A friend posted a link to this Facebook video from the London Wing Chun Academy, and that got me poking around their Youtube channel. Along with the usual discussion of style-specific techniques, there are some really great insights on maintaining awareness and dealing with street violence, like this video.
As I said, a long, long time ago, one of the reasons why I got into this armed self-protecting thing was because my wife’s cousin, a man with a history of drug abuse and a previous conviction for manslaughter, started to take what I thought was an uncomfortable amount of interest her whereabouts and what she was doing.
He did the world a favor and offed himself soon after that, but it woke me up to the fact that there are people who cannot be avoided or reasoned with, and that means I was left with violence as a way to get them out of our lives.
It also made me realize that a potential threat to my family’s well-being existed inside the confines of our extended family. We go around pre-visualizing “black swan” events like the mugger in the ski mask jumping out and yelling “GIMMEYOURMONEY!”, when the reality is, we probably need to worry about people we already know as our attacker, be it the guy who snaps at work or the drunk, angry uncle or something similar.
Thankfully, you and I are probably not going to have to one-shot a terrorist on a rampage or take on an active shooter. But an out-of-control relative or close friend? Maybe.
It’s one thing to walk around the street pie-ing corners because of the knockout game, and another to act calm and friendly around a creepy co-worker or (in my case) a felonious cousin. How often do we run through scenarios that involve de-escalation and de-assing ourselves rather than concealment and cover? How much of our mindset is devoted to impossible scenarios, and how much to the possible?
What would a “Tactical Gentleman’s Weekend” for Gun Culture 2.0 look like?
It’s an interesting challenge, because let’s face it, shooting stuff from speedboats is FUN, while learning how to de-escalate an angry drunk has a certain “eat your broccoli, it’s good for you” feel to it. It’s been my goal for a while now to eat my broccoli and become a responsible gun owner in every sense of the word. The issue is, though, that society today does not see “responsible” as a desirable thing, so balancing the broccoli and the ice cream is an ongoing challenge.
With that in-mind, here’s what I’d like to see in two-day “tactical gentleman’s” weekend that would apply to today’s CCW holder.
A Heavy Emphasis On Concealed Carry
Ideally, you’d have to commit to coming to class with your primary carry rig, along with a few extra mag pouches for administration purposes.
Holistic, lifestyle-based approach to personal protection.
Concealed carry, home defense, whatever.
Defending others as well as yourself.
Girlfriend, friends, family, whatever. We don’t live on a deserted island, and our training shouldn’t reflect that either.
Some specific topics to cover:
Creating a safe room, home security, low-light ops
De-Escalation / Situational Awareness
Intro to Empty hand / Combatives
Basic Trauma Care
Shoot / No Shoot (ideally in a shoothouse of some kind
Will I ever see such a thing in my lifetime? Dunno. But it’d be cool when it happens.
We can go to a dojo and learn empty hand techniques. We can go to a firearms trainer and learn to shoot. We can spar in competition to learn what works on the mat, and we can shoot IPSC and IDPA to learn what works on the square range.
Where do we civilians go to learn all of those at once, and get in the practice (kata, if you will) that allows integrated techniques to become second nature to us?
I use some that favor low stances and quick foot work, others that favor circular arm movements, and others that are quick and staccato in movement.
But I do them routinely, like I work dry-firing – the pistol kata – into my daily life. From mindfulness comes mindlessness…and from a study of patterns comes freedom from patterns.
Thanks to competition, I don’t think about reloading under pressure, I just do it. Yes, I may not do them all the time with my head up in a state of tactical awareness all the time, but the mag goes into the gun quickly and smoothly and my sights are back on target right quickly. You learn in a match how to move quickly and safely with a gun in your hand. You learn what you need to see to get your hits on-target quickly and efficiently. You learn to deal with small amounts of stress so you’ll be able to deal with the stress of a gun fight.
Dry fire is kata. Matches are sparring. Gun fights are, well, gun fights.
A really great run down of what a well-prepared, well-protected civilian would need in training, mindset and equipment, over at Revolver Science. I like this list because rather than concentrating on “The Seventeen Ways YOU Can Stop Terrorism With Your AR-15 (And #12 Will Blow His Mind!)!!!”, it lays out, pretty clearly, what our threats are and what can be done to stop them. I really like that “defensive driving” is on the list. Want to avoid a road rage incident? Try not to be a jerk on behind the wheel, and never escalate the situation when someone cuts you off.
Gee, maybe those same principles of heightened awareness, conspicuous politeness and de-escalation might also work when he have a firearm on our waist and well as when we’re behind wheel.
Now that my family’s moved, “Getting into shape in order to help me live longer and with less creaking joints” needs to be on my version of this list.
Advantages: Small, Very Bright, Inexpensive Disadvantages: A Little Thick For a AA Light Rating: Five Stars Out Of Five
Seriously, this thing costs less than ten dollars? It outshines everything I own except my dedicated weapon lights, yet it takes one AA battery. It’s small, it’s lightweight, it’s got a simple on/off interface, it focuses to throw a beam for at least 100 yards and also spreads out to bath a large area with light. If I have one complaint, it’s that the focusing lens makes it a little wider than other lights, which means it takes up more space in my pocket, however, it’s great to toss into a gear bag or take along on a hike.
And did I mention it was bright? Here’s a while garage door, illuminated by the flashlight on an iPhone 6+. The photos were taken as there were before, with a Nikon D70, f5.6, 1 second at ISO 400, or about 1/1000 the light that’s out there during the daylight hours.
The same door, lit up with the Coast HP1 on focused spot mode.
For ten bucks and a AA battery, you can’t go wrong with this light. Sure, there may be brighter lights out there and lights that are designed to fly to the moons of Pluto and back which cost more, but if this light craps out on me, it’s a sawbuck to get a new one.
That, to me, is the very definition of a good value.
I hate dry-fire practice with my strong hand only and weak hand only*, because it shows just how much I suck at such things. But I do it. Not as often as I should, but I do it nevertheless. I’m ok with sucking at something for a while if I know I can get better at it with effort and practice. It’s the sucking at something and not improving that I hate (and I do that far too much for my liking).
I know trainers who poo-poo the idea of situational awareness, preferring instead to concentrate on dealing with the after-effects of being ambushed. While I understand the idea (they are, after all, firearms trainers, not zen awareness trainers), but the fact is, you win 100% of the fights you don’t get into.
I’ve some more ideas on John Farnam’s classic dictum on avoiding bad things before they happen over at Ricochet.com.