Need to Know

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BACK UP! GET BACK! Those are a couple of examples of what you may hear or say to create space between you and a threat, real or perceived. Creating space between you and a subject is officer safety 101, but it not limited to public law enforcement. It applies to you and your self defense strategy just as well. Creating distance has numerous benefits, some of which we discuss below.

In the “industry” we call the gap we create using different tactics the “Reactionary Gap”. One of the primary reasons for this aptly named concept is to allow us time to react. Common sense, and a little bit of physics, tells us: the greater the distance of an object traveling towards us the greater the time it will take to reach us. Traveling is a prime example. If you visit your friend down the road, it take a couple minutes, to visit your relatives 300 miles away, it will take several hours.

This concept is what started the 21 foot concept in the 80’s. (Learn more about the 21′ “rule” HERE). Lt. Tueller, in a classroom setting determined that on average his students could draw and fire in the time it took another student to run 21 feet. This highlights the importance of creating space and distance.

But! And it is a big but; can you reasonably keep 21′ or more space between you and everyone you encounter. Although we may wish that was the case sometimes, no, that is just not reasonable. What is reasonable in most cases, however,  is “our bubble”. Take your hands and stick them straight out to the side, like you would if you we pretending to be an airplane. The circumference you make when you turn 360 degrees is your bubble. This is you space. No one has any business being inside of that space uninvited.

What this means is: a reasonable reactionary gap is your bubble. The downside here is you do not have much time, and most certainly not time to get to a traditional tool. So, you must learn to buy  time with what you have. That leaves something already in your hand, or just your hands. Keys, a purse, a cell phone, etc. can all be employed as an intermediate weapon if need be.

Another benefit of the reactionary gap is the cost. It’s free! The self defense world can get expensive; with all the gadgetry, tools, training, etc. So, when we stumble across that beautiful gem that we can learn and employ for next to nothing, there is no reason what soever we should not become proficient on the topic.

This brings us to our final concept: Using objects. Using objects to buy us time, even when distance is not available, gives us a reactionary gap. You may be just across a low fence from a threat, but that fence must be overcome before the threat is valid.  In the case of a dog, that fence may give you such a reactionary gap, there is no threat.

The reactionary gap may sound like a technical new phrase, but the concept is something we employ everyday. While driving we create distance between us and the car ahead of us to allow time to brake. We put things between us and a threat: a fence, a car, a table, etc. Don’t fret the terminology, you already know and understand the reactionary gap as a concept; now you just need apply it to your self-defense strategy.


What can we learn?

It’s free, master it

Creating distance of space and/or time allows us time to react to a threat

Use objects to create time. Knock a chair over, trash can, get behind a car.

If the threat cannot physically reach you, they must have a tool that can close the gap. If they do not have such a tool, you have effectively neutralized the threat (to a point).

A substantive reactionary gap is not always possible. Develop techniques and skills to forcibly create distance.


Stay Sharp,


Grammatically speaking, Violence of Action is a nightmare, not to mention confusing. To further complicate matters, it is difficult to define in finite terms. Violence of Action (VoA) is a concept and ideology. A well rounded self defense strategy will include VoA, and employ it properly.

Traditionally a military term, VoA is common within that community; however, it has struggled making the leap to civilian life and application. VoA can be defined as: the unrestricted use of surprise, speed, strength, and aggression to achieve dominance against your adversary. While the military implications are far different than that of civilian individual self defense, the concept remains the same.

Where the military may employ coordinated air strikes combine with artillery, infantry, and whatever else they may have handy. For you and I, we have much less to work with. Our hands, firearms, intermediate weapons, and the like are all we have. So, how can we employ VoA, what does it look like?

Using the above definition; let us look at a scenario. You are walking down the street at night and get “jumped”. They guy has a knife, not time to go for your gun. With lethal force legal here; you explode with everything you have, lashing out with your hands striking the attacker in the face and throat with everything you have. No warning, no pleading, just action. This is VoA.

You used the following components of VoA to react:

Surprise: You gave no warning that you would fight back. Your response was instantaneous and explosive.

Speed: An effective hand strike will be fast, if not it is easily defeated or avoided.

Strength: You don’t hit someone with a knife in your face like you’d pull a paper towel off of the roll. You hit with everything you have.

Aggression: Hello… you just throat punched him; that qualifies as aggression.

If done properly and effectively, you have achieved total dominance over your attacker. I assure you, a good hard throat punch will disable anyone, no matter how tough. If nothing else it will buy you a second or two.

Violence of action is not only employed for defense, but in attack. Think: ambush. The bad guy can use VoA just the same as you. Think about it; if a guy 100 feet away said he was going to rob you, would you continue on? No! You would avoid him and the area. They require VoA to be successful in their attempts.

VoA requires quick thinking, problem solving, and skill. You must be able to process and act fast in order to defend against, or employ VoA. If not, it is just violence or action. This comes with time and training. The more you think about and train using VoA the more natural and instinctive it becomes.

What can we learn?

Violence of Action is critical to a successful defense strategy

The grammar ( or lack there of) is terrible…

Action is critical, explosive, surprising action is better

The more you do something, the more natural it becomes. When you train, train with VoA in mind. That way, when you need it, you don’t think you just act.


Stay sharp,