Thursday, May 10, 2012

Flawed Personal Defense Logic

        Self-Defense Instructors often form biases based on their individual experiences and training.Gun guys will see the gun as the solution to every defense problem and those from Military backgrounds will often filter Civilian self-defense through that perspective to try and make scenarios and solutions fit in with their training.The problem is real-world self-defense is not a Military battle nor a Police action.Case in point is Clint Smith who runs Thunder Ranch. I respect Mr. Smith, but can't help but notice that he has a very limited view of what encompasses self-defense for the Civilian.
        Clint wrote an article entitled Personal Tactics and Awareness which appeared in American Handgunner's Personal Defense 2008 special edition issue. In one section Clint stated the following....

         "The range to the threat falls logically into three distances.First would be muzzle-contact,as in the threat at a distance their hands can touch you.This is very dangerous ground for fighting,contact gunfire,weapon retention and the fact it may negate or even delete even expert skill with guns. Knives and even Martial Art type skill should be considered.Whenever possible, or as soon as possible,a break of this contact would probably be best for the majority.If you're Bruce Lee or Luke Short incarnate,then go for it.The rest of us should back up.
        Second would be the "hole", generally described as just at arms length for both fighters.The proximity to the threat again negates skills.Everyone is a good shot at extended arms distances. You shoot them with a 1911 and they shoot they back with a cheapo .25 in the crotch-perfect.
          Third would be long range,and in my world this equates to about the width and length of a room or vehicle.There can be some work, yet my effort to extend the distance will probably be advantageous in the long run. So,anything creating distance provides time for decision-making and sometimes distance allows for better decisions. Distance provides time for marksmanship,and more distance could mean more or better or marksmanship or so it seems to work."

           Real civilian self-defense situations generally take place at 3 yards and under, so that is the ranges we should be most focused on rather than treat them as an after-thought as Mr. Smith does. He continually talks about creating distance as if it's something that is always available to the defender when that simply isn't true. He also repeats that close ranges negates skill. What does he even mean by that comment? Most modern reality-based self-defense instructors spend the majority of their time teaching and developing skill in close quarter ranges with guns, knives, sticks and bare hands. How does Mr. Smith propose to create this distance he speaks of since he doesn't spend much time cultivating skill in this range and most fights erupt suddenly face to face with ambush style attacks.Your assailant will not likely broadcast his nefarious intent from across the street and if you have such ample distance or were able to create it you would likely have time to escape and shooting would not be ethically or legally justified unless he was armed and point a gun or actually shooting at you. Distance and a drawn firearm would likely end most defense situations unless it was indeed an actual gun fight and those are extremely rare for Civilians and you're better of moving to cover/concealment or shooting while moving to cover/concealment than drawing and shooting from a static position or location unless you are already there.
             There are ways to create distance, but you will have to be well versed in the skills to be able to do so safe and effective and that involves more than simply backing up. Last I checked, most people can move forward faster than backwards plus there is the added time of having to draw your weapon, so we are going to have to deal with an initial attack with other integrated skills, tactical L's, lateral and circular evasive and defensive movements and tactics etc. before even transitioning to the firearm and even then if it's justified. What if you are knocked to the ground or have an assailant of top of you? There is no creating distance until your up on your feet and you need skills beyond marksmanship to accomplish that. Real-World self-defense takes a myriad of integrated skill and you must be able to effectively in all ranges especially the close ones where it will almost always start. 
           Mr.Smith's comment...... "Whenever possible,or as soon as possible,a break of this contact would probably be best for the majority. If you're Bruce Lee or Luke Short incarnate,then go for it. The rest of us should back up."    really struck me as irresponsible on two different fronts. First is that often breaking contact once engaged may indeed actually be the very worst thing to do tactically for gaining control or disarming depending on the circumstances and if & with what the assailant is armed as well as the timing or timeline of what is occurring at the moment in the particular incident. Or perhaps a temporary or momentary disengagement to reset, evade or gain position is what's warranted . If your unarmed and he has a gun that your grappling for, obviously disengaging will likely get you shot.You would not disengage from or "back up" from an assailant that you have disarmed or gained and let him regain his weapon or attack you again. Avoiding the conflict or escaping it altogether is ideal, but  the matter of escape once engaged  is a nuanced subject and is done so only if is safer or tactically better to do so although I feel it will most often likely be the most sound tactic. However, running or trying to escape from an attacker that is faster than you and armed with a knife or a club might very well get you stabbed in the back or hit over the head from behind.There's lot of specific sceanrio variables to contend with & explore as to when an escape is best accomplished. Backing up, tactical L's, lateral movement,circular movements whether strategic or purely defensive are situational specific as there is no one single best answer that applies to every scenario and what is occurring at a particular point in time of the specific incident.Smith is referring to backing up/creating space to draw a firearm, but the assailant will not stand likely idly by and let you do that since he is the aggressor that attacked you in the first place which leads me into my second point.
             I use the word assailant rather than opponent since we are referring to self-defense means we didn't start the conflict nor do we wish for it. Mr.Smith says "go for it" if you have superior abilities, but everyone else should back up or break the contact. Personal Defense special edition annual was the name of the name of the magazine his article appeared in not Street-Fighting special edition annual and such thinking has no place in self-defense and is in stark contrast contradicting the true nature of self-defense since if one can avoid the situation or escape it safely, then it is their moral, ethical & usually legal obligation to do so and what real self-defense is all about.