/Krav/Muay/Panatukan/TKD/Kali/MOSS MOUSE training over 3 decades has shown me how to simplify what works, in context as posted. Principles are the point, over technique. Changing your mindset from prey to predator and going offensive, knowing your targets, and hitting them with everything you have is proven effective. Prisons are littered with deadly felons who successfully applied principles over technique with deadly effectiveness, and no training. Further, the physiological response of the human body to a lethal encounter greatly dictates what you will even be capable of doing. Weapons are tools. You may get cut, you may get shot, but pulling the plug on the power source (head) will greatly increase your chance to stay alive. QP.


The question is whether to be one dimensional in your self defense skills. The situations that could be faced in a self defense situation are limitless. To pull a firearm in a non life threatening situation could get you into trouble with the law. Likewise, facing a firearm, knife, or club barehanded, even with the proper training in disarming the aggressor, could be a dicey situation. Having many self defense tools in your toolbelt is a natural extension of why people opt for firearms training. Be selective in choosing what unarmed self defense training you undertake. Many martial arts are more art than martial and teach maneuvers which really do not apply to self defense combat. The author suggested Krav Maga as a possibility. I would agree with that.

Sir TuberKopf

There is a reason Nazi soldiers trained to fire with a pistol held close to their belt. It was incredibly difficult to disarm them without getting shot. There are more modern firing stances where a gun is held close to the body to protect you from being disarmed.

Practice practice practice!

It is still an excellent idea to be trained on how to disarm another attacker. It teaches you how to resist, and t may come in handy.


I’m familiar with the modern firing stance you are referring to, it seems to have been adopted to teach the masses. It does have some advantages if a failure to fire occurs. But considering that most shootings take place within ten feet, I’m not so sold on its effectiveness in keeping you from being disarmed. Run an experiment, with an unloaded firearm held close to the body in the two handed method you mentioned. Have someone grab the barrel and attempt to move it side to side. You’ll notice that they can overpower your wrist strength quite easily in that position. Now move to a fully extended two handed low ready position and have them repeat the barrel grab. You’ll notice that they are unable to move the barrel as easily as you can exert more strength in your grip. Keeping from being disarmed relies more on reaction and body movement than in firearm position. .


Martial arts has nothing to do with H2H combatives or survival. Self defense has nothing to do with sports, competition, belts , ranks etc….

Self defense if that’s what you are looking for is a complex of cognitive response , adaptability, understanding the primary dangers, possessing some tools that may or may not work in physical altercation scenario, understanding the psychological impact on the physiological response….

Oh ye and proper training that can simulate “realistic” environment.

“We don’t rise to level of our expectation, we fall to the level of our training”

Combatives is not designed to succeed or have a perfect “movement” the more times you fail in training the better your chances to survive out on the streets.

The biggest problem with “martial arts/self defense” is that the mind set is to help you to succeed to get to the next belt. Also it’s a n industry to make money .

Paul Plotkin
Meron Group


That depends greatly on which style you study. If you are referring to the strip-mall “dojos”, you are probably correct. In the style I study, we are not allowed to go to tournaments. There are no trophies, no plaques, no ribbons, no fancy uniforms–just simple white cotton gi. Individual instructors–even some with 30 years of experience–are not allowed to give promotions. Only the master of the style can do that. We don’t take “tests” to move up in rank…the master decides when it is time for that. So, we also have nothing to do with sports or competitions. Rank is simply a matter of learning–not of money. Don’t pre-judge–not all styles are the same.

OD Clark

I was involved in personal defense, karate, restraint holds, counter-terrorism, counter-measures, etc., at a young age. Now at 60 years old I have picked it back up from the beginning. It is great remembering muscle memory, how it works, reaction time, etc., because I had forgotten it over the years. How great it is to relearn something that you knew and must learn once again? It is amazing how much is retained in long-term memory. I strongly encourage that all persons that choose to carry a firearm legally to consider taking a concealed carry course that offers some type of training in violence confrontation, hand-to-hand combat, escape tactics, multiple attackers, etc. Shooting someone in self-defense should always be a weapon of last resort. Use the greatest tool you have – your mind. And if that doesn’t work, escape is not an option and their is no other choice (usually this process takes milliseconds because you are aware and prepared) then put two in the chest and one in the head. By the way, I am training for my green belt testing next week!