All posts tagged Training

I went running the other day. To some that may be an everyday habit, I assure you, for me it is not. I don’t care to run unless it is perfect weather and I want to be outside, this was one of those days. I started out and was feeling pretty good a mile in, after mile two I was still feeling alright so I decided to go for a 3 mile! About a tenth of the way into the third mile I started feeling it… I felt like I hit a wall, my side started hurting, and everything went to pot. However! I refused to stop, I was determined to go a full three miles, or until my body failed. I was not going to let my mind stop me!

Quitting is an option for many, particularly in America. We have developed a society that encourages easy living and removal of hardships. While that is nice in many ways, it has softened us as a society. When things get hard we quit or change the rules. Guess where quitting is not an option, ever? Go ahead, take a minute and think about it before you read on. You think you got it? If you said self-defense, combat or some equivalent then you nailed it! If you are in a fight for your life, you better believe you opponent(s) is not going to just stop and walk away because you are tired or hurt. If you need a lesson on not quitting no matter what read Lone Survivor  by Marcus Luttrell or watch the movie.

Just because you are hurt, tired, or just don’t feel like it, stopping is not an option. A fight for your life typically only lasts a few seconds. In a fight 15 seconds feels like 15 years but the reality is it is only a short time. Training hard and as realistically as possible to create stress and elevated heart rate comes into its own here. Mimicking real life scenarios is great as long as you are careful to avoid the injury side of reality. This simulation assists in fixing the perceptual change that comes with high stress situations. Like most everything else, exposure can lead to desensitization. In this case, that is a good thing.

I have yet to experience anything so exhausting as fighting… It wears a body (and mind) out! It makes you want to quit because you can’t breathe, your heart rate is 150+ BPM, it hurts, and it can be scary. We must train in a controlled and safe environment in order to help us overcome this fear and desire to quite. We are hard-wired to run away from danger. Look at nature for this. The list of animals and insects that go right to combat before first retreating is rather short. I say regularly and will say it again here: If a fight can be avoided, avoid it, however, if you must fight with extreme violence and ferocity!

Don’t take my word for how important preserving is. Look up survival stories and decide for yourself the resounding theme of survivors: Perseverance. You will not read quotes of: “It just got so hard and I was hurting pretty bad, so I just stopped fighting, I quit, thankfully the guy trying to hurt me saw I was tired and walked away”. Nope! You will see this however: “I couldn’t breathe, and I thought I was dying, but I was not going to let this scumbag take me away from my family!”.

Perseverance is a resounding theme for success not only in this realm of self-defense but also in business, relationships, and life in general. The decision to not give up may be hard, it may hurt, but at the end of the day if it is worth fighting for, it is worth persevering for!

What can we learn?

  1. The second quitting becomes an option, it becomes an inevitability
  2. Don’t quit, like seriously, don’t quit, ever!
  3. It may hurt, it may be scary, we may not have asked for it, but we must persevere through it anyway.
  4. If it is worth fighting for, it is worth persevering for!
  5. Train, practice, learn, repeat!

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



One of my dreams is to hike a section of the Appalachian Trail. This trail about 2200 miles long running from Georgia to Maine, and takes several months to hike in its entirety. I have watched documentaries, read stories, looked at maps, etc. to get a feel for the experience. In my studies, I learned of a little shop at the top of a hill close to the southern trail head. A hiker would likely get to this shop within a couple of days. It is full of all kinds of random things, off the wall trinkets, obscure and expensive gadgets, and hiking equipment. It also is well stocked with the essential hiking equipment.

This store sells the essentials, and buys  the excess. Hikers very quickly learn what is important. Every ounce matters in the pack. Those who pack in unnecessary gear for an extended hike may be well-funded, but lack experience/knowledge. They learn quickly just how important knowledge is, and are willing to sacrifice equipment once they understand what they are doing.

We can circumvent the vast majority of this difficult and possibly costly learning curve by doing some homework, and learning from the pros how to do it right. This approach carries over to pretty much every aspect of our lives. Let’s take a look at how this applies to our personal safety.

Every now and again I have a student come in with a brand new $1000+ dollar handgun that has never been shot, because they have never shot a hand gun… They have the equipment, but no understanding of how the thing works, essentially rendering it a really nice paper weight (but, they came to learn!). On the other hand, I have had students come in with grandpa’s old revolver that has seen better days. And yet, they perform very well! They have trained, learned, and bothered to gain the knowledge necessary to get the best from any tool available.

There is an old song that goes by the name of “Touch of the Master’s Hand“. It says that even though something may appear worthless, in the right hands, it is priceless. This puts focus on knowledge and capability as opposed to gear and equipment. Some of the most capable “operators” I know use quality equipment, train with it extensively, and place knowledgeable above all else.

What knowledge is most valuable? A few key topics come to mind: Tactics, Weapons manipulation, Human functionality, and Your own limits.

  • Tactics: We must know how to move, where, and when with purpose and intent.
  •  Weapons Manipulation: If you don’t know how to handle your weapon proficiently under stress, you better get there!
  • Human Functionality: We need to know how our body acts under stress, as well as how a threat’s body reacts to injury and other input.
  • Our own limits: You cannot do what you cannot do. There are some physical limitations. Can you honestly say that you can take a head shot into a moving threat through an active and dynamic crowd in a mall? I can’t. I know that, if you are being honest you can’t either, not without hitting a bystander. That is just reality…

I am not saying you cannot have nice gear, far from it! We should invest in quality gear. However, consider getting a $800 gun and spend $1200 on training, as opposed to $2000 gun with no training. If you can do both $2k on a gun, and train, more power to you! Most of us however, must settle for good quality consumer grade tools and train, and train… and train some more.

Never feel like you need to compete with other people’s gear, more on that here. What they have may not work for you, shoot, it may not work at all! Sometimes I see some “tactical” gear and cringe due to its disastrous potential! Gear does not equal good. A 10 lb rifle may look cool, but is all but worthless when clearing rooms. Your goals and priorities must be weighed, measured, and considered when creating a strategy for your safety. Seek professional help if necessary, but please learn!

What can we learn?

  • What is more valuable, gear or knowledge? Without gear, knowledge is worthless, without knowledge, gear is.
  • Gear is not always good, nor is it always helpful.
  • Equipment can be good, but be selective.
  • Avoid becoming obsessed with equipment
  • Spend time and resources on training!
  • Knowledge will cost more time than anything else, it is worth the investment!
  • Knowledge is power!!

Stay Sharp


Sometimes I go to training and see the guys with $3,000+ rifles, $1500+ handguns, and $1,000+ worth of accessories with the latest and greatest of everything Tactical; the latest 5.11 Tactical gear, hats, gloves, plate carrier, helmet, so on and so forth… Then I look up my gear and realize it’s a working man’s load out, I have maybe $1,000 into my rifle and then less than $500 in my hand gun.  I am sometimes embarrassed by my “Poor Man’s” load out; then I realized, it’s not just about high-end gear, it is about a whole lot more…

America has become pretentious as a whole. Unless you have the latest car, nicest clothes, and biggest house you are somehow inferior to everyone else. This worldview carries over into the tactical world, believe that. Tactical is synonymous with macho/ego at times, only serving to exacerbate this problem. Some folks look down on people for not being able to afford the all the highest end gear, others may not want to spend that much even if they can.

I understand the feeling, most intimately I assure you. As and instructor I get people of all walks come through our courses. Often I have someone come in with everything nicer than me, and that is ok. Other folks have what some would call “cheap” gear, but that is all they can afford. I don’t understand this attitude of: “you suck unless you have nice gear”. This irritates me to no end. I have known a lot of folks who do not have much money, however, they are good at what they do for this reason: They buy a decent tool, and spend time with it…

Now, let me clarify something real quick: I am not saying that you cannot have nice things, not at all. If you can afford the high end gear, go for it! However, you should avoid at all costs judging others based on their gear! On a related note: worn out gear, of decent quality, is a sign of experience and time, don’t let worn out gear fool you. In my construction days we would joke about the guys who roll up on a site with all new tools; this was a dead give away to that guy not having a clue what he was doing. His tools were all new because he has never used them.

Back on topic now, what is most important is learning to use the tool. Say for example you have a $1000 budget for a new handgun. You could buy a $1000 dollar gun sure, OR you could buy a $5/600 gun, spend a hundred bucks on getting some professional instruction, and spend what ever you have left ($3/400) on ammo and time on the range. You will learn more about your gun in a week like this than most learn in years!

The cold hard reality is %95 of the population does not need the best gear, they need good gear and the best training! So, next time you are at the range or a training and you see “Tactical Tommy” over there, wearing his AR-500 plates and carrier, ballistic helmet, 14 AR mags, thigh holster and 12 inch “tactical” knife ask yourself this question: “Will any of those things help me defend myself and my family”? If you wake up in the middle of the night, are you gonna throw on all that gear, or when you are at a Gala, will you be wearing your plates? I highly doubt it… Train for the fight you are most likely to have. All of the tactical gear is fun, believe me, and it has its place, but don’t get to caught up in all of the flash and forget the substance…

What can we learn:

  • Gear does not define a man, character does
  • Do not get so caught up in the gear itself, you never bother become proficient with it
  • Will all of the tactical gear equip you to better protect you and your family in the “real world”?
  • Do not allow yourself to judge others based on equipment, not everyone has the ability to have the latest and greatest

Stay Sharp


I will let you know right up front that this is where my heart lies. Traditional Martial Arts holds a place near and dear to my heart. You now know where I stand on this matter. I assure you, I will do an objective job of explaining both pros and cons of martial arts. Let’s jump right in shall we?

In Mike Tyson v Bruce Lee: Fighting Systems, we talked about, and broke down, what fighting systems are. Here we do the same with martial arts, but I am talking about real martial arts. Those that have been around for some time and have been battle proven. Let’s look at the words individually;  Martial: Relating to fighting or war – Oxford English Dictionary. Before we move on to art, let’s stay on martial for just a second. Consider the origin of martial arts. They were birthed from war. Professional warriors used these arts in combat, routinely. You are thinking, yeah right, I never saw anybody performing those fancy dance moves in combat. OK, so, those fancy dance moves are called kata; and your are right; kata are not performed in combat. However, each one has a purpose, but that is another article. Suffice it to say here, katas help the training process and memorization of skills. Trust me when I say the good systems have some very lethal knowledge.

Art as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary: A skill at doing a specified thing, typically one acquired through practice. That is the fourth definition provided, and the one I like the most as it fits the context. Arts are free flowing and malleable,  allowing you to express your ideas and thoughts. When we combine the two words into Martial Arts we get this definition: A system of knowledge and way of life applied during combat and peace where violence and peace are reconciled. I could not find a definition I liked in any way, so I created that one just now; I am open to input where the definition is concerned by the way.

What martial arts are: A way of life. A martial artist is not one who practices battle, but one who practices peace. At times, violence is necessary in order to maintain peace. If you wish to get into martial arts in an effort to become a fighter, I suggest you look elsewhere. Will you become proficient in combative skills, if the system is a good one? Yes. But it will come after years and years of dedicated practice and study, not a couple weeks, or months. Martial arts will change your body and mind over time; becoming more flexible, stronger, having more control over your body as well as mental fortitude & resiliency, patience, and clarity are all components of what comes with the martial artist life.

What it is not: A fighting system. If you want to jump in and learn to fight, find a good boxing gym. Can you study both? Absolutely! I have for years, and you can too. Fighting systems and martial arts balance each other out. Fighting systems are the quick combat training, and martial arts are the long term investment, but both supplement and support the other, they do not replace the other. Do not go to a martial arts unless you are looking to start a new lifestyle. If you only plan on studying for a few months or to achieve a short goal, don’t bother. This logic equates to going to medical school and dropping out halfway through, so you can say you went to medical school; you and I both know that is dishonesty in the highest order, to you and to everyone else.

I want to cut the conversation a little short and take a minute to warn you about a popular trend. I have personally seen more guys than I care to admit teaching “Martial Arts”. Be wary of “Gary’s Martial Art System”… If Gary is not teaching a traditional martial art (or fighting system) with a proven track record and reputation he may just be after your money. Gary is fictional but the point is not. I have seen a lot of guys teaching stuff that is dangerous; this goes for fighting systems too. The majority of these guys are just after your money, they know how to work it so you keep coming back, and feel accomplished, until it comes times to truly test you skills. I do not blame you, you don’t know what you don’t know, and besides, these guys are more con-artists than martial artists. This is why I suggest you do homework. Find out what they are teaching and research it. Now a quick note here. I encounter new systems that are of quality, and are worth looking into often. New systems can be good if they are well designed and put together. Just don’t be taken advantage of, I don’t want that for you.

Look, martial arts are awesome, but they are not everything. They are a piece to a larger puzzle. If you read nothing else, read this: There is no singular system! Stay away from anyone who tells you otherwise! I have a black belt in Shaolin Do, it is comprehensive in comparison to some others, but it is not everything. There are many ways I regularly supplement my knowledge with other martial arts and fighting systems. Find something that works for you and give it everything you have! I leave you with this saying, sadly the author is unknown, however, the wisdom is profound. A student said to his master: you teach me fighting but speak of peace, how to do you reconcile the two? The master answered: It is better to be a warrior in the garden than a gardener in war…

What can we learn?

  • Ancient martial arts were born out of combat and proven there too. Lousy ones didn’t survive the test of time. Those that used the lousy systems did not survive the combat to pass it on.
  • Being a martial artist is a way of life, not a title
  • Martial arts are not a short cut to fighting
  • Before you commit to a martial art, please, please! do some homework. There are too many good masters and martial arts out there to get caught up in a con.
  • There is no completely comprehensive system; in the words of Bruce Lee: Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own

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,


I was recently ask after a class by a good friend and student; “What do you do to get better at shooting”. I did not have an immediate answer for him. After a minute’s thought the fog lifted and I was able to tell him what I do. This article is a direct result of that conversation.

There are about as many ways to train as there are colors in the spectrum. That goes for anything; physical fitness, rock climbing, whatever. In the context of self defense, there is an equally long list: Handgun, Rifle, Shotgun, Knife, Hand to hand (which is massive in and of itself), mentally training, so on and so on. That said, the way I do things is a way, not the way. If you like it and it works for you, take it and run with it. I have developed this methodology over time and still allow room for modification.

This approach and process can be applied to any skillet. We will use handguns here, as that was the original context.

I take the approach of getting better like I would if I was to eat a whale, one bit at a time. When I go to the range, I go to get better at head shots at 10 yards from the holster, or get better at unsupported support hand shooting and reloading, or whatever I am improving.

I do not go to the range to “get better”. If you go to the range just to get better, you never will… What I do, and what I recommend students try is profound, are you ready!? Here it is: “Focus on one thing at a time!” See, not so hard right? But it’s so obvious, there must be more to it, well, there kinda is.

Let’s say you want to get better at shooting handguns, overall. Your groups are spread out and sometimes you miss all together. How does fixing one thing at a time help? Well, I’m thrilled you asked. Everything! Remember, what I said about the whale? One bite at a time. You will not become an expert shooter in one range session, not gonna happen. That takes time and practice. What you can do however, is get a little better each time!

When you go to the range to get better, start big and get small. Meaning, work on your big actions (stance), and move small (trigger control). So, you are at the range, and shooting all over the place. First things first: be consistent! If you are nothing else be consistent, you cannot improve until you are doing the same thing over and over.

Once you are doing the same things constantly, you can begin to improve what you are doing! Start with your stance. Make sure you have a good, solid, comfortable, and repeatable stance. Once that is solid, go smaller, how about your grip? Is that a great grip, or is it meh? Get it great and move smaller. Trigger control and sight alignment are the most critical functions for accuracy, they are also the smallest.

Now, about 90% of what makes you a better shooter can be done by dry firing. Please make sure you are being incredibly safe while dry firing! Follow all safety rules and remove any ammunition from the area!

When I go to the range, I will go with at least 100 rounds. I will spend all 100, more or less if that is what it takes, to work on one particular skill. If I need to work on my trigger control, then each shot is slow and analyzed to death. If I want to practice speed reloads from running dry, I will only put a round or two in the magazine so I can maximize my reloads, while still working on a shooting skill.

Do not try to do too much at once. That will frustrate you and you will not improve, because you will never know what works and what does not. Be particular, and take your time. Change one thing at a time, otherwise you will end up “chasing the bulls eye” and you will only become frustrated. When you train, train with a purpose, do not go shoot just to waste ammo and money. Nor should you swing a knife around and call it training, use these principles in all areas of training and watch yourself grow. Training implies improvement, and we should always be improving.

What can we learn?

  • Be consistent! You will never improve without constancy.
  • Once you are consistent, you can move your group
  • Focus on improving one thing at a time. Do not change too many things at once, if you do you will never know what works and what does not.
  • Start big and go small. Start with stance, move down to trigger, one step at a time.
  • Dry fire training will make you better when done correctly and safely
  • Be patient

I hope this helps, Nighthawk.


Stay Sharp,


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,



“You gotta train like you fight!” This vague phrase that gets so many worked up and causes us to go over the top at times. But, what does “training like you fight” really mean? Is it gear and equipment, or environment, or what?

In my personal and professional experience when people talk about training like you fight, they often mean wear a bunch of gear, and look “tacti-cool”. Going to the range to sling some lead wearing a leg rig, armor, and a helmet makes you look super cool, but do you wear that when you go to the grocery, or out for dinner? There is a time and place for such a load-out, but self-defense in public is not it.

Where else do some claim you have to “train like you fight”? How about in hand to hand defense? Oh yeah, I have heard too many times that you have to train like you fight when going hands on. Let me tell you something, I pity the poor soul that is on the receiving end of my “training” if we are going all out. I do not trade punches. Through extreme violence of action, I am going to do as much damage as needed to end the threat as quickly as possible. However, I spend time sparring, and working on my skills. This allows my muscles and mind to get used to the right movements, so when the time comes, I can go full-out and win the fight.

Ok, we have looked at a couple of examples of what people think “training like you fight” looks like. Now, let us look at what training like you fight should properly look like, shall we?

In order to understand how we can train for a fight, we have to learn what our fight will look like. It will likely be over in just a couple/few seconds, someone is probably going to be injured, and the threat will not announce it self and you will not have time to plan.

In order to prepare yourself for a real world threat in a safe training environment, there are some simple steps to be taken. This list is not exhaustive by any means, but, is a place to start. These steps are simple and anyone can do them.

  1. Mentally prepare yourself
    • While driving to work you can perform mental rehearsals, learn more about that here. You have to get your mind in the right place for combat before you are in it.
  2. Put everything you have into your training, regardless of the topic (ie: hand to hand, knife, gun, etc.)
    •  Putting everything we have in our training is free, and will automatically up our game. I assure you, when your life depends on it, you will not be engaging haphazardly. Note: This does not mean go 100% on your training partner, this means engaging yourself in the training and giving it everything you have, every time.
  3. Train with the tools you will actually have on hand ( your concealed carry load out)
    • When you are grocery shopping, what do you carry? A compact handgun, and an extra mag in your pocket? If so, train just like that, how fast can you get that mag out of your pocket? Learn your abilities and bottlenecks, then start removing bottle necks.
  4. Get good quality training.
    • There are a lot of good trainers out there, find one, and get trained! Do your homework first to ensure they are certified and a good instructor, running good, modern tactics.
  5. Don’t waste your time on worthless drills, techniques, and popular Tacticool methods.
    • For example; engaging a target with one or two shots, whipping the gun back to compressed ready, and whipping your head around, “scanning” for additional threats is a waste. You are building training scars into your training. Work the fundamentals, then start to add effective tactics.

The five points above are an outline, and they may take numerous different forms and combinations. We are all only have 24 hours in a day, between work, sleep, and life, we do not get as much time as we may like to train, we have to make the most out of our time and training.

What can we learn?

Training like you fight is a buzzword. If you are making the most of your effective training, you are preparing for the fight.

Not all “training” is created equal, some is a waste of time; don’t waste your time.

There is no way to account for every potentiality. Master the fundamentals and basic tactics, and they will give you the advantage in a fight.

Use the 5 tips above to improve your skills starting today!


Stay Sharp,