Know This About Close Quarters Combat

Since handguns are projectile weapons, it’s easy to assume that if you were to fire at an assailant who posed a deadly threat, it would be from a distance far greater than arm’s length. While distance is generally favorable to the defensive handgunner, it’s a luxury we don’t always have, and close quarters combat takes a different set of skills.

Any number of factors can affect the distance from which we are attacked and, therefore, the amount of time we have to respond. It could be we’re less attentive than we should be and fail to recognize a potential threat until it is upon us, or maybe the crook’s behavior doesn’t telegraph his intent to accost us. After all, a mugger would starve to death if he demanded an intended victim’s money from so far a distance the potential victim had time to draw a gun or escape.

Another possibility is that what starts out as a conversation leads to an argument then to close quarters combat. Even if you detect potential danger, an assailant can close distance with surprising speed. Think you’ll have time to respond?

Well, thanks to Dennis Tueller’s research, we know the average person can cover a distance of 21 feet in about 1.5 seconds. This happens to be about the same time it takes a reasonably proficient shooter to draw and fire two center of mass hits. Keep in mind a “tie” in such a scenario could result in you being seriously injured or worse.

Regardless of the circumstances, there are some nuances specific to close quarter combat you need to be aware of. First, you need to realize that attempting to draw your gun without first addressing an assailant’s weapon is a good way to get shot, stabbed or bludgeoned. Second, in close quarters combat, the role of your off hand becomes critical because it will be used to defend, control or strike as appropriate.

Third, you need to be proficient in shooting with your gun indexed to your chest. In this position you are more capable of retaining the gun, but you’ll have to “aim” it without using the sights. Last but certainly not least, the final element of your close quarters combat repertoire is aggressiveness.

When faced with a deadly threat in close quarters combat, the natural tendency is to reach for your handgun. In close quarters, this tactic is dangerous because your assailant has a head start. Yes, bringing your gun into play is a high priority, but you must negate the attacker’s weapon in order to facilitate your draw.

If the weapon is static, as would be the case when an assailant holds you at gunpoint, knifepoint, metal pipe-point or what have you, your task is far simpler than if the weapon is in motion. When you’re accosted by someone who’s only threatening with a weapon as opposed to pulling the trigger or actively trying to cut you or strike you, the action versus reaction principle works in your favor. In such case, the attacker may certainly try to harm you, but his intent is likely to first gain your compliance by threatening you with a weapon.

For example, an armed assailant may demand your wallet or other valuables, or worse yet, he may order you into a vehicle or to a more remote area to lessen the odds of him being caught. If, based on the circumstances, you feel that handing over your wallet, watch or whatever else the assailant demands will satisfy him, then by all means cooperate. Keep in mind, however, that cooperating with an armed attacker does not guarantee your safety. After getting what he wants, he may decide not to leave a witness to his crime.

When an assailant intends to move you from one location to another, it’s probably best to make your stand and engage in close quarters combat. Rarely does being taken to another location end well for the victim.

Get Off-Line

Against a static weapon, the fastest way to get off-line of the attack is to move the attacker’s weapon-bearing arm and your body in different directions simultaneously. If you’re carrying a holstered gun along the right side of your waist, using your left hand to redirect the weapon enables you to draw your gun with your right hand. Rather than simply slapping the assailant’s arm away, grab his wrist and force the arm away. This affords you better control.

Be mindful of your off hand as you draw in close quarters combat; try not to let the muzzle of your gun sweep across your arm or hand.

Speaking of your off hand, most shooters are taught to bring this hand to their chest as they draw so the gun is positioned to join their shooting hand as the gun is driven toward the threat. This makes perfect sense when the assailant is several feet away, but in close quarters combat, bringing your off hand to your chest is dangerous.

When your off hand is against your chest in close quarters combat, it offers no protection from incoming attacks. It’s much more beneficial to use your off hand to shield your head or, better yet, to strike or shove the assailant to take his balance and create enough distance to draw your gun.

Of course, when your off hand is in play, there’s a chance it could wind up in front of the muzzle of your gun. In a close quarters combat encounter, you may inadvertently sweep the muzzle of your gun past a portion of your body, which is why it’s critical to keep your finger out of the trigger guard until you’re on target and have made a conscious decision to fire. You can mitigate the risk of your off hand crossing the muzzle by indexing the gun to your chest.

Though you may not realize it, indexing your gun to your chest is a natural component of your draw stroke. A proper index involves your elbow rising to full extension with the heel of your hand pressed against your chest. Your hand should be canted outward (clockwise for a right-handed shooter) to keep the slide from snagging on your clothing.

Indexing your gun to your body is beneficial in two ways. First, with the gun against your body, it’s far less accessible to the suspect. Even if he does manage to grab it, you will have the leverage needed to retain it. Second, with a consistent index, you can fire predictably placed rounds in close quarters combat without having to see the sights on your handgun. When your hips and shoulders square to the threat and your gun is indexed to your chest, your body aims your gun.

Pelvic Shot

From this indexed position, your muzzle will likely be angled slightly downward. At arm’s length, this may result in any shots hitting the assailant’s pelvis. The pelvis—or pelvic girdle, as it sometimes referred to—is a widely accepted secondary target when rounds to the chest are ineffective because the assailant is wearing body armor, is under the influence of drugs, or is just hell bent on attacking you until his body literally shuts down.

While a pelvis shot may not immediately incapacitate your adversary, one or more shots to this structure is likely to prevent it from supporting the assailant’s weight, in essence rendering him immobile.

Of course, being shot anywhere (particularly multiple times at close range) is likely to generate a “psychological stoppage” because the assailant’s mindset is transformed from attack mode to self-preservation mode.

With your muzzle oriented at the pelvis and your off hand either protecting your head or, ideally, in contact with the assailant’s head, there’s less chance of your hand or arm crossing in front of the muzzle. Unfortunately, during close quarters combat, it may not be feasible to use the index position. For instance, if you were to direct the assailant’s weapon-bearing arm downward, you would risk shooting your own hand by delivering rounds from the index position. In such case, targeting the assailant’s head may be a better option.

In close quarters combat, aggressiveness reigns supreme. When a murderous criminal grabs hold of you, many of the fundamentals of marksmanship are meaningless. Stance, grip and follow-through are still applicable, but sight alignment, sight picture, trigger control and breath control are of little consequence. Understanding the importance of aggression is one thing, but translating that aggression into an effective technique is quite another.

As a rookie police officer, I remember being taught a technique called the Speed Rock. This technique entails leaning your upper body back to facilitate your draw stroke when faced with a deadly threat in extreme close quarters combat. The rationale behind the Speed Rock makes sense. By leaning away, you’re able to create a few inches of space and steal a few ticks off the clock. Theoretically, this would allow you to bring your gun in to play.

However, in application, the Speed Rock fails to account for the fact that by leaning your upper body away, you’re compromising your own balance and inviting an aggressive assailant to literally run you over. You may be forced to employ the Speed Rock in a close quarters combat situation where you are shoved back against an object such as a railing or a vehicle; however, your goal should always be to take the assailant’s balance. Make him backpedal. Make him Speed Rock!

In the martial arts, there’s an adage, “Where the head goes, the body follows.” One of the simplest ways to take a person’s balance is to elevate his chin with your palm. With his head tilted back, you can drive an assailant back on his heels rather easily. As he’s backpedaling, he’ll be more concerned with regaining his balance than harming you. If the assailant attacked you with a deadly weapon, you could then shoot him from the index position then disengage and assess from a two-handed sighted-fire position.

You’re not merely striking his chin with your palm. While this may be an effective strike, the assailant need only take a step back to regain his balance. Rather than striking the assailant and retracting your arm, drive your palm under his chin and literally run forward, directly at the assailant. He’ll have little choice but move backward. At this point, you will have gained the upper hand, essentially turning predator into prey.

If you’re caught off guard by an armed assailant, the fact that you’re an excellent shot carries little weight. In order to prevail, you will need to have prepared specifically for this fast-paced, unforgiving realm of close quarters combat.

Resist the urge to draw your gun without first addressing the bad guy’s weapon. Realize the important role of your off hand in the fight. When possible in close quarters combat, index the gun to your chest for optimal retention and effective unsighted aiming of your handgun. And most importantly, ramp up your aggression. Being defensive is no way to win a close-quarter gunfight.


Hand To Hand Combat Refresher

A punch is thrown, and the officer moves to deflect and redirect it. In a flash the assailant is on the ground with little understanding of how they got there.

Just as quickly the officer is on top of them, applying handcuffs. While this has a modern-day feel to it, this episode could have taken place almost anywhere on earth for the last several thousand years. There is an undeniable link between modern defensive tactics taught in police academies, military bases and security institutes and the ancient dojo.

While the modern police academy defensive tactics room looks little like a martial arts dojo, the lessons remain the same. Training gi’s are replaced with T-shirts and sweats. The sword is now an expandable baton, and the warrior wears a badge instead of a family crest. The techniques are taught in a slightly different manner, but the lessons remain the same. While possibly an oversimplification, these lessons can be broken down into five sections. First up is striking.

Strike Through It

The idea of striking an adversary seems to be a simple matter. They attack you, and you throw a punch in reply. This is an oversimplification of effective technique, however. Senseis and drill instructors teach the same thing: If you are going to hit something, strike through it. To make contact with the surface and stop will result in a less-than-effective strike. By striking as if you are aiming at a point beyond your initial contact, you will get much deeper penetration into your target. Additionally, you are taught to strike with your entire body. A relaxed body concentrated behind a punch or kick allows the transfer of much more energy into the subject. This is essential for those who may not possess great strength or size.

Lock It Up

Another essential skill in any combatives program is joint locking and manipulation. All officers must have the ability to manipulate a subject’s joints in order to not only control them but also to handcuff them as well. The world of joint manipulation is vast and complicated, yet pieces can be cut out for those wearing a badge. The primary principle behind joint control is moving a joint against its normal direction. This is accomplished by moving the joint away from the subject’s center to weaken it, then using your entire body to turn and control the joint.

The most common control points are the wrist and elbows. Used correctly, these controls can provide pain compliance and, more importantly, mechanical compliance. They can incapacitate an assailant and keep them from causing any further injury. A unique aspect of joint manipulations is their dual application nature. These controls allow an officer to control a subject, but if need be, they can break joints as well. If an assailant continues to be dangerous, an officer can damage a joint to a degree that the subject cannot utilize it in a continued assault. While not preferred, the option is available.

Combative Grappling

In many cases, combative events end up on the ground. This, coupled with the huge popularity of MMA and the belief by many assailants that they are the next UFC champion, makes strong grappling skills a must. The difference, however, is that combative grappling is not a sport. There are no tap-outs or referees. The main goal in combative grappling is to either disable the assailant quickly or to get back onto your feet. The opportunity for the assailant’s friends to kick an officer in the head while they roll is very high. Even after an officer or soldier does disable an opponent, they need to get to their
feet as quickly as possible.

Using Weapons

The world of weapons in our context goes be-yond firearms. A student of combatives must have both offensive and defensive skills with a variety of weapons. The two most common are edged weapons and impact weapons. Edged weapons are extremely dangerous in that they are easily concealed, easy to use and silent. Traditional disarming techniques follow three components: Get off the line of attack, control the weapon and then control the assailant. The introduction of an edged weapon also elevates the event to a deadly-force incident. If the person is willing to take your life, then they should be considered a deadly, dedicated adversary. A kinetic response to the attack must be swift and overwhelming.

Much of this applies to the introduction of an impact weapon as well. The flipside of this coin are skills that allow an officer or soldier offensive skills with these weapons. Training with impact weapons is common and for the most part is adequate. Offensive edged weapons training is almost non-existent, however. Without going into too much detail, the use of blades in traditional training is based on stopping the adversary. The most effective way to do this is to stab. Slashing does damage but is not nearly as effective as penetration into internal organs. This is a lethal-force option when a firearm is not available.

Survival Mindset

Of all the relevant training that has flowed from the dojo to the training room, focusing the mind is the most important. Samurai would dedicate years in training their mind to stay focused and calm during conflict. While the methods of mental training have changed, the lesson remains the same. A calm mind allows for more options to present themselves. Panic and overwhelming fear can cause irrational behavior and less-than-effective responses to threats. There is a Japanese phrase that sums up the most critical lesson in mental training: dochu-no-sei or “calmness in action.”

In the end, there is little that differentiates modern students of combatives from ancient ones. Society has advanced to a great degree, yet there will always be those who wish to do harm to the innocent. Those who stand as guardians of the weak will always be the product of warrior training. They have been and will always be the product of sweat, pain and mental focus.


4 Scenarios to Get the Tactical Advantage

By CTD Blogger in How To, Safety and Training

The right of self-defense is among the most basic of human rights, and the majority of us own, and/or carry a firearm to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Depending on the state you live in, you may be able to obtain a CCW permit and take on the additional responsibility of self-defense. However, having a firearm and the law on your side does not automatically translate into good self-defense. You’ll need situational awareness, quick reactions, solid weapons handling skills, and a good outcome in the event of a violent attack. But first, you’ll need plan and train yourself to respond effectively to a threat in several common scenarios can vastly improve your chances of surviving and eliminating the threat.

Car Jacking Get-Away Tactics

Here are four scenarios that once mastered, will serve as the basics that you can modify and rely on later should you find yourself in a self-defense situation.

Scenario 1

You’re walking in a parking garage, descending a flight of steps, and an attacker confronts you.

Elements to Remember

  • Mindset: If you don’t think you can use deadly force, don’t carry a firearm. Instead, opt for a less than lethal option such as a taser, pepper spray or CQB striking device, and do not concern yourself with the remainder of this article.
  • Clothing for Concealed Carry: Wear a loose shirt or jacket that allows you to easily access your weapon. It’s best to sew in a small weight into the hem of the shirt, so when you sweep it back it will swing out of the way and not interfere with the draw. Loose change in a jacket pocket also works well.
  • Practice: Run through this scenario drawing and firing with an unloaded weapon until you can do it smoothly in 2-4 seconds. IDPA matches at a local range require you to draw from concealment and make excellent practice for real world variations of this practice.

Scenario 2

Driving in a vehicle and facing a carjacking or road rage incident.

Elements to Remember

  • Mindset: Always be aware of your surroundings when stopped at a light, parked, or driving slowly through an alley or behind stores where an attacker can surprise you. Drive through ATMs, especially at night, have you in a funnel where you can easily be trapped. Think about how an assailant might attack, and be aware of what is around or behind the you. If you cannot easily turn to see behind you, do not be afraid to use the car’s backup camera if so equipped.
  • Clothing: Don’t carry on your person where interference from a seatbelt or your elbow hitting the seat as you attempt to draw can hinder your ability to access your weapon. However, if you are carrying on your person, all hope is not lost. The Shooter’s Log recently ran a video showing, while not ideal, how to draw and engage from this situation.
  • Vehicle Attachments: Consider a gun magnet which can be easily mounted near the steering wheel for a quick grab/draw.

Scenario 3

Attacker grabbing young boy

While walking, an attacker approaches and attacks from behind.

Elements to Remember

  • In this scenario, traditional advice has been to clasp your keys like a weapon to strike an attacker, or to throw them far away from you in hopes of giving yourself time to run. This assumes the attack is a carjacking. What if it’s a violent personal assault or a kidnapping? Never carry your keys in your gun hand; always keep them in your support hand. Likewise, if you are on the phone, hold it in your support hand.
  • Instead of turning away from your car to confront the attacker, immediately turn inside and either drop or throw your keys directly at him with your support hand, while simultaneously drawing your weapon with your gun hand.
  • If you are carrying groceries, a purse, workout bag, laptop, cellphone, etc., use it as a weapon of distraction by hurling it at your attacker as hard and as quickly as possible.

Scenario 4

Entering or exiting your car when an attacker is close enough to grab you.

Elements to Remember

  • You are at your most vulnerable entering or exiting your vehicle. Stop, look around and assess the situation before getting out. When pulling into your garage, close the door before unlocking or getting out of your vehicle. Knowing your surroundings, noticing who’s around you and their body language and staying in the “condition yellow” cautionary awareness is crucial.
  • If someone approaches you under the ruse of asking for directions, spare change, etc. and manages to get hands on you, push or kick violently against the attacker to offset their balance enough that you can access your handgun and shoot from retention. This is when having the proper gear is critical. A holster that allows your gun to fall out or is too difficult for you to manipulate under pressure could prove disastrous.

The Tactical Advantage

Ultimately, carrying a concealed weapon is an enormous responsibility that requires you to understand your skill set and be prepared to use deadly force (carrying a round in the chamber). You must also have good weapons handling instruction, so you don’t become a victim of your own gun. Practice regularly at the shooting range until acquiring a sight picture, drawing and firing is committed to muscle memory. Staying in the “yellow” cautionary mindset, and rehearse every step, so if the time ever comes, you could maintain the tactical advantage that saves your life.

Take advantage of your rights.

What scenarios do practice or have committed to memory? What elements would you add to these scenarios? Share your answers in the comment section.

Back To The Wall

Here is a situational awareness tip for while in a crowd (or anywhere) and how to avoid looking over your shoulder while still accomplishing the same thing – seeing what would be behind you or out of your field of vision — and avoiding any ‘surprises’.

Instead of looking over your shoulder, position yourself such that your back is against a surface.

When you are standing or sitting (perhaps waiting) within a crowd (or anywhere – regardless of a crowd or not), or while you’re at an event of some sort or waiting for a train, a plane, etc.. you obviously cannot see behind you. You have some peripheral vision, which may be effective out to an angle of 140 or 160 degrees if you are ‘aware’, but that’s about it…

You have a blind spot (a zone) of approximately 220 degrees. There’s a lot that could be happening in this zone and unless you hear it, feel it, or smell it, you won’t know it’s there.

If your back is up against or near a strategic surface (a wall, a pillar, a tree, a building, etc..) you will have the advantage of seeing your environment while potentially avoiding any ‘surprises’ behind you in your blind zone.

The next time you’re out in a crowd, look for strategic surfaces which you could position yourself in front of, or lean up against.

If you are simply walking and are concerned about your environment, although you cannot see what’s behind you – you might choose to walk along a wall or other such tangible or semi-tangible edges. You might casually stop once in awhile – turning enough to see what’s behind you while checking your cell phone, etc.

Sometimes having your back to the wall isn’t a bad thing, it’s the proper strategic defensive posture from which to launch your attack.

Paraphrased from Derek Paulson for The ShieldWall Network.

Whatever you do, don’t freeze!

Paraphrased from Jonathon Chambers, Patriot Vigilante

Mentally training yourself how to react in a survival situation takes practice, and that takes a commitment and some time.

According to the FBI, a home invasion happens every 20 seconds in the United States. Just one well placed kick around the door handle will break in 75% of front doors. Or a couple of hard yanks on your sliding glass door might be enough to lift the entire thing right out of its frame.

A surprise attack can cause a person to freeze, as a fast, overwhelming attack can be too much information for the mind to orient to. Fear can also cause the freeze. And the combination of fear and an overwhelming attack, even worse.

In Facing Violence, Rory Miller devotes a chapter to different types of freezes and how to break them. I don’t have enough experience with freezing or breaking freezes to go into specific examples and details for each type, but two strategies that have worked for me follow the solutions Rory offers.

The nature of a freeze is that you’re “frozen”, or not doing anything. And it’s triggered by someone or something else that is doing something. The key to preventing the freeze (and breaking a freeze) is to actively do something. This may seem obvious, but there’s more to it, as described below, and it should be a fundamental part of your self defense strategy.

Most predators will attempt to take their victims by surprise. And when you get nailed by an assault you didn’t see coming, you will at least momentarily freeze. Everyone will. First, your body and mind will be shocked by the physical nature of the assault. Second, you’ll either be completely paralysed on a primal level, stuck trying to figure out what’s going on, or you’ll pause for a moment while you switch from your everyday mind to a more aggressive state. During this period, you may very well be getting mauled by your attacker. One way to prevent this from happening is to use what’s called pre-positioning.

Pre-positioning requires you to be aware of the threat before the situation goes physical. Ideally, you’ll position yourself far, far away, and there won’t be a physical attack at all. But when you can’t avoid the threat, (and he’s closing in on you) pre-positioning involves becoming the predator yourself, mentally and physically. You pre-position yourself to attack the threat. Mentally switching from being a victim to being a predator, makes all the difference in the world. Pre-positioning is active. It involves doing something. And doing something is the opposite of freezing.

Anyone who has sparred just a bit, standing and with strikes, knows that standing flat footed, chest to chest, with your hands down, and directly in front of your opponent is a very bad idea. But circling to the outside of your opponent, for example, minimizing his options while maximizing your own, works well. Pre-positioning involves setting up your position relative to your opponent, and seeing your opponent as your prey rather than as your attacker. If he moves to attack, he’s giving you something.

He’s creating an opening that you will use to your advantage.

You’ll need to practice pre-positioning in order to understand and use it, but it should be part of your physical martial arts and self defense training. Sparring will help with your ability to pre-position.

The second strategy, conditioning effective default responses to various types of attacks, is a last ditch option when you are attacked by surprise. If you’ve conditioned yourself to unconsciously respond to a physical assault, even if you are surprised by the attack, your body will execute the conditioned response. Immediately after the response, you may freeze as you try to figure out what just happened. Hopefully, your training will kick in and you’ll continue to act as quickly as possible.