No-Gun Defense

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



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,


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,


Krav Maga, Systema, UFC/Mixed “martial arts”, Brazilian jujitsu (BJJ), and boxing are just a few examples of what we mean when we say “fighting system(s)”. These could be summarized briefly by saying: A fighting system is a specific standard of styles and techniques developed to train individuals to fight, specifically against others using the same system. For example, boxing is most effective against other boxers it is not as compatible with, say, BJJ. I have no intentions of taking anything away from fighting systems, I have in the past and continue to train in various fighting systems. What I do intend to do here is provide you with a working knowledge of fighting systems and how they work.

What fighting systems do, and do well: Teach you to fight.  They are effective and efficient at teaching you how to strike, where to strike, and hopefully defense against the same. Well, at least the good ones will. Just like anything else in this world, there are good systems and bad systems. Thankfully there is a slight reprieve in this department; the good ones flourish and many of the bad ones die out. Notice the “many” in that last sentence.

There is a very dangerous reality lurking just beneath the surface here. Many of the bad systems die out, but many is not all. That means that are several systems out there that are down right terrible, and quite frankly dangerous. I cannot tell you how many videos I have seen where a self-proclaimed expert is giving “advice” on how to fight. I am often left shaking my head in disbelief with a low hanging jaw from what I have just seen. Many things I have seen will get you seriously hurt, if not killed in real combat.

So, in light of that fact I strongly encourage you to do some homework before subscribing to a system. You must find one that has a positive reputation and that you can perform and practice well. If you have some physical ailment that prohibits you from getting up and down from the floor BJJ may not be for you.

The final positive aspect we will discuss here is time. You do not have to subscribe to a fighting system for years before you begin to become truly effective in combat. Most training centers offer something along the lines of a Mon/Wed/Fri 7-8 pm training regimen. With that cycle I would say within a year you will begin to flourish as a fighter, assuming that the system is not garbage, the instructor is good, and you leave everything you have on the mats. You will only get out of it what you put into it.

Now, what they do not do well: Change you physicality and psychology. Let me just address that little scoff I heard there real quick. Yes, fighting systems, if trained properly will make you stronger and more mentally resilient. But I assure you they will not have the same impact that martial arts will, but that is part 3 of this series. You may become more flexible, and you may be able to do more push-ups, and maybe you will find yourself saying you can’t less and less. I can say this with confidence and authority after practicing both fighting and martial arts for about a decade and studying for longer: The physical and psychological change that you experience through the study and practice of martial arts is unparalleled. 

 I highly encourage you to look into fighting systems. There are far too many to list here but an internet search will provide you with a great deal of information and direction. These are not for everyone and they may not be for you, and that is OK; but there is only one way to find out. Watch some videos, visit some local training centers and see what if anything is a fit for you. Be prudent in your research and choose wisely, for I caution you against hopping from one system to another before you can gain anything from one. Once you decide, you need to stick with a system for a minimum of 6 months, preferably about a year. Anything worth doing, takes time and effort; anything worth your time and effort had better be worth doing…

What can we learn?

  • Fighting systems are valuable and have their place
  • Fighting systems are different from martial arts
  • If you just want to fight, learn a fighting system
  • Do your homework before settling on a fighting system, once you start you need to stick with it for some time
  • Anything worth doing, takes time and effort; anything worth your time and effort had better be worth doing

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,



STOP! GET BACK! NO! These, are words; shocker right? You know what else is shocking? Most of us don’t use them in moments of danger. I have done my fair share of scenario training. More often than not in my debriefing and review, the instructor and I both agree that I could have used my words more.

Here is why I, and we, don’t use our words in high stress situations: In a “survival stress” situation our heart rate goes above 145 beats per minute. Our brain goes into survival mode at that point and we no longer think logically and in organized sequence. We think like the stereotypical caveman: “Gun, move, run, shoot, ahh!” is about as close as we can get to a comprehensive thought.

When we go into this mode, forming a thought is difficult enough. Turning that thought into communicable words is something else entirely. In primal mode our brain can only think in single compartments, one at a time. Talking  takes a compartment and moving and reacting takes a compartment. To be able to operate two compartments at the same time under survival stress conditions two things are possible, and one of them have to happen.

One: you are able to maintain a heart rate of under 145 bpm in a life or death situation. There is an exceptionally small number of people on this planet that can do this. Outside of an anomaly, these people are those that live in combat. They have spent so much time in combat, the stress of it has become diluted and is no longer exceptional.

Two: You train, and train a lot… Your run scenarios designed to increase your heart rate and elevate stress, then, you react appropriately; all while the instructor is yelling at you to use your words. I assure you, the reminder from the instructor will be the only way you remember to speak at first.

Using our words is important for a couple of reasons. First it helps establish that you are the victim to the witnesses. If there are any witnesses you have just told all of them by shouting as loud as you can “NO, STOP, GET BACK” or something to that effect. Secondly it helps you exhale. When striking and fighting, exhaling on force makes you more powerful. When you sync your strikes with your words, you naturally exhale, adding force to your strike.

I know that using words in high stress situations is no easy task, I do. However, as with so many aspects of self defense we can train ourselves to overcome some natural responses. Speaking during a survival stress situation is not a natural action, therefore, we must train it into our response. A little time and a little effort will be worth it. Words are not likely to dissuade someone on hell bent on violence. Your words will help you physically and psychologically, it’s worth the effort.

What can we learn?

  • Words are good and can be helpful
  • It is hard to use words in survival stress situations without training
  • Scenario training is a great mechanism and I highly recommend it.
  • Exhale during a strike to gain power, words naturally help you do this

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,

One round started with Christina Grimmie. In the weeks that followed her murder in Orlando we saw several sensationalized murders. Thanks to the news media, and America’s sometimes disturbing infatuation with murder, murders are often sensationalized. If anyone famous is killed, commits suicide, some form of mass murder, and or critical incident occur, the media pours all resources and attention into the incident for days and weeks.

The compound danger of this sensationalization is when there is one publicized mass murder the likely hood of a secondary event goes through the roof! I told my wife that we can expect to see another incident very soon, just hours before the Pulse Orlando Shooting. Mass murder, assassinations, stalkers upping the ante, and so on all cause a ripple effect. It emboldens those planning a similar attack. It shows them that such attacks can be successful, that there are others out there doing the same thing, and that they will be “insta-famous”.

When people are looking at or planning an attack, they may be deterred by security, police, or threat of punishment. However, when one person carries out a successful attack it proves to the person that, up to this point has been hesitant to carry out any fantasies, it can be done after all. So, in an effort to ride the media frenzy started by the other person the next murder is ready to move forward.

In mass murder cases, these psychopaths are striving to break the previous body count record. They will be famous and everyone will know their name if they kill the most. Their names will go down in history as carrying out this act. Without digressing into another topic about the psychology of a mass murderer, suffice it to say, they need to be seen and heard, even if it is their last act on earth.

The same concept is applied with group mentality. A group is far more dangerous than an individual; because the individual in the group will do more that he/she would ever do on their own. All it takes is one person to start the train moving, then we have an explosion of incidents. Just a week after Christina Grimmie’s murder, we saw another Voice competitor killed.

The American people by in large have an extremely short attention span and can only focus on one thing at a time. So, when the media decides to dump all of its resources into sensationalizing a particular event, everybody will hear about it, in turn, the murder becomes famous and a house hold name. If I was willing to spread the names of those murders (which I will not do unless necessary) you would likely have heard all of their names before.

When one crazed man with a gun shoots up a mall the chance of other events, similar in nature increases. So, what does this mean for you and protection of yourself? A few things. You need to keep your eyes and ears open, look for pre-attack indicators, take threats seriously, and be prepared to run, hide, or fight. You have to have a plan for every place you go. When you go to a restaurant, know all of the exits, look for cover and concealment. When you go to the “game” be very aware of what is going on in common areas, report abandon bags and suspicious people. Above all, trust your gut. We are designed with this amazing thing called intuition, learn to trust it and embrace it.

What can we learn?

  • The media causes a lot of problems. They create problems that don’t even exist.
  • Mass murderers want to be famous, and stalkers want to “be with” their victims.
  • There is compounding danger in sensationalizing murders.
  • It only takes one killer to be successful to ignite an explosion of incidents.
  • Be engaged in your environment and pay attention.
  • Trust your gut, if something does not feel right or look right, trust yourself.

Stay Sharp,