Personal Defense

All posts tagged Personal Defense

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,


This is really less of a buzzword, and more of a buzz”method” but, the concept still applies just as well.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has become an entire sub-culture, with it’s own “speak” and style. UFC started out as more of a bar brawl style cage fight, using whatever training and techniques and style you had, and to the victor went the spoils. Now, however, it is this combination of watered down Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) and Muay-Thai; labeled as Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Both of which in there natural and raw form are serious and effective arts.

What the general public seems to have forgotten, ignore, or disregard, is that it is a sport. The “Affliction” shirts, and flat-bill “Tapout” baseball caps make you look hardcore and you belong in and to this sub-culture; but, what does all this stuff mean? For the 1% of the population who actually participates in UFC/MMA, it is how they identify in their sport, fair enough. The rest of those who wear the gear, and know the names of the athletes but do not participate, are fans, also fair.

Where the problem starts is when people assume that MMA is a viable form of self defense. You may have noticed I kept referring to UFC/MMA as a sport, and indeed it is. UFC has taken parts of BJJ and Muay-Thai, both good arts, and sportized (it’s a word because I just made it one) them.

UFC has rules, regulations, etc that go into a sport. They have to make money, keep the fans happy, keep new guys interested, just as in baseball, football, basketball, and all the others in order to keep the sport alive. This is however, not a martial art. I am sure those that participate in the sport are fuming and more than willing “to step in the octagon with me”, but look; I do not fight with rules, the eyes, knees, groin, are all viable targets, and disabling you is a goal.

When you train for self defense, you should train and prepare for a real world street fight. There are a lot of great arts, forms, and styles out there, and even more folks who are masters of their respective art. But, you should not look to a sport for self defense.

Now that I have hurt the feelings of all the UFC/MMA fans out there, lets do a comparison of the pros and cons that UFC brings to the table.


  • Learn to hit and be hit. You must know how to strike properly, without hurting yourself, transferring energy, and all that
  • Fundamentals. Muay Thai is what is used for the stand-up game. Muay-Thai is a series Thai style of boxing/kickboxing. This entails footwork, combinations, focus drills, cardio, etc., etc. All good things.
  • The ground game is primarily BJJ. This is a great art, especially if you are smaller. I have seen little guys, straight dominate little guys. Shoot, I have been dominated by guys significantly smaller than me on the ground. (they were very good)


  • Both BJJ and Muay-Thai are watered down solutions of the original. You can still get good stuff out of them, but I assure you, by the time you get through all the rules and attached garbage, they are not as potent.
  • There are rules in UFC. There are no “rules” on the street.
  • It is a sport…

There are certainly valid points to be taken from such a training for self-defense. But, I would highly encourage you seek other venues for the purpose of self defense

What can we learn?

  • UFC is a sport. Sports are nice to enjoy and play and all that. However, for the purpose of self defense there are better venues.
  • If you are going to invest time and effort into a fighting style/system for self defense, do your homework and research. Find a place and style that works for you and fits your self defense needs.
  • Don’t get caught up in the buzzwords of our modern times. Wearing the “Tapout” gear and knowing the names of all the champs is fun as a fan, but it does not make you a warrior.
  • Becoming proficient in a fighting style/art takes time and dedication. Find something you love that works for you, and dive in head first!

Stay Sharp,



We all train, and we do it often. How you and train and what you train for may not be what your intended goal is. When we go the range, we call it training. When we study in martial arts, we call it training. Both of these things are good things, I actively participate in both, and I recommend you do the same.

But! When you go the range and train, what are you training for? How are you training? By definition training is the action of teaching someone something. For those of you with kids, or if you have ever been around kids for any amount of time, you will see them learning, they are always learning. Always… They learn by doing, seeing, and hearing. Of course, seeing us do something and repeating the action themselves is the most prolific way children learn.

So, what changes as we grow up? Nothing. We still learn by performing a task more than any other method. This very much carries over to our training. We go to the range, or to a class with the intent of learning. We have engaged our mind and body to accept a task and perform it over and over.

Now, let’s use the range as our example. When you are at the range “training”, what are you training yourself for? If you use an indoor range, to shoot at paper, in climate controlled area, with safety equipment, from the low or compressed ready, you are training for that scenario unless you have a predetermined training goal.

We will discuss “training like you fight” in more detail in another article. So we will not go into detail here. What we are going to discuss is having a training plan. Going to the range “to sling lead” is fun, but if you are calling it training, please stop. Correction: do not consider it productive training, you are training, but it is not productive.

Keeping with our range example: there are many a good training that come from those nice indoor range days. You must have a predetermined training plan going into the range if you expect to be productive however. Go with the intent to work on one or two things, Trigger Control, Sight alignment/picture, reloads, shooting both eyes open, etc. are some examples of training areas that can be honed in such an environment.

In martial arts, if you go with the intention of self-defense training, be sure you are getting what you are going for. A fancy sport in which you perform no hand cartwheels, and spinning back kicks has its place; self-defense is not that place. There are many good martial arts out there that have both, traditional martial arts require years of study before you really get into the meat and potatoes. If you are going just for self-defense look for self-defense training, boxing, Krav Maga, or something of the sort.

Our time is valuable, every second spent is one you are never going to get back. Make your training count. Don’t waste time and money of on some fly by night training or method. Invest yourself into the process and put everything you have into everything you do, especially those things in which you may trust your life to someday.

What can we learn?

We are always training, be sure your training is effective and of quality.

Don’t waste your time or money on junk. If you are going to go to the range, or a class, be sure to make the most of it.

Put everything you have into your training; trust me when your life hangs in the balance you will be fighting with everything you have.

Get training. Guns are great, but we don’t need a $3000 rifle, we need a $1000 rifle and $2000 of training!

Stay Sharp


They say there are three things you don’t talk about: Religion, Money, and Politics. The logic behind this is that these three topics are very sensitive to people and they become very passionate about them, as we hold them all dear.

However, I am would like to propose an amendment to this phrase, to include, Caliber selection! If you are itching for a good old fashioned heated debate, go to a group of “gun guys or gals” and state matter of factly what caliber is the best. Then, stand back and watch the show! We all have a preferred caliber for one reason or another.

The one phrase that comes up constantly is: stopping power. “.45 ACP is the best because of the stopping power!”; “.380 is junk because it has no stopping power!” I can almost guarantee that you will here these two things said.

That begs the question what is stopping power? Well, we will define it as follows for this discussion: Stopping power is the ability to end a threat with the minimum amount of effort or rounds on target.

Ok, so now that we know exactly what we are talking about, why does this matter? I’m glad you ask! It doesn’t! Yeah! I said it! Stopping power, as it is used is a statistical farce for the most part. I guarantee you I can find 5 cases of a single shot from a .22lr neutralizing a threat, and 5 cases of a .45 ACP not stopping the threat in just a few minutes.

A couple years back an older gentleman shot and killed 1 of three intruders in his home with one shot, from a .22lr rifle he uses for squirrels. This happened in the town over from me. Well, how about that for stopping power!

Let’s take another look at our definition above: Stopping power is the ability to end a threat with the minimum amount of effort or rounds on target. I think that .22 has plenty of stopping power, wouldn’t you agree.

Stopping power has become a buzzword among the gun community, often misused and misunderstood. Too many people believe that stopping power looks like Hollywood depictions of a guy getting shot with a shotgun and flying backwards through the wall… Newtons 3rd law of physics tells us that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. So, in order for the “bad guy” to go flying backward, the same amount of force would be placed on the one pulling the trigger. So, even the .45 acp only hits as hard as you feel in the recoil. Granted, the .45 has a lot more recoil than a .22, but nothing that will stop a man in his tracks.

Here is what is important. Forget stopping power, think shot placement. What stopped the intruder in his tracks in our story above, was shot placement. The round was perfectly placed, right in his heart. One officer shot a man 14 times with a .45 acp, six of those rounds were supposed to be fatal, and he kept coming! This is an extreme case but, it drives home the point: Shot placement, not stopping power. Had one of those rounds struck his heart, or ended brain activity, that would have been the end of that.

What can we learn?

Next time you hear someone say something about stopping power, remind them that shot placement far supersedes “stopping power”

The only way to stop a threat “dead in his tracks” is to turn out the lights. Shut the body down and prevent it from functioning.

This mythical illusion that shooting someone with a .45 acp will knock them backward and kill him instantly regardless of shot placement is a farce and should be ignored.

Larger calibers have their advantages, as do smaller calibers. However, it is not all about calibers. If you only can carry a .22 lr or .380 acp, than go for it, it is better than nothing. Be sure to use top quality ammo and practice practice practice!

We discuss choosing a handgun here:

And here:


Stay Sharp,


Let’s face reality, we do not always have a gun on us. There are situation in which carrying a gun is not an option. There are many specific settings, but just use your imagination for this discussion.

You are out in public without your trusty holstered companion, you are suddenly forced to defend yourself. Stop, time out! This is not the time to decide what you are going to do. You should already have a game plan. You have already decided to always carry something that can be used as a weapon. A good metal shaft pen, a solid pocket knife, keys, get creative. You have thought about and practiced using that item as a weapon.

Ok, time in: Now you are left with two choices: Fight or Flight. If you fight you may be going up against a superior weapon, so be aware of your disadvantage here. Fleeing may be the best option, only you will be able to make that decision in the moment.

Without an even match, how can you possibly defend yourself. Well, there are several options here, two of which are instinctive. Run and Hide are always an option and it is a natural response. Now, there are ways to run and hide that are most effective.

Running: A moving target is statistically 4 times more difficult to hit, try it sometime in a safe training environment. So, the simple act of running decreases your chance of falling victim by 75%! But, now you have to know where to run to! The movies will get you killed. I am at an absolute loss as to why people always run up the to roof, or up the stairs etc in movies when they are fleeing, I mean they cannot possibly have a game plan, I digress. Part of being aware of your surroundings means knowing where the exits are. In the mall, stores have a back delivery door, restaurants have a back kitchen door. There are many ways to escape effectively, you just have to know where and how to look.

Hiding: There is a good way and a bad way to hide. Bad way – collapsing where you are, not taking adequate shelter,making too much noise, etc. Good way – finding secure cover that you can lock down and maintain control of the area. (Quick note: Cover = Bulletproof, Concealment = Not visible but not safe from fire. A good example of cover is a nice thick concrete wall; concealment would be an average wall in your home. ) If you plan to hide and wait the event out, you need to know how to secure and lock down an area the best way possible. Find a small controllable space, Lock and/or barricade the entrance, be quiet, prepare for war and arm yourself and anything you can.

When outmatched with rifles v car keys, I recommend running, however there are times when that is not possible. That is why you learn how to identify weapons in everyday objects and then learn how to employ such items effectively. It is not always a rifle v car keys, sometimes it is just hand to hand. Some basic training, simple techniques, and strategy, can go a long way in hand to hand when practiced and perfected. More on that later.

What can we learn:

There are times in which we cannot employ a firearm for defense

Learn to use the world around you to your advantage. Take cover, hide, create weapons

Train hard

It is ok to run. “He who runs away, lives to fight another day” – Maverick, Mel Gibson

I will leave you with my favorite Bruce Lee Quote: – “If a man comes at you with a sword run; Kung Fu does not always work.” Simply put, there is a time for fighting, and a time for running, learn the difference now, not when your life depends on it

Stay Sharp



This past week we saw a horrific tragedy in Paris. Numerous innocent civilians were killed and many more injured with explosives and rifles. Paris is a strictly no gun zone, we have discussed this topic previously and you can read more about them here. This week we are looking at how we can defend ourselves without adequate tools.

When an unprovoked attack befalls us we have two options, and those two options are ingrained in our very DNA, Fight or Flight. We can either stay and fight the opponent, or we can run from them, there is a time for both. If we observe nature for guidance, we can learn a great deal. Most animals respond the same way, fight or flight. However, the vast majority of creatures opt for flight before fight, they only fight when they feel there are no other options.

Choosing to fight requires courage, training, determination, and a willingness to die for your efforts. Fleeing on the other hand requires no such commitment and anyone can do it. In the case of Paris, even a well trained citizen with a handgun would be out gunned. This is when you flee, using your handgun if necessary, to safety.

There is no shame in retreat when a loss is inevitable. The movies have portrayed one or two heavily outgunned and matched individuals taking on a well equipped and trained army, successfully. This is simply not reality and should be disregarded.

When, for whatever reason, you find yourself unarmed or under equipped, it is important to know how to defend yourself. Next week we will take a more detailed look at steps you can take to protect yourself and others in such an event.

What can we learn?

We are designed to have two responses to a threat, fight or flight

Knowing when to run and when to fight is critical for survival. I am reminded of the Kenny Rogers song: ” You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em; know when to walk away and know when to run”

There is no shame in fleeing from a fight you cannot win.

Gun free zones get innocent people killed.


Stay Sharp,


There are as many answers and opinions to this topic as there are handguns themselves. We recommend a three part process when looking for a defense handgun. Those three parts are: Quality, Availability, and personal preference.

Quality: If you are going to carry a handgun, you had better be will to trust your life to it’s quality. There are many quality manufactures out there, do some research and find them. A short (non-exhaustive) list of popular and quality manufacturers are:  Glock, Springfield, Smith and Wesson, Sig Sauer (in most models). It is up to you to decide what is important in quality and understand what makes a quality gun, and what you are willing to pay. The a fore mentioned manufactures offer some great guns at affordable and reasonable prices. I own and carry a Glock and a Springfield XDm regularly. We do not promote one over another, as each have different aspects that make them attractive, that is where personal preference comes in.

Personal Preference: There are about as many choices out there for a carry gun as there are stars in the sky. Those that pass the quality step still leave you with an overwhelming amount options. You need to decide what you want out of a handgun in order to narrow the field more. Do you want a manual safety? What size frame do you want, full, compact, subcompact? Often, it comes down to looks; we want a gun we like to look at right? Make a list of important features to you and start there, this will remove a vast amount of options and make the search more reasonable. You also must consider the availability of accessories, and parts.

Availability: You need to consider the availability of parts and accessories for the handgun. You may find a quality handgun, that you like, but if it was made in Slovakia in the 1980’s, you are going to have a hard time finding parts should you need it, and forget about a good carry holster. Holster and other accessory manufacturers will make equipment for more common handguns. When it comes to Glocks for example, you are spoiled for choice.

What can we learn:

First and foremost you need to choose a reliable and quality brand that has a proven track record.

Don’t let someone tell you what gun you “need” Just because it works for them, does not mean it will work for them. Itemize a list of specifications that are important to you, and start from there.

Before you commit to a gun, make sure the accessories you want for it are available.

This process is very personal and in some way intimate. Before you let someone tell you what gun you need, or choose one on a whim, do your homework. It does not take long, and it may be a life saving decision.

Don’t forget to like our Facebook page at Strategic Defense ( and follow us for weekly editions of The Sharpening Stone and other self defense related information.

Stay Sharp,


We all worry. It is part of the human condition. Regardless of whether we are in control of a given situation or not, we worry about it. We worry about money and our well being probably more than any other two topics. Now, money is not what we do here, so, that leaves us with well being. This week we will discuss worry and our well being as it pertains to personal safety and protection.

When do we worry about our personal safety? When we feel in danger of course. We may get into driving in bad weather at some point, but, for this discussion lets use the example of walking down a big city street at night.

You are walking down the street and you worry about that guy loitering, smoking a cigarette, looking right at you, at the door of an obviously closed shop. What are worried about? That he will mug you, he is the lookout for an active burglary? Our imagination has a tendency to run away and go worst case instantly. He might be waiting for the bus, or a friend. The point is, we don’t know, this is why we worry.

As you approach a situation that causes the hair on your neck to stand up, and you begin to worry what is your plan? What if ____(fill in the blank) happens? What am I going to do, who is with me, what are obvious danger signs, etc.

A big part of training and mental preparedness is playing the “what if” game and going through mental simulations. Going back to our example, as you approach this suspicious individual what is going through your head? Do you begin to pray, panic, looking for possible help nearby, or: do you begin to analyze and assess the possible threat? Which of these is most prudent? Ok, that was kinda a trick question, you should throw up a quick “flare prayer” and then begin to assess the threat.

What am I going to do if he starts walking towards me? What if he asks you for change? What if, what if, what if… Let’s begin to break this down. If you find yourself in this position you already want to have played what if, making critical decisions in an adrenaline filled moment, you may get yourself in trouble.

Even in mundane, and known safe situations, run through a what if. At the grocery store, the gas pump, the stop light, etc. Ask yourself, what is that guy pulled a gun or a knife; what if he tried robbing the place; or, what if he started beating his girlfriend? You need to know the laws and your capabilities and apply them accordingly you simulations. Combine that knowledge and play the what if game all the time.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Marine General James Mattis (Ret): “Be polite, be professional, and have a plan to kill everyone you meet.” Chew on this and prepare yourself mentally.

What can we learn:

Play what if regularly and appropriately.

Don’t go overboard. If a bank is being robbed by a 5 man team with automatic rifles, and you are across the street. Be a good witness and call the police. Do not interject yourself into this situation.

Be realistic and mentally prepared for anything!

Stay sharp,