Posted by – September 9, 2009
I just read this post The Calm in the Storm over at Low Tech Combat, and I have few criticisms.
Full force training. Certainly if we need to perform a skill under stress we should have some practice in that skill under stress. Ideally we would be training in as close as we can to “actual combat conditions,” but there are limits to how well we can simulate this environment, and more importantly the student needs some ability to perform the skills required before applying stress.
If you can’t do it under perfect conditions what chance do you have under combat conditions?
Relaxed Training. Is where you learn new skills. Ideally drilling parts of the skill in isolation and building to a complete technique. I can take a new shooter and scream “speed reload” at him until I am blue in the face and eventually the fumbling will accomplish getting the gun reloaded, but not in a timely or efficient fashion. This also holds true with combatives techniques. Until a technique has been rehearsed without resistance and time pressure it has very little hope of becoming consistent. If you can’t do it under perfect conditions what chance do you have under combat conditions?
Stressed in training, calm in reality. This an excellent goal, and from what I have observed: confident, successful, application of technique comes from first training the skill in a low stress environments and after achieving proficiency, then ratcheting up the realism. I completely agree that you ultimately have to progress to executing techniques in realistic scenarios under realistic stress if you want the best chance at executing successful techniques in the real world.
Posted by – August 31, 2009
After the comments in this post, I felt I should explain a few concepts again that some people seem to be confused about.
Disengagement. This is a complicated way of saying “running away” (or used preemptively, “don’t be there.”) Obviously this perfectly sound advice and I am in complete agreement that this a very good idea for staying out of both danger and legal trouble. It is not the ultimate trump card that some make it out to be simply because there are situations where you cannot run away from, either for practical reasons (no available path of escape) or moral reasons (running would mean you leaving your child or spouse to face the danger alone.) In terms of self defense as a private citizen we are always working towards disengagement, but we must recognize that there might need to be intervening steps between the beginning of the confrontation and our finally being able to disengage.
Deescalation. Deescalation is the process of being (or at least appearing to be) reasonable and or conciliatory, in the hopes of diffusing a potentially dangerous situation. This is what is known as “talking your way out” of fighting. Most people have some basic idea of how this works, and the better and more practiced at it you are the more applicable it becomes. I consider deescalation to be a core self defense skill and should get at least as much thought and attention as learning to shoot or fight. Unfortunately many situations cannot be deescalated through reason, compromise, or dialogue. This is where pacifism fails: some people are ideologically bent upon causing you harm and they are not going to be dissuaded by discussion.
Verbal Commands. A verbal command is a stated demand for compliance. This generally implies that there will be consequences for non-compliance and those consequences include the application of a higher level of force than verbal commands. I think this is where a lot of generic self defense curriculum goes awry, because if there isn’t a credible ability to use force after issuing verbal commands it simply amounts to a bluff. Should a subject comply with the commands then that might create an opportunity for using deescalation and/or disengagement.
Application of Violence. Hopefully, there was an opportunity in a developing situation to apply the previously mentioned steps and something (or some combination) was effective. Other times a situation can require the immediate application of violence because of the nature of the threat and the circumstances. Ideally the amount of violence will be the minimum that is sufficient to stop the attack. In the wider self defense community the martial arts purists seem to think that they can fight their way out of every situation (except for those that believe an armed assailant is instant death) and the firearms purists who believe that any physical altercation is justification for gunfire. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. As a general guideline, you will have an easier time (legally speaking) if you can stop an attack using something less than lethal force – even if you are not required by law to do so.
Posted by – August 20, 2009
From reading the comments about Handgun retention it seems like a lot of people believe that a “retention holster” (of whatever level) does something more than buy you a little time. A thumb snap is not a replacement for retention training.
Posted by – July 23, 2009
So after this post about pepper spray and the commentary here it seems like a lot of people are still not getting my point.
Using less lethal in deadly force scenarios. Nobody would choose to fight a knife wielding attacker with their fists if they had anything else available. Seeing as how fist fighting is more force than pepper spray, clearly pepper spray is not the answer to deadly force attacks.
Bypassing less lethal tools in deadly force scenarios. There is a lot of confusion about the use of force continuum. Law enforcement has been addressing this in their training for at least a decade: it’s not a ladder and you don’t have to touch every rung. A lethal threat warrants a lethal response. An escalating situation (as most are) provides room for stopping the fight before it becomes a deadly force encounter.
Liability of not using less lethal in deadly force scenarios. This theory that having pepper spray and not using it in a deadly force situation is going to somehow expose you to more legal liability is totally spurious. This is like saying you better not take a martial art, because you will be expected to use some ninja move instead of your firearm. I don’t shoot because I don’t know how to do anything else, I shoot because my training has told me that this is only appropriate response to the circumstance.
Pepper spraying people is trivial. Especially in comparison to shooting people. If you can effect a stop with pepper spray then you aren’t going to be justifying your shooting in court. This is the most likely case: bad guy gets sprayed and quits. Some people are trying to optimize their equipment selection for defending themselves against manslaughter charges: “I carry nothing but deadly force tools”. I would recommend optimizing for winning the fight in a way that gets you the least involvement with the legal system.
I’d just run away. So would I, if I could. This stops being the perfect answer as soon as you are a better runner than your significant other or children. If they aren’t within arms reach it could very well turn into you needing to stand and fight while they get away.
I’d just shoot them. Ultimately I see a lot of people painting themselves into a corner where they are going to have to pull the trigger in order to have any self defense response. I hear a lot of talk in training circles about “lethal force options.” Lethal force is not optional, it’s mandatory. If I had a choice to make I would choose something other than shooting. Lethal force is what happens when all those options are taken away. If I am not facing a deadly force threat then shooting isn’t even an option.