Intermediate Weapons

Have you ever had a flat tire? It is pretty lousy, huh? No matter the kind of day we are having a flat tire always makes it worse. Thankfully a flat tire does not directly effect our engine performance, interior climate or comfort, radio, brake lights, etc. Even though the only thing effected is 25% of our tire ensemble the car becomes much less effective, almost worthless for transport. It is essentially taken it out of service, even if only temporarily.

Combat effectiveness can be defined in this context as: Any means or cause that provides one with an advantage in combat. The car has become less effective, without totally destroying it. Translate that analogy to a fight. If you break a guys hand, elbow, knee, or gouge an eye you have not destroyed the opponent, however, he has become much less effective in the fight. He cannot punch if his arm does not work, nor can he chase you if his knee bends the wrong way. Oh, and don’t forget breathing and eyesight, damage those and you have the upper hand!

If you damage more than one system, ie: eye, knee, and elbow, you have what is called compound trauma. This wreaks havoc on your opponent and gives you a marked advantage. Before we get carried away, let’s take a look at a few specific target points that can make one less effective in a fight.

  • Eyes – can’t see, can’t fight.
  • Throat – Can’t breathe, again, can’t fight.
  • Knee – Fairly fragile and hugely important, can’t walk on a knee that bends the wrong way.
  • Elbow – Like the knee but more fragile, bend it the wrong way and they can’t use their arm.
  • Hand – Break it and they can’t grip. That means no fist, knife, or gun for that hand.
  • Liver – I’ve seen guys black out over a good liver strike. It disrupts your system and your body does not like it.
  • Ears – Clap these bad boys hard and you cant stand up straight due to ruptured ear drums.

These are just a few of a long list of combat effective points on the human body. Some more effective than others, and some more potentially lethal than others. For example, punching someone in the throat is potentially lethal, whereas breaking an elbow is not likely to cause death. So, you need to understand the level of force you are using and apply it appropriately.

Pain. Pain is good, and can help you win a fight. But let me make one thing quite clear, pain is not sufficient to end most real fights. In fact someone who is under the influence of adrenaline, drugs, and/or alcohol is not likely to feel pain, and certainly not to the extent that you would like. That is precisely why you did not see a kick to the groin on the list above. While you can do some real damage to a fella this way, it is primarily pain. If however you lower that kick to the knee, he is likely to lose his immediate ability to walk. In a fight, your goal should be to prohibit the body’s ability to function, not inflict pain.

You can be combat effective without a gun. In a very large arsenal of tools a gun has a very important place, however, it is pretty limited in its use and ability. Hands/feet, sticks, pepper spray, contact weapons, etc. are all tools you can use to be highly combat effective. What is most important is that you learn and train. Then, you train and train some more. Never become complacent.

What can we learn?

  • You can be effective in combat or a fight without destroying your opponent entirely.
  • Learn the human body and what makes it work, then you will know how to shut it down.
  • Pain is not enough to end a fight,  you need to stop the body from working.
  • Know and understand what level of force you are using and apply it appropriately.
  • Never give up, and never stop learning

Stay Sharp,


Let’s run a quick hypothetical. I give you a bounce house and a good knife. Then I tell you that your life depends on getting it deflated in under a minute. You can use the knife, but on to stab no slicing or cutting. How would you deflate that huge thing in under a minute? Would you stab the same place over and over, or would you make as many holes as possible all over? Yeah, I thought so.

Now, take that same theory and apply it to self defense. If your life depending on “deflating”  a threat as fast as possible, why do we so concern ourselves with shooting such a tight group as to make on hole? Hmm, interesting. Let me offer a quick disclaimer here: I am not advocating you do not train to proficiency. I am advocating that you train to be good, real good, then maintain that same ability over time.

Let’s take a closer in depth look at compound trauma. We will use guns and gun shot wounds (GSW) for our mechanism of injury here. If you shoot a bad guy one time, he has one injury. If you shoot him 5 times in the same spot, he has one big wound. But, if you shoot him 5 times (in a 6-9 inch group) different spots, he has 5 wounds. If you are shooting the chest, that kind of group could cover the heart, and both lung,  and maybe even the liver.

If you are looking to do serious damage to somebody, this is how you will achieve it. If all 5 rounds went into one lung, he has a major problem. However, that is quite survivable and he can even stay in the fight if he is determined, or under the influence. If however, you get the lungs, heart, and or liver, he cannot breathe and will likely collapse in just a few seconds due to loss of blood. There is no amount of determination of drugs that will keep him in the fight. The body will fail to function and that will be that.

Are you starting to see the effectiveness of compound trauma? Moving beyond the physical effects of it, we can take a peek at the psychological effects of compound trauma. One wound is bad enough, but when you have several different wounds and you are feeling the different effects of them, panic and maybe even shock will set it. This is good for you. If he can become focused on himself and not you, he suddenly becomes less interested in the fight and a lot more concerned with staying alive.

If this happens to you, being the good guy, you need to stay calm and do not panic. Finish the fight or die trying. Then start treatment. You can’t stop in the middle of a fight because of injury, that only gives them further advantage. You must press on and finish the fight. Once done there, you can use the first aid training you received to dress your wounds and call for help. It is of paramount importance that you do not give up mentally. There have been many cases of someone with a would that should have killed them survive because they refused to succumb to the injury. Stay strong and stay in the fight!

Compound trauma is not a topic often talked about or discussed, but I think it is important for you to understand. Not only for you own benefit if you experience it but also for inflicting it to use against a threat. Not just with guns either. You can combine and mix any combination of weapons and tools to inflict compound trauma, that is the beauty of it.

What can we learn?

  • Many holes are more effective than one when it comes to injury.
  • The body will stop working faster with several injuries as opposed to one.
  • Compound trauma works fast to shut the body down and keep it from functioning.
  • Train to be good and stay there! 6-9″ groups are very combat effective on the torso.
  • Get first aid training…

Stay Sharp,


Every now and again, I find myself watching, and trying to enjoy a good action flick. Then it happens… The antagonist (bad guy) sees the protagonist (hero) from across a busy lobby area, full of people. He pulls his gun and begins to shoot our hero as he runs away. Hero then turns around and begins to fire back, all while there are dozens of terrified bystanders running around screaming.

Ok, yes, that is indeed a movie, however, with today’s violent society who is to say that cannot happen for real? As a matter fact it would not take long for me to produce a dozen such incidents that have indeed happened. A murderer opens fire on a large crowd of people. Put yourself in such a situation, for just a minute. How would you respond?

Shooting into a crowd is an incredibly dangerous and complicated process. The best hostage rescue teams in the world train every day for years on shooting around people they don’t intend to kill. How much time have you spent doing this?… Yeah, me either… Some operations, if time allows, the teams will create a replica of the area, and train for days, weeks, or even months on executing a specific rescue mission.

While hostage rescue is a little different, it is more simplistic than shooting at a dynamic (moving) target around a lot of other moving people… My point here is: The best in the world would not flippantly take a shot like this, think twice before you do…

Let’s go beyond the typical scope here, and look at no gun incidents. How can you defend yourself if a gun is not warranted? Well, a non-lethal approach is obviously needed. What are our options? Depending on where you live and the laws you have the following open to you:

  • Pepper spray
  • Electronic Control Device (stun gun)
  • Air Horn / Whistle
  • Hands

Any of these can be used to defend yourself. Given the situation, different tools will be more applicable or effective. An air horn or whistle is great to alert the police that are 40 yards away, but, in the middle of getting punched, I would recommend a more hands on approach…

Some basic hand to hand skills and techniques will go a long way. You do not have to be a master martial artist to defend yourself against some addict looking for a hit. The appropriate amount force, applied properly can be enough to save your skin.

We will take a look at pepper spray in-depth another time, but let’s look at it briefly here. Pepper spray comes in many forms, shapes, brands, concentrations, etc.. However, they are all aerosols and the contents atomize upon release. One thing you need to be aware of, if you release it, you may get some too; especially if you are in a small area (car, room, etc.).

Pepper spray has a great ability to temporally “blind” the threat and cause panic, pain, and disorientation. It also works on animals such as dogs.

One benefit to having people around and having to defend yourself in a crowded area is: witnesses! Others will be able to substantiate your account of what happened. This will help law enforcement with their investigation.

Defending yourself or others in a crowded environment is not where you want to be. It stinks, no two ways about it. So, we have to have a plan going in and be wise about it! Know what is legal in your area before hand, and prepare yourself accordingly. Train and equip for defending yourself, especially without a gun, in a crowded environment. Consider the options for tools, and employ them!

What can we learn?

  • Shooting into a crowd = terrible idea
  • Lethal force is not always available, nor a good idea.
  • We are liable for all that we do, be careful and wise with your strategy.
  • Don’t always assume a gun is the best option.

Stay Sharp



If someone grabs you just like this you need to: drop down, swing your right foot around, bring your left knee up, reach across with your right arm to the left side of their face, jerk it to the right while using your left hand to take their wallet. OK, that may be a little silly but, that is about right for some of the techniques I have encountered. Silly manifestations of a good idea gone awry.

Before we move on let’s take a minute to define and understand the difference between technique and techniques. When I say technique, I refer to the style, aptitude, and skill in a particular ability or skill set. For example: punching, kicking, knife defense, shooting, etc. These physical actions require a certain amount of knowledge, training, and ability. The more you know and the better you are able to apply the knowledge, the better your technique.

Techniques on the other hand are a set of moves that can be taught and learned quickly that allow one to counter or mitigate an attack. These are specific moves that require a specific action by another party to work. For example: If someone throws a right straight punch, there are several specific actions you can use to counter and attack. However, if it is a left punch, it won’t work… Are you starting to see the difference?

You see, the danger with techniques is that when something is not perfect on either side you get all confused and screwed up and the technique you are trying to apply doesn’t work. I am reminded of an old Andy Griffith episode where Barney keeps trying things with Andy, and Andy is “attacking him wrong” when Barney can’t seem to get it. Voice of experience speaking: when you try to apply a technique to someone who is not behaving just as you need, your thought process will get all jacked up and you will fumble through the movement and likely cause yourself to fail.

Please do not hear me saying that techniques are bad. I have obtained a vast repertoire of techniques over the years; however, I would not use most them in a fight. Why? In order for a technique to be effective the attack must be just so, you must have trained to an intense level for that technique. There are some though, that are responses to very common attacks that I have trained to high level in that I would use in a fight.

Techniques have their place in combat and training, however, I am a firm believer that technique will get you farther. If you know how to strike, take a hit, where to hit and when, you will be a phenomenal fighter. Once you understand and have mastered proper combat technique you will be able to react with remarkable speed, precision, and effectiveness.

Flexibility and adaptation of intentions is critical to survive a fight. In the military they have a saying: The best of plans won’t survive first contact. This means that no matter how much planning you do, when everything goes left, your plan will fall apart. If, however, you are prepared for a dynamic fight and ready and able to adapt your plan and attack, you are highly likely to win that fight…


What can we learn?

  • Techniques have their place, but you must use and train with caution
  • Technique takes a little longer to develop but, will take you farther than any techniques ever could
  • Learn and develop your technique over time. Start out with some basic a simple techniques and you will become well-rounded over time.
  • There is no substitute for training! No matter your approach, you must train!

Stay Sharp,


Ivan Pavlov was a popular Russian scientist in the late 1800’s through the early 1900’s; being awarded the Nobel prize in 1904. He began an experiment studying the salivary glands in dogs and how their saliva impacted the digestive process. Every time he would feed the dogs he would measure the saliva and perform other tests. His team began ringing a bell to signify feeding time before every feeding. After a short time the dogs began to associate the bell with food, after all, every time they heard the bell they got food. They discovered that when they rang the bell, the dogs’ salivary glands fired up, even without the presence of food.

The study produced not only the intended results, but it also produced one of the biggest psychological discoveries of the day, that is: Classical conditioning. We often refer to this as Pavlovian Response after it’s namesake. Classical Conditioning is one of two forms of learning, as we understand learning at this point. Classical conditioning is how we learn as a result of stimulus and actions. Operant Conditioning however is learning by consequences; for example we learn fire is hot shortly after we touch it…

We will focus on Classical Conditioning for the purpose of this writing. I can understand your confusion here. What in the world does saliva in dogs (gross) have to do with self-defense? Let me see if I can unpack this a little bit; but let’s back up a touch. We react to a lot of things, at all time, in everything we do. We have to act or react, and the point can even be made that reacting is an action, but I digress. In our reactions we have two categories: Good & Bad… When driving down the highway, and the semi on your left starts drifting into your lane you have to react right? Ok, so you have two ways to react: good or bad. Good: We carefully whip into the lane to our right away from the semi, and give the diver a polite but firm 10 second horn blow (we have strategically kept the lane to our right open in just such an emergency right?). Bad: We do not move, or worse move into the semi!

Why do we react in the way that we do in such situations? Well, there is a primal instinct to survive at play, but beyond that alone we have been conditioned to react in that way. In the example given above, you may react due to either/or/both Operant or Classical conditioning.

Classical conditioning for self-defense is important for several reasons, the biggest of these is: Survival stress reaction. During a survival stress situation, our brain goes into a primal mode and makes many actions and thought processes we take for granted difficult if not impossible. However, when we train ourselves to react to a situation we have conditioned ourselves to react without thinking about it. This may very well be the difference between life and death, or at least bodily injury.

This can be done with firearms, body, mind, and any other tools. This response takes is time, dedication, and proper practice and stimulus. If we want to train to draw our firearm the second a threat is presented, then we need to have a threat presented to us in a safe controlled manner. Yelling “threat” or “gun” to initiate a response is not going to get it alone. Auditory input is great; for example drawing to the sound of gunfire. However, you must incorporate visual stimuli into your training as well.

We can train ourselves to a Pavlovian response in a mind-boggling array of topics. What happens when you smell your favorite meal being cooked to perfection? Your mouth waters, you get hungry, and you just might smile. Why do we do this? Because we have been conditioned to know that smell is a sign of good things to come, in short order. Our body begins to prep itself for receiving food, in turn you get hungry(er). Congratulations, you have been conditioned!

Do not underestimate the power of your body and mind. I have made it a personal mission through my work at Strategic Defense Group to help you understand the awesome power and control we have through ourselves as given by our creator. Classical conditioning is an important facet of how we can overcome and survive.

What can we learn?

  • Ivan Pavlov put a name to something that has been designed into us from the dawn of time: Classical Conditioning
  • Classical conditioning is how we learn to react to stimuli.
  • Pavlovian response is important to self-defense due to how we react to survival stress situations
  • Take the time and effort to dedicated  training for Pavlovian response in some common self-defense areas ie: drawing your handgun from concealment.

Stay Sharp



Yeah… I said it! I’ll say it again too; Guns are not always the answer! Well, now that you are yelling at your screen let us take a quick walk through the park to cool off. We are walking through the park on a brisk evening, enjoying a display of lights just before Christmas. There are a lot of other people in the park all around us but, it is fairly secluded and peaceful in this section. Before you realize what is going on some punk jumps out from behind a well decorated pine tree.  He is not holding a weapon, you see both his hands and they are empty. He is making erroneous threats and saying he will beat you up and take your wallet if you don’t give it to him. He has not touched either us, he is about 6 feet away, and he is alone as far as far you can tell. There are two of us, we are both carrying guns, and there are a lot of people around including small children just on the other side of the bushes. What do you do!?

Hold up! Before you answer; think through the entirety of the scenario. Can you shoot him? We are both packing after all. What lethal threat has he presented to authorize you such action? If you see any, I missed it. Even if you are in a “stand your ground” state, justifying that shoot would be a stretch at best. If you are in a “duty to retreat” state, you must run away from the guy before you use lethal force, even if it is justified.

So, if I can’t shoot him, what can do? Now you are asking the right question. The answer: A lot! There are many options available to you that can be summarized in this phrase: Non-Lethal. Anything that is not likely to result in serious physical injury or death is on the table. Here is one I like: Pepper Spray. It is cheap, easy to obtain, effective, and easy enough to deploy a child can do it, and most importantly, it is not lethal.

This punk is a threat no doubt, he is threatening to beat us up and seems to be willing and capable of doing so, or at least trying. But he is not a lethal threat as described. That leaves us with a gun that we have trained with and a moment we have physically and mentally prepared for, and we can’t use the gun… The gun is not the answer here. Firearms are great for defense in the narrow field of lethal force. There are only a few triggers that allow for lethal force. In contrast however, there are a plethora of triggers for non lethal force.

Quick side note: Don’t hear me saying that you should stop thinking about your gun and training with it. Even though it may be a narrow field, lethal force is extremely serious and you should be proficient and ready to meet this force with your handgun. What I am saying is you need to prepare and be prepared for those encounters where the gun cannot help you. Additionally, the threat as described above could become lethal in an instant. Just because you don’t see a knife or gun does not mean he does not have one, but I digress.

I want to get you out of this single track mindset of get to my gun. Do you need to be prepared and well-trained with your gun, you betcha! However, there are countless scenarios in which you need to defend yourself and your loved one(s) with non-lethal force. Please, promise me one thing: If you decide to start carrying pepper spray with you, do not leave it buried in your purse, pocket, or glove box… Like your gun, you need to be able to get to it in an emergency and quickly. Whatever non lethal tool(s) and/or systems you wish to employ train in them and with them. Train hard, and fight like your life depends on it, it just might.

What can we learn?

  • Guns are not always the answer
  • I love guns, I mean I really really enjoy guns; that said, guns are still not always the answer
  • Guns are a last resort, you would be amazed at how much you can do for your personal safety before you ever get to the solution that is a gun. These are a small part of a big picture, albeit a critical one
  • There are countless situations in which you need a non lethal solution, get some non lethal tools, train with them, carry them, and be prepared to deploy them
  • Understand the laws in your state. Be very clear on what the law allows for lethal force, learn it so well that you don’t have to think about it in the moment, you can just react appropriately

Stay Sharp,


So, as I was riding down the road with a buddy the other day we got on the subject of fighting. Go figure huh? The question posed to me was: Who would win in a fight, Mike Tyson in his prime or Bruce Lee? I did not have an easy answer for that. However, it did bring to light an interesting point and concept that I have touched on in the past. A martial art, or a fighting system? Now, before we get going on this you need to know that I have a special affinity for martial arts. I have been studying martial arts for quite sometime and hold it very dear. But, enough about me.

I am asked on a regular basis: “What should I learn for self defense?” or “I want to learn to fight, what do you recommend?”. That is a loaded question the scale of: “What gun should I buy?” The only way I can answer this question is by asking my own questions: What do you want to achieve and How much time do you want to dedicate to the venture? There are a lot of subsequent questions and unique qualifiers that help guide us on the conversation but, these two will get you going.

Time is a big picture question, not short term. If you want to be a professional fighter in a year, I recommend that you stop the fantasy and check into reality hotel. Unless you are prepared to train 8+ hours a day, you can get that out of your head. Additionally, if you want to learn to “fight” I further recommend that you look to Mixed “Martial Arts” competition fighting. Trading punches is for sport; if you want to learn self defense I recommend you learn combatives. You can learn a great deal of combat skills in a short amount of time.

If you only intend on spending as short amount  a time as possible in learning combative skills,  you would be best off in spending a day or two in a good quality self defense class. The one caveat to these courses is: You have to practice!! There is no way you can gain and retain these skills on the level necessary to recall them in a survival stress situation in a day. This process takes time. Spending just a few minutes a day on the techniques learned in a good course will go a long way.

What I want to hear you say in response to the time questions is: “Until I die or my body won’t let me.”. Regardless of what system or style you wish to pursue, this needs to be a life long journey. I understand that we all have complicated lives. I have had to take breaks from study from time to time, life happens and gets in the way. But, as life allows, I get back into it. This journey of hand to hand combatives is not one that takes a week or year, but is a life long adventure; one with many paths and rabbit trails. Once you set foot upon this trail it captures your attention and passion with fervor. Time matters because martial arts is a long slow process, while fighting systems start punching things day one. The big difference here is; a good martial art will take this long slow process to change and modify your body to prepare you for combat in a way that a fighting system never could.

What you want to achieve is significant because that will ultimately determine the path you take. There are countless martial arts out there, and just as many fighting systems. Your end goal will dictate not only what genre you choose but also the style. To put it in a nutshell: Martial arts will teach you to change and manipulate your body first, then it will teach you to do the same to an opponent. A fighting system will teach you how to manipulate an opponent’s body.

I am not saying one way or the other on either genre. Both have their place and serve their purpose, or neither would exist. I actively train and practice both fighting systems and martial arts. I highly encourage you to do your homework and learn more about both genres before you start down one path. Ancient Adam proverb say: Do not start on a journey unless you are prepared to reach your destination. Meaning this: Do not start something unless you are prepared to see it through. Starting out, bouncing around will do you no good, you will never grow, and you will become frustrated. What ever you choose, embrace it and enjoy it!

What can we learn?

  • There are two genres of combatives: Martial Arts, and what we call Fighting Systems. Martial arts are typically comprised of much more that straight combatives. Fighting systems focus on fighting exclusively.
  • How much time do you have; or should I say, How much time are you willing to invest?
  • What is your end goal with this process? Only you can answer this question, be honest and answer truthfully.
  • Regardless of what you choose you must practice and stick with it!
  • Do not start on a journey unless you are prepared to reach your destination
  • My money is on Bruce Lee…

Stay Sharp,



When I was a kid I would scare my Mom, on a regular basis… I would hide in the hamper, under the dirty clothes, in a closet, in the dark, whatever it took. I would go all out, I mean I would plan it out in advance! I would find out what she is doing, and predict where she would go. So, if she was drying and folding linens, I would go hide in the linen closet and wait. Sometimes I would wait for 10 minutes,  sometimes more, sometimes I was wrong and she would never come. It was always worth it… Looking back I feel bad, as I may have very well taken a few years off of her life.

Regardless of how I scared my dear Mother, I would always garner the same response: A scream, a jolt, and a chastisement, often followed by a punishment (and yet I kept doing it but, that’s another story). She would always provide the same response, a natural response.

This; this is what we are after! A natural human response! If we are defending ourselves when our fear, adrenaline, and every other human function is going crazy, we will default to our natural response. We cannot fight these reactions, certainly in the moment. Now, let me lay out a disclaimer here: We can also default to our training; once we have trained and prepared ourselves to encounter certain events we may default to our training. Our article on hyper vigilance talks about our mind being a Roledex, check it out to learn how it works.

What if we understood and could plan on our natural human reactions? Imagine knowing what will happen to your body if “X” happens, training for it, and mastering it! This would place you in the top few percentile of people. This is where our training philosophy comes in to its own. We train, and teach you what happens to your body under extreme stress, then we teach you how to harness it, then it is up to you to master it. I would argue that mastering our natural instincts, our reaction to them, and our response would make you super-human, not the TV superhuman by the way, just a normal person performing acts that most everyone else cannot.

Why do we do this? Well, you are going to do it anyway, right? Why not perfect and control our response!? For example; bi-pedal animals are designed to get as big as possible and square up to a threat (bears, humans, primates, etc. all do it) So, our fighting stance, to include shooting, should utilize this platform. If you become the best at what we do naturally, you will be incredibly hard to beat.

Bruce Siddle in his fantastic book: Sharpening the Warriors Edge, tell us how the Isosceles stance came to be. In 1927, Lt. Fairborn with the Bangcock Police department observed the officers in gun battles. They all adopted that stance naturally, it was not taught to them. Fast forward to 1989, a research group took 39 police officers, the majority whom shot only the “Weaver” stance”, a very accurate stance used by competitors for over 50 years. They put them in real world scenarios with a gun. All of them hated the isosceles, and worshiped the weaver. In that moment, 96.7% went straight to isosceles. What is the take away? Not even training can  overcome natural reaction every time. (I highly recommend this book, it is excellent!

However, there are times in which we train to overcome natural reaction. Running away, freezing in place, panicking, etc. are all bad natural reactions. We train those out, and replace them with productive activities.

What can we learn?

  • Scaring our mom is not cool…
  • Understanding natural human response is critical for two reasons: Measuring our response, and knowing theirs
  • Training is critical
  • At Strategic Defense Group, we train to master and perfect natural human reactions. We do not fight them, we work with them so all systems are working together, in synchronization.
  • Train to and master your natural human reactions, and you will become better than most…
  • We train to what is natural for that very reason, it is natural. It is easier to understand and master, because we are already programmed to do it, we just tweak it and master it.

Stay Sharp,

Is there any way to predict the imminent danger of an attack? Absolutely! Can this be done with 100% accuracy? Nope. However, we can gather data, add it together, and compute a likelihood and probability. We do this by looking at past events, their outcome, and comparing that with our current circumstances.

Each and every incident is unique, but more than that, they are ever evolving and changing as they unfold. We are going to look at some “pre-attack indicators”. So called for their purpose and function. We look at pre-attack indicators prior to an attack to help us calculate its outcome.

Here is an incomplete, but sizable list of pre-attack indicators:

  • Darting glances (looking escape or friends)
  • Target Glance (looking at weapons, or targets)
  • Face wipe
  • Grooming (adjusting hair, picking at nose ears, etc)
  • Removing clothes (seriously, taking off the shirt is common)
  • Cracking Knuckles (preparing the fists)
  • Pacing back and forth (unsettled and nervous)
  • Pointing fingers (admitting target)
  • Shouting and screaming
  • Threats (obvious)

The above list is not exhaustive, but it is a good start. When you find yourself in a sketchy situation, look for some or all of the above cues. They may or may not be present in any and all combinations. A calm, cool, and experienced head, is not likely to show signs of a fight, so this is not a guarantee, just a likelihood.

Once we have looked for pre-attack indicators we need to make an assessment. This is where we move from information to intelligence. Let us do a quick hypothetical: You and some guy are having words, never mind the reason. He is becoming hostile and you are getting nervous about the whole thing. You observe him pacing, screaming, pointing fingers, and looking around. You have someone call 911, but now what? What can you do while waiting for the cops?

First, create a reactionary gap. This allows us more room and time to react. Now that we have that, we begin to plan. What are we going to do if he does “this”? That is why we have so much time going through mental simulations, right? We are going through and over our capabilities. Legally, we cannot take preemptive action. Just because you observe a few pre-attack indicators does not mean you can shoot, stab, slash, or through punch the guy.

What we can do it assess the subject. We can identify weak points, vulnerabilities, ability and skill,  and tools.  Once the fight is on, if it ever comes, we can and will be much more prepared than the bad guy, and that is everything in a fight.

Pre-attack indicators are a fantastic tool and should be used regularly. One neat thing about this is you can do it anywhere, anytime. You can master this art in a relatively short time. Once you have, you will become fluid in reading people. You will be able to tell just by looking at someone if something is not right.

Take the time, and make the effort to learn and practice pre-attack indicators. They may just save your life. You will be less likely to be caught off guard and more likely to win, prevent, avoid, or run away from a fight.

What can we learn?

  • Pre-attack indicators are good, but not a guarantee.
  • We cannot attack based on indicators, we can, however, plan our attack.
  • Once we have seen indicators, we have to assess the threat and ourselves.
  • Get police in route anytime we can in such a situation.
  • Use reactionary gap, and mental simulations to help you win the fight if it comes to that.

Stay Sharp,


We talk about practice an awful lot; well, training anyway. This article is a follow up to an article we did a little while back titled Practice makes perfect… Or does it? In that article we discussed practicing, training, and the difference. This week, we are talking about practice, and what it does to us, or for us.

As the title of this article states, practice does not make perfect, it makes permanent. We can practice all day long, but if we are not improving, we are only making our inability permanent. Yeah, I said it. If you stink, and never improve, you are going to be really good at being lousy.

Well then, how do I improve? Great question! With time, and proper instruction. A good teacher combined with dedicated time to practice will help you improve. Easily formulated, complexly accomplished; I know. But, as my Mamma always said, “nothing worth doing is easy”; or if you prefer “anything worth doing, is worth doing right”.

So, back to this permanent thing. Have you ever heard of muscle memory? If you have been around us here at Strategic Defense Group for very long at all, you know we are sticklers, and quite picky about semantics. Muscle memory is a common term and generally accepted. However, there is no such thing. Muscles cannot create memory. Muscle memory is simply motor learning through procedural memory. Basically, we do something so much, we do not have to think about doing it any more. For example, if you type on a keyboard a lot, or play an instrument a great deal, you fingers just go to where they need to go to do what you want; you don’t have to tell yourself, hey left index finger: place yourself on the third fret on the A string (for guitar).

Muscle memory is actually procedural memory? Yes. So is practicing to permanency bad then? NO! It is a great blessing! However, there is an underlying danger… The horrific “training scars” *gasp*! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, training scars are very real, and very dangerous. These nightmarish things can come from no training, or worse yet, bad training and instruction. A training scar is:A procedure or process learned and practiced into a procedural memory that is wrong and or dangerous. We will pick up training scars in another article.

You were saying that there is a good side to training to permanency?.. Oh yes! There are many, too many to list in any singular entry or book even, advantages to procedural memory. Everything that is not bad, is good. Learning where all the functions on your firearm are and keeping your knife or keys in the same exact spot all the time are good examples of major positives.

I am a monumental fan of consistency. It makes us better at everything we do. Through being consistent, we develop procedural memory, and that is our friend. Thanks to Hyper-vigilance and the need to move we know that our brain does not function like normal in combat, we have to have a plan already. That is precisely why practice making permanent can be a good thing.

Take your time, and do it right. If you shave corners in training and practice, you will surely do it in combat; and cutting corners in combat will get you killed… If you do not make a tight fist when you train punching the air you will make a weak fist in combat. Then on your very first punch, you will break your hand, and be down in the fight. Do not give your opponent that gift. Take a little extra time, make a little extra effort, and find a good teacher; then you will be the best.

What can we learn?

  • Practice makes permanent, not perfect
  • Permanent is not a bad thing, unless it is, then, you better fix it and now!
  • Muscle memory is not real, it is a lazy way of saying Motor learning through procedural memory
  • Training scars are real, and real scary. Once procedural memory is established, it takes some time and effort to correct
  • Procedural memory is a real blessing, take full advantage of it!

Stay Sharp,