While studying the art of law enforcement at the academy, Officer Chris Beck achieved the status ‘Top Gun’ — or, simply stated, marksman. Believing that a police officer can never have enough training in the use of handguns, Beck continued to practice in his off time. Spending any free hours at either a shooting range or a distant site in the desert, he taught himself to shoot accurately right-handed, left-handed, or with both hands from any position – stationary or moving – pushing himself until his skill was honed to perfection. Often, a police officer is the only protective barrier between civilians and imminent danger. Training and mindset are the only things standing between a police officer and potential death, as Beck’s story shows…
At the time I had been an active duty police officer for about four years in the city of Compton, CA. This particular day l was making my mid-morning rounds, enjoying a coffee break with a friend when the call came in: man with a gun was as much detail as the dispatcher could offer.
There’s no such thing as “routine” in a police officer’s life—but, being human, we can slip into a rut. In an area like Compton, particularly the ghetto areas of the district, nine out of ten domestic disturbance calls come in described as “gun involved.” That’s because you have a lot of good people out here that are sick of seeing the drug and gang element hanging out on the corners and sidewalks— or in front of their house. They figure if you call 911, tell the dispatcher that a gun is in play, they’ll get a faster response.
Obviously, they are correct. A non-weapon, non-confrontational situation is regarded as a low priority call.
This is not to say that we don’t treat it responsibly but, unfortunately there are only so many officers on duty at any given time—so things have to be prioritized. I’ve answered dozens of calls like this, and either the suspect with the weapon has bolted before my arrival, or, in most cases, there never was one to begin with. Ironically.
I remember telling my friend, “Sit tight, I’ll be back shortly.” Maybe, just like anyone else, you watch so many cop movies where the criminal activity takes place at night, that you don’t expect violent confrontations during daylight hours. [Ed note: But as is often the case, Mr. Murphy—as in Murphy's Law—was along for the ride]
A big crowd is usually a clue that shots have been fired, but arriving at the residence, I saw only a few people milling around on the street. I was still under the impression that this could be just another bogus call.
I noticed that the door was standing open. Since I was patrolling alone, I called for a back-up unit and got an update from the dispatcher. Apparently, in the interim, the shots had been confirmed. Witnesses were specific: it was a shotgun.
I drew my weapon, a .45 Glock, and was approached the door. I announced my presence and was greeted with silence. An eerie silence, the kind you can almost hear. I knew something was wrong. Nothing else smells like gunpowder, so there was no mistaking the sharp, acrid scent that greeted me as I entered the house. Tiny holes from shotgun blasts peppered the walls and spent cartridges littered the floor. Declaring my presence again, I backed out of the house.
My back-up arrived within minutes, and he know from my stance and the fact that my weapon was in hand that this was the real thing, I told him what I knew. We agreed to call for more units and surround the dwelling.
Mow, with two police cars on scene, and with recent gunshots, you increase the number of curious onlookers around the scene. This always presents a problem.
With the house facing north, and no one inside, we took opposite sides and moved around to the backyard where I almost bumped into the suspect. It’s important to be able to read a person’s body language and positioning and demeanor in this type of encounter. If, right off the bat, you can tell that your suspect is not intent on causing harm to himself or others, it can go a long way toward determining your style of negotiation.
This individual – male, 50s – was sitting upright, casually, on a garden bench – the kind you can buy at Home Depot – with this immense double-barrel shotgun straddling his lap.
From the blank expression on his face, he could’ve been daydreaming about a failed romance. That, right there, is an immediate sign of danger: this guy is either “on” something or he’s just leaned so far over the edge that he’s fallen off. Talking to such a person is not unlike talking to a brick wall, but you absolutely have to continue verbal negotiations as long as possible.
In the firmest possible tone we demanded he release his hold on the weapon, place it on the ground and step away. No response. Meanwhile, of course, we positioned ourselves to maximize our cover. A side-by-side shotgun is a nasty invention, especially when you don’t know what he’s got loaded in it.
We repeat our demand. The suspect then stood up and bolted for the west side of the house, disappearing around the corner. As if things weren’t bad enough, the suspect was not heading for the large group of civilians around front, making the situation considerably worse. Anything was possible now. He might open fire on them at random or take a hostage – neither scenario was appealing or acceptable.
And now, of course, the danger to us was increased. In order to follow him around the house and target him correctly – and safely – we had to expose ourselves to the full bore of the weapon. We could’ve remained adequately covered and still had him in the crosshairs, so to speak, but if any one of our shots missed him – if it came down to that – the bullets would have continued past him and into the crowd out front.
When we caught up with him, the suspect was actually squatting and leaning back against an aluminum door that led to a playroom in the residence. The shotgun was cradled in his lap pointing away from us.
For the moment, he seemed calm and passive. There was a mere twenty feet between us.
I remember distinctly asking him again for the weapon, at which point he finally spoke. Since these were only words he ever uttered, l remember them clear as a bell: F—k you! You’ll have to kill me and take it out of my hands.” And in one fluid motion he uncoiled, whipped around like a snake stood to his full height, brought the shotgun to bear on us and opened fire!
The concussion felt like the wind from a door being slammed in my face. At the time, I thought he only fired one barrel; later I would learn he pulled both triggers, unleashing the full force of the weapon. I felt the pellets ripping into my face and my legs, but oddly there was no pain. My partner went down screaming, “I’m hit!” And I could see that the guy still had that thing trained
Like throwing a switch, I went into automatic mode; my training took over. When this happens, I literally ignore the target—it becomes a blur—and my point of focus becomes the sight at the end of the gun’s barrel. In the blink of an eye, I fired off nine Hydra-Shok® rounds—very proven, very reliable ammunition. Yet the blur—the target—was still standing! I’m thinking maybe my sights are off and I missed. So, refocusing on the suspect, I could see that all nine shots were good, all had made contact with center mass — his chest area—and he was still standing! So, I reacquire and fire three more times in rapid succession.
The suspect finally slumped to the ground. Moving in. I saw no movement. With my gun still trained on him, I kicked the shotgun aside, out of his reach, handcuffed him and checked for other weapons. Then I checked for vital signs and discovered of course that he was dead.
Moving back towards my partner. I examined his wounds. None appeared to be in vital areas, thankfully, and I informed him that an ambulance was en route to take him to a hospital. My partner started laughing, asking if I’d bothered to call one for myself. It was then that l remembered that l had also gotten hit. Checking myself over, I found that the little BB sized pellets from the No. 2 buckshot had penetrated my legs and face—including one that had penetrated my cheek and entered my mouth where it rolled around like an oversized piece of pepper until I spit it out. Luckily my vest had taken the brunt of the round.
It was days later, after plastic surgery for my face and an entire day in an ER having pellets removed from my legs one at a time, with a pair of tweezers, that I learned the story behind the incident. The suspect apparently was a Postal worker, blown out of his mind on a mixture of cocaine and PCP, angered at his son, who decided that a shotgun was his best route of diplomacy. I thought my job was tough.
Overall, it goes to show you that nothing can beat training. You have to do it over and over and over until it becomes second nature—an instinct that comes to the surface automatically without conscious decision. Otherwise, you will hesitate or second guess your judgment—and that can cost you your life.
–as told to Kevin Kenney
In 1989, while stationed in Ft. Gulick Panama prior to the Panama Invasion “Operation Just cause”, I had several bar room brawls, mainly in the NCO Club. We had many visiting troops from the US crowding our space on Ft. Gulick. It is a small base and we had 100’s maybe 1,000’s of visiting soldier bivouacking in our home. This caused some overcrowding and the visiting troops were there for war.
They didn’t live there and were encroaching on our territory. When you put Green Berets, garrison troopers and infantry guy’s crammed into a small place, the testosterone gets a little high and nerves sometimes get on edge. I know mine did.
I was working out and doing fight training every day at the Ft. Gulick gym and our visitors were bogarting the heavy bags, ring, weights etc. and frankly pissing me off and making me very anxious. Between that and crowding the SF guys out of our drinking hole and acting like they owned everything, I figured it was only a matter of time before tensions lead to conflict and not with the Panamanians.
It started at the gym when I was doing some fight training with my students in the boxing ring, when a few hard looking visiting soldiers came by watched for a bit and then tried to intimidate me by telling us to give them the ring so they could work out. They basically tried bullying us out of our own house. In short I invited one of them into the ring and promptly knocked him out. This is what led to the real fight later that evening over beer and shots in the NCO Club.
It was about 7 p.m. when I arrived to the club and I preceded to the bar where I was standing and drinking my beer. About an hour and a half later, the same assholes bullies from the gym showed up. I noticed them long before they noticed me. Eventually the guy I knocked out recognized me and told his friends. Next thing I noticed was they were beginning to crowd the bar to both my left and to my right.
The guy to my right about 25 years old, 6″1″ 230 muscular started giving me a ration of shit. He started by saying things to me like “so, you’re the fighter”, “you’re the bad-ass” and on and on. Needless to say I was getting aggravated and realized it was just a matter of time before a fight went down. There were 5 of them. I started to size them up, size age, left hand or right handed, which of them was going to be the biggest threat.
It just so happen it was the 6’1” guy to my right. He was kind of the leader, the big dawg! He was not the one I had knocked out earlier; I guess he felt strength in numbers, when they found me drinking alone.
At the time I was wearing my Special Forces Ring… The guy to my right told me “when you leave here tonight we are going to kick your ass” In the true TRS and Fightfast tradition, I formulated my plan and was ready to get it on. I don’t know about you, but I do not like waiting.
I believe when you wait, negative anxiety builds up and can cause you to lose power, energy and metal focus. For me it’s like pulling the handle on a slot machine, when the cherries line up on the win line, you (I) need to fire in the hole and strike. When you feel it…just go with it.
While he was running his mouth, I was turning the ring upside down where the crown was located on the inside or palm side of my finger, upside-down. Remember he had already issued the threat. All threats should be taken seriously. If someone says they are going to kick your ass while drinking, I believe you should strike first!
I took a last drink from my beer at the same time stepping backwards with my right foot, creating distance for maximum leverage. As I sat my beer down onto the bar and as I was stepping back, I had already achieved a solid base, with balance and prepared to hit him with my 3 points of leverage.
I stepped back another 6 inches and pronated my open hand, palm facing out towards the asshole. As I stepped out, I hit him right between the eyes with the Special Forces ring and blood flew from his face as he reeled backwards.
This shocked his friends and others. (I thought this would have a physiological impact on his 4 friends.)
As he lurched backward and then put his hand over his face, I used angulation and placed him between me and the others. I immediately realized the others wanted no part of me now. They were just hot air at the end of the day. I hit the first guy behind the ear and dropped him; he really never had a chance. He should have hit me and not telegraphed his intentions.
Because this was our house I was allowed to finish my drink. I was walking to the door to leave and I had a beer in a can in my right hand holding it by the top i.e. my hand was covering the top of the beer can. I guess I was going to sneak it out.
Oddly enough as I was leaving, a short Spanish guy/soldier blocked my exit by cutting me off. He had a girl on each arm and was wearing a gold chain around his neck. He asked me if I was Jim West. I said yes. He said I hear you used to work out with Joe Lewis and I said yes.
Then he said “Joe Lewis is old”.
Yep red flag radar was turned on again.
Then he grabbed his gold necklace held it up under my chin and said, “While Joe Lewis was getting old, I was earning gold”. I said wow; you know there is a lot to learn from old people.
He told me to go fuck myself and he said I ain’t shit just because I knocked the other guy out. I shrugged my shoulders and gave him a perplexed look and hit him directly on top of his head in the soft spot with the beer I was holding. I stepped back hit my base much like using a hammer fist to break a board with or chop wood.
This was very effective. It was actually funny as I hit him he went straight down and the beer can exploded and took off to the ceiling, falling back down and hitting him in the head twice. He was down for the count. At this point I left and went home before any more trouble came my way.
I guess it’s good to stay relaxed and learn how to hit hard without telegraphing and with minor subtle distractions.
© James Smokey West
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
If you’ve ever been involved in a life and death street confrontation you know that it’s nothing like the movies, it’s a chaotic, brutal, and life altering experience. To bring this point home for anyone lucky enough to have made it though life thus far without a brush with death, I giving you access to the shocking and true story of one man’s close call.
It’s also a great reminder for everyone of how quickly a simple verbal dispute can escalate to a struggle for your life.
President FightFast / Threat Response Solutions
As told to Red Zone by Deputy Morano
I’ve worked for the Sheriff’s Department for many years, two of those years working in the jail. In all that time I’d never been in many fights aside from arresting drunks and controlling crowds. The first serious [fight] happened when I wasn’t even on duty. Still, it was my badge and big mouth that got me into trouble.
I met a couple of my buddies one night at Shakey’s for a beer and a pizza. We were at our table waiting for the pizza when these three guys started hassling the girl behind the counter. Stupid me decided to be a badass and step in. My buddies tried to get me to be cool but I wasn’t having any of that.
I walked up to the counter next to the guy who was making all the noise. He was telling the girl that he gave her a fifty, not a twenty, and he wanted more change.
As he tried to reach over the counter into the register I got his attention. “Hey, what do you think you’re doing?” He glared over at me and said, “Hey, F–k you, ese.” He pulled his hand back and faced me. I pulled out my wallet and flipped it open, flashing my badge. I told him, “You take money out of that register and your ass is going to wind up in jail.”
The guy looked at the badge and then at me. He shook his head and glared at me, saying, “That ain’t real.” His buddies were a little more convinced and one of them put his hand on the trouble maker’s shoulder and whispered something in Spanish. The guy facing me spit on the counter and took a step back. He flipped me off, turned around and walked out with his two friends.
The girl at the counter said, “I ain’t even got no fifty in the register.” I looked over to my two buddies and noticed that the pizza was sitting on the table. My only thought was that my pizza was getting cold. When I sat back down, my buddies harassed the crap out me. We laughed about it and ate our food.
After we finished eating and bullshitting, my buddies split. I took a leak first, then walked out to the parking lot.
As I pulled my keys out of my pocket to unlock my car door I looked up over my hood and saw the trouble maker from earlier walking toward me.
My first thought was, “Sh**–no gun.” It was sitting under the driver’s seat in my car, but I hadn’t even put the key in the door yet. My second thought was: “where are his friends?” I turned behind me and sure enough, there they were rushing me.
They both tacked me to the ground and one of them checked my waist and under my arms. The other one hit me in the face. It didn’t really hurt at all. I was still in shock ‘cause I couldn’t believe this was happening. I don’t think it had set in yet that I was in serious trouble. I hadn’t even tried to fight back.
The guy that frisked me said, “He ain’t got nothin’.” The trouble maker kicked me in the head, once, then hauled back and accidentally kicked his friend in the arm. Both guys jumped up and all three started kicking me. The trouble maker said, “You ain’t no f–kin’ cop, asshole.”
I rolled onto my knees and elbows and tried to get up bat all three of them were still hitting and kicking me. I covered up my head as much as possible and kicked my foot back hitting the guy behind me in the leg. About that time I guess there were some people nearby ‘cause I heard them yelling about the cops coming.
I caught the leg of one guy up under my arm and got up to my knees. I shoved the guy back and tried to get up. The trouble maker kicked at me but I managed to block it with my forearms. The other two guys split. The third guy took two steps back and I knew he was going to rabbit on me. I should have let him go but I was seriously pissed.
As I got up he tried to hit me but I stepped in and grabbed his shirt with both hands. I let go with my right hand and hit the guy twice in the face. I let go of his shirt with my left and whipped an uppercut into his jaw. I heard his teeth clack together, loud.
I hit him with a right hook and grabbed him again by the shirt with both hands. I tripped and fell forward as he fell back. I landed on top of him. I straddled him and hit him again in the face, screaming and cussing at him the whole time. He bucked his hips up and reached his [right] hand behind his back. I didn’t think much about it and kept hitting him.
You know that feeling you get when you hit your funny bone? Suddenly, I felt that feeling on my left side. Right in my ribs. My back arched and the guy shoved me off of him. I sat back on my ass and felt a sharp pain in my left side.
The guy sat up and spit on me. He came off the ground and slapped me in the head. I couldn’t figure out why I hurt so bad. I started seeing big black spots and was getting light headed. I realized I was hurt but didn’t know how. Meanwhile this asshole was still hitting me.
I grabbed at his leg with both arms. He stumbled and fell back and I clawed and struggled to get on top of him. I couldn’t catch my breath and was really starting to panic. This guy was beating the shit out of me even though I was on top.
I felt like I was wading through water and knew I had to end this. I gripped the guy’s larynx with the tips of my fingers and thumb and dug in as hard as I could. I grabbed all the way around the guy’s throat with my other hand and pushed down with all my a
His eyes bulged out and he started bucking and hissing like a cat. It didn’t seem like l was getting anywhere and I thought I was going to pass out. I thought, “Where are the cops?” I looked down at his face and saw these big red spots of blood splattering on him. It was blood that was pouring out of my nose.
I took one hand from around his throat and grabbed him by the hair. I lifted his head up and slammed it into the concrete. I slammed his head against the parking lot a couple more times and on the fifth or sixth time his skull made this flat, cracking sound.
The guy’s arms flopped out to his side and he stopped moving. I felt his body shudder and I got off him. I sat there forever before anyone showed up. A fire truck showed up first and I tried to identify myself as a sheriff’s deputy, but none of the firemen would go near me until the cops showed up.
When the paramedic finally checked me out he pulled a Spyderco Police Model folding knife out of my left side.
The blade had slid between the back of my ribs and the tip of the blade had punctured into my kidney.
I found out the next morning that I had killed the guy I fought with. I spent a week in the hospital and after an inquiry it was determined that I acted in self defense.
I don’t feel bad about what I did. When it’s all over you have time to sit back and think of all the things you could have done differently. But when you’re in it, things move so fast you just do what you have to and sort the rest out later.
Deputy Murano recovered completely from his injuries and went on to work undercover on drug detail for the Sheriff’s Department.
Jim West is a 20-year U.S. Special Forces combat vet who has earned a half a dozen medals in the “first” Iraq war… spent 13 years in the “covert operations” as a member of the Green Berets… Jim was a member of HALO, SCUBA Teams and a combat veteran. Jim has trained organizations with a top secret clearance, including Special Forces, Delta Force, CIA and Clandestine Foreign Operators and Navy Seals. Jim West has also trained two UFC Fighters, Vale Tudo Champions, Professional Boxers and Kick boxers as seen on HBO, Pay Per View and USA Tuesday Night Fights.
Hey, you awake?
Frankly, if you’re like most people, you’re probably asleep at the wheel, spending most of your day in a kind of waking dream, on the phone, texting, listening to music. Thinking about something else, anything except what’s happening around you.
Believe me, the bad guys love this.
Police reports tell the story. Big red flags that something was about to go terribly wrong gone unheeded and ignored with tragic consequences for the victim.
It’s understandable. People just don’t want to believe that another human being would want to beat rape or kill them.
Yet it happens all the time.
You wanna get scared shitless just go online and check out that “sexual offenders” website. I’ll bet you discover a dozen or more of these goons are living right in your neighborhood.
And that’s just a tip of the iceberg.
Which is why developing a fighter’s intuition is crucial. It doesn’t mean you have to become paranoid. No, you just have to start listening for the subtle warning bells — to make sure you’re not being set up for a bad day.
Thirty five years ago, in my Special Forces days, I saw a LOT of action on the battlefield and in the streets. Those were bloody days. Many times my early-warning “sixth sense” alerted me that the shit was about to hit the fan. Other times I was caught off guard. Yep, I can happen to anyone. With more than 100 stitches in my face from beer bottles and the likes, I don’t know if I would have survived, without training and practice.
Let me make my point with a quick story. This is true.
Several years ago I was in Aberdeen, Maryland relaxing at an Applebee’s. I was new in town and didn’t know anyone, my first night in town and “Family Night”.
I was sitting at the bar and ordered a beer and food. I’m alone. I’m minding my own business.
The place was lively, families coming in for dinner, a very non-violent atmosphere and a group guys beside me loudly debating where Egypt is located.
They obviously had a few drinks in them.
Initially there were no indications trouble could be looming.
The guy sitting right next to me insisted that Egypt was in the Middle East.
His buddy laughed. “It’s in Africa, you idiot.”
This went on for a while and the guy sitting to my right asked if I was ever in the military, stating I should know all the answers. I thought he was drunk and decided to accommodate the conversation by answering. Besides I was new in town.
A moment later the “idiot” shook my hand and offered his thanks for my military service. He further offered me a drink so we could toast.
I initially declined and he became pushy about letting him buy me a drink to show his appreciation for my military service. I didn’t want trouble or to start off wrong, so eventually I accepted with a simple rule.
I told him I typically will not drink shots during the week, because it never has a happy ending.
I agreed and told him here is the rule; you have to drink one with me. He told me no problem order what you want and he would pay.
I ordered two double shots of tequila one for each of us. He proposed a toast and we clicked glasses and I started to down my shot.
At the exact time he placed his shot on the bar in front of me… ding, ding, ding a RED FLAG immediately popped up for me.
I drank my shot, set the glass down and told him he had to drink his too, that’s the rule! I was laughing when I told him this.
As I was in the motion of pushing the shot glass back to him, from nowhere he punched me in my face, while I was sitting on the bar stool. These bar stools have a high back to them, which worked out in my favor.
Problem for him is that my skull is made of steel, or something very much like it. As his fist came in contact with my face, I immediately placed my feet onto the floor, guarding and pushing simultaneously with my left hand on his chest, palm out and pressing.
I call this hitting three points of contact at the same time, for balance and the ability to shift my weight towards him while controlling the distance and blocking any further punches.
In a split second, I was defended and already launching my offense, a simple overhand right. Initially could only see his chest and down to the base of his chair and floor, as I had tucked my chin and bulled my neck on impact.
It was the wildest thing, because I immediately noticed the front legs of his chair tipping over backwards as I was press punching him. Odds would have it, my favorite headhunting technique, “the over hand right” landed on his jaw knocking him out in his seat.
I continued to push through after the knockout blow was delivered in order to control the distance. He was rendered immediately unconscious while falling backward in the chair. So on his way down his ear came in contact with a lower table chair ripping off half his ear.
He then landed on his head, splitting his skull open.
The poor bastard had toppled over hard, chair and all. And as an extra bonus he struck his head on the lower chair on the way down. By now (a split second from start to finish), I was fully engaged and my radar was tuned on, already looking for his friends and others who may want to be a hero.
I stood over him and briefly considered finishing with a head stomp. It would have pointless though. He was sprawled out, unconscious, and wouldn’t have felt a thing. He was fully bleeding out, nearly dying.
The joint fell into a shocked silence.
On a number of occasions I’ve knocked out guys then felt the need to finish up by stomping on them. Of course I was concerned others may get involved. That did not happen. There was so much damage a blood the crowd thought he was dead, rendering the crowd into no action!
I could see no one wanted any part of me; I went back to my beer while I waited for the police and EMS to arrive.
The manager flew from his office hysterical and indignant shouting “You are going to jail, I’ll call the police,” blah, blah, blah.
I sipped my beer and downed my unconscious friend’s shot of tequila while waiting for the law to arrive.
Later, as the paramedics loaded him onto a stretcher, the cops went into the manager’s office and watched the security video.
The security video 100% confirmed my story. A crafty experienced man ambushed me by bringing my guard down with his friendly antics, then sucker-punched me in the face while I was minding my own business.
The police captain was impressed with my handy work and asked me if I wanted to press charges.
Press charges? Nah, I wanted nothing to do with him and figured (if he lives), the scar through his skull and half a missing ear would forever remind him of my sexy smile, so I didn’t bother.
I believe if you are justified in your defense, it is best to damage your attacker so badly they will never come back at you. In fact I heard later he was telling his friends from the hospital “3 black guys beat me up”. What a jerk.
So what does this fun story have to do YOU? Just this, the most powerful tool you possess is your intuition and training. Don’t be afraid of it, and don’t ignore it. I highly recommend to all GO WITH YOUR GUT!
Observe people in restaurants, parking lots, bars, gas stations, around your neighborhood, and everywhere else you go. You don’t have to be a hyper-vigilant nut case. Just put down the phone for a second and look around.
Listen to what your gut is telling you.
If you ever hear two or three alarm bells go off, it’s probably time to get the hell out of there.
In my case I let my guard down and was lured into a false sense of security – even though the red flag indicators where present the whole time.
That pisses me off at myself. I am lucky to the extent my training and previous fight and sparring gave me an advantage. When you are under fire, you will do what you know. Practice, practice and practice.
Retired: Special Operations Technician
U.S. Army 7th Special Forces Group
P.S. Oh… by the way. If you’re interested in learning 23 of my most highlyguarded fight secrets – vicious, brutal, downright scary moves that will save your butt in the hairiest situations then check this out:
You and your wife are walking along a familiar street one night. Other couples pass by, and then, somehow, you two are alone…except for the shady-looking stranger looming ahead.
You watch him approach, instinctively knowing something is wrong…yet disbelief stops you from acting. Suddenly, he’s in your face, brandishing a weapon and demanding something from you. You can’t hear him because your mind is screaming, “This can’t be happening to me!” But it is. And all that locker room bravado with your buddies about what ass-kickers and name-takers you are seems to drain from you along with the blood from your extremities. Your stomach churns, your bowels loosen, and you want to run.
But it’s too late. You and your loved one are at your assailant’s mercy.
Can’t Happen To You?
Don’t be so sure. Being caught off guard and flat-footed can happen to the best of us, literally in milliseconds. But there was a moment in the above scenario when you could have prevented this. It was the moment the attacker entered your Zone.
The Zone is an invisible perimeter that martial artists, fighters, and tactical instructors use to define the point at which an opponent becomes a threat. Different systems of fighting address this concept differently; it’s been called everything from one’s “area of awareness,” to one’s “tactical arena.”
The Basic Perimeter
Some systems address the Zone idea in a general way. The Zone is simply one’s personal space. Getting too close – invading that space – should provoke one of several responses, depending on the degree of threat.
One question that inevitably arises is “How close is too close?” Marital artist and Tactical Instructor Scott Hollingsworth sums it up this way: “If someone’s close enough to dance with, they’re too damn close.”
The Colors of Danger
In an effort to be a little more specific, other fighting systems have envisioned several concentric rings of different colors to represent increasing degrees of danger.
Outer most is the Green Zone, beginning at a radius of 15 feet from your body (or up to 30 feet in areas of known danger) and extending, presumably, to infinity. This is considered a safe area. Anyone 15 feet or further from you is not an immediate threat. Inside the Green Zone is the Blue Zone, a ring located between five and fifteen feet from your body. This is an awareness zone. Anyone entering should be assessed as either a threat or non-threat.
Innermost is the Red Zone, representing the area that is within a five-foot radius from your body. The moment someone interest this zone in a threatening way, they must be dealt with decisively and immediately.
The objective of any zone system is two-fold. First, the Zone provides a circle of awareness around your body. Being aware of your opponent’s position relative to your own gives you time to assess your situation.
Second, the Zone eliminates indecision. IF someone you perceive as a threat crosses your line, you react…period. You do not concern yourself with dilemmas of morality or legality. You issue a warning when someone approaches your Red Zone, and then simply react once they cross it.
Making use of the Zone concept does not require long hours in a dojo, or years to master. But it does require some advanced preparation. During an altercation with some crazed lunatic is probably not the best time to start thinking about being prepared.
Spend some hours with a friend in your back yard learning to judge distances. Discover how long it actually takes for someone to reach you from fifteen feet away (it will likely surprise you how quickly a person can close from 15 feet). Discuss scenarios and practice some basic defense techniques from various distances.
By training in this way you can attain a higher level of confidence and commitment which can greatly enhance your chances of success in a street confrontation.
A man we’ll call Joe was walking his date back to his truck late on night after a movie. As they walked up the ramp of the parking garage, Joe noticed a suspicious-looking male approaching from ahead.
The man started talking to Joe as he approached Joe’s outer zone, asking the time, waving his hands, and generally trying to distract Joe as he closed the distance.
About the time the man entered Joe’s Blue Zone, Joe stopped, sensing something was wrong. He took a single step forward, putting his date behind him, and pointing directly at the man with his right hand. “That’s far enough,” was Joe’s only comment.
The man stopped, somewhat stunned by Joe’s directness. He spread his arms and tried to smile at Joe disarmingly. It was then that Joe heard a sound off to his right – another assailant coming up from Joe’s blind side.
Without taking his eyes off the first man, Joe pointed his right hand in the direction of the second attacker. Joe’s left hand slipped up under his jacket to the small of his back and remained there. Joe nodded to the first man, “Tell him to stop right where he’s at, now!” The first man hesitated for only an instant, his eyes now locked on Joe’s left hand.
The man looked in the direction of the second, still unseen person, and shook his head once. He then raised his arms back out slowly and backed away. “It’s cool, man…” was the man’s only comment before he turned and ran off. The unseen person to Joe’s right fled down a nearby stairwell.
Did the fact that Joe had a loaded Walther PPK .380 handgun tucked in the small of his back, and that Joe was also a Tactical Training Instructor help get him out of that situation? It probably didn’t hurt. But did the bad guys, or even Joe’s girlfriend, know any of that? Nope.
What the bad guys did know was that Joe seemed very aware of his situation and prepared for a confrontation. Joe reacted to a violation of his zone aggressively and immediately – and it was that reaction which repelled his attackers.
The bottom line? Weapons and defense training are immensely beneficial – as ammunition. But the real weapon is your mind. It is your mind that must be decisive, confident, and alert, so that you are prepared for any situation. A key factor in being prepared is understanding the Zone.
This technique is great for situations where an attacker has the jump on you. The stiff arm portion of the technique stops the attackers momentum and provides protection for your jaw line. The elbow strike allows you to get inside and deliver devastating close range strikes to gain the offensive and end the fight quickly.
When you use the stiff arm you need to make sure you have a stable stance and are on your toes with your knees slightly bent so you can absorb the impact. If you try to use the stiff arm while you are on your heels you’ll be pushed over or thrown off balance. This stance will also enable you to spring back on the attacker to throw him off balance as Jim explains in the video.
For the elbow strike portion of the technique remember to keep your free hand up to protect your head and use your hips and torso to develop power in the elbow strike. The power comes from your core not your arm. If you manage to deliver two powerful elbow shots to the attackers jaw and face it will without a doubt stun him and it’s very likely that it’ll end the fight. If you follow up with the horizontal hammer fist and the opposite arm elbow strike it’ll be a done deal. Remember don’t stop striking until the threat is gone, and leave the area quickly to avoid retaliation from the attackers friends.
For more simple “end it now” fight techniques check out Jim West’s Master of Destruction DVD package here.
Bruce Beck is a well respected master at surviving in the harsh and unforgiving deserts of the American Southwest. In this short clip he explains why a simple piece of plastic tubing can be the difference between life and death in the desert where water is your most critical resource.
As Bruce explains in the video the tubing is used to reach areas where you cannot scoop water out with a cup or canteen. Simply tying one end of the tube to a stick can give you incredible reach into deep shaded crevasses that may contain water even in very hot dry areas.
Keep in mind that the water you may be extracting with this simple technique could be contaminated. As Bruce mentions in the video if the water is questionable you need to spit the water into a container to purify or sterilize later. By only letting the contaminated water contact your mouth you are limiting your exposure to any pathogens, however it could still make you sick. This technique should only be used in a true survival situation where the benefits of accessing the water outweighs the potential of exposure to waterborne pathogens.
For more life saving “no-nonsense” survival tips from Bruce Beck click here.
Being in the clinch in a street fight is a dangerous place. An attackers buddies can attack you from behind, you don’t have much mobility, you can be easily forced to the ground, and it typically lengthens the fight (exposing you and your loved ones to more risk). For those reasons you want to transition from the clinch as quickly as possible. The reverse arm bar in the clip above taught by Mike Gillette is a technique you need to have up your sleeve. It’s simple and it works great, even for smaller guys like Mike.
The first step is to make sure that you do the lock while at least one of your arms is on the inside. If both your arms are on the outside of his, use another technique, there are plenty of other great options (knees to the groin, headbutt etc.).
Take the arm that is on the inside and loop it up and around his arm and back toward your body as shown in the video. This will give you a leverage advantage locking his joint and giving you control over his body. However, the key to making this work, especially with a large attacker, is a distraction strike. As Mike shows in the video this can be a throat strike or simply snapping the head up and over by striking the chin.
Either way the goal is to distract the attacker and gain another point of control over his body to complete the take-down.
In the video, Mike explains these two components separately. In real life they need to happen simultaneously. The attacker will be thinking about the throat strike and not even realize he is being put into a joint lock.
Now there are certainly less complex ways to transition out of the clinch, however this technique will give you control of the attacker and prevents him from recoiling from a simple throat strike or eye gouge. Some times control is necessary, especially when you have loved ones who need to escape, or if you need to do more severe damage if you are in a place where you cannot escape after a few simple strikes.
For more simple combat technique from former Army Airborne Soldier, Veteran Swat Cop, and Police Chief Mike Gillette check out his DVD package here.
Most people have heard someone say they need to “throw their weight” into a punch or strike, but few people truly understand how to do this. There are a number of ways to explain this concept in the video above Self-Defense expert Richard Ryan gives you the explanation he uses with his students.
When you understand this concept and practice you will be able to generate a lot of force even in very close range. As you saw in the video above the key is moving your body explosively (even if it is a very short distance) in the direction of the target.
With your body moving explosively in the direction of the attacker you now throw your punch, elbow, head butt or nearly any other technique and will be able to cause much more damage. With this technique a close range punch turns into a battering ram that nobody will expect. And you don’t have to be large to make this work. In fact, using this technique a 110 pound woman can easily knock out a larger man.
When you learn to use your body weight in striking, all your techniques will be amplified. And when you learn to develop power even in close range, you will become a very dangerous person. Most attackers, especially big guys rely on mass transfer while standing up straight and in punching distance. They often don’t know what to do when you get in close, this is where those who understand this principle gain a serious advantage.
For more brutal techniques and some simple way to stop a take-down check our Richard Ryan’s Vicious Street Fighting package.
As you can see in the video above, this brutal arm break is highly effective and very easy to learn. As Mike Serr explains relying on complex manipulations to deal with punches is often times wishful thinking, especially if you can’t devote several hours a week to training.
The arm break technique shown in the video relies on gross motor skills and can work even if the attacker lands the punch. To execute the arm break there are 3 basic steps.
First, if you see the punch coming you need to get your guard up and side step, twist, or simply lean back to avoid it.
Next, (and this ideally happens while you are avoiding the punch) you want to pin the attackers arm between your own arm and your body.
The last step is to quickly throw your body weight into the attackers upper arm. Depending on the force you use you will either throw him to the ground, detach his bicep, break the arm, or all of the above.
What makes this technique unique is that is works even if you are struck by the punch. As Mike demonstrates in the video, even if you are hit it is still possible to pin the arm and execute the technique. Just remember regardless of whether you are hit or not you must be fast. An attacker isn’t going to leave his arm out there for you to play with.
If you see it coming you need to start trapping the arm while the punch is still extending. The full speed demonstration shows how the avoidance and pinning happen simultaneously.