After-Action Report: Extreme Close Quarters Concepts With Craig Douglas

After-Action Report: Extreme Close Quarters Concepts with Craig Douglas

This scene in “From Russia, With Love” has always been one of my favourite movie fight sequences. Not a lot flashy technique and technical skills; just two well-trained and athletic men fighting inside a confined space, both trying earnestly and sincerely to beat the other guy to death with whatever is at hand.

I’ve always loved that scene because it felt REAL (and it was… there was only one shot that used stunt doubles: The rest was Sean Connery and Robert Shaw going at it themselves). The editing on it was also sheer genius: Lots of lingering shots of two guys struggling, then a quick cut as positions reversed, then more long shots as they fought for position, then a jump cut or two and WHOA, it’s over and one person is left on his feet and alive.

Which is pretty much what ECQC was like. Taking part in the grappling and disarms and watching the 1-on-1 and 2-on-1 evos (my lower back informed the rest of me on Saturday afternoon that I would not be taking part in the really rough stuff) imprinted on me just how things can go from okay to really, really bad in literally the blink of an eye.

Even though I didn’t get the full experience and engage in the competitive hugging elements, it was still a tremendously valuable class for a number of reasons.

  1. It’s the natural compliment to most firearms training programs, which tend to emphasize accurate fire at around 7-10 yards. The experience of Tom Givens’ students and the video evidence provided to us by Active Self Protection (among others) tells us that if we civilians need to use lethal force, it will be probably be across the length of a car or a similar distance. Note that word: Probably. This is the class to take for when that “probably” doesn’t happen and you have to deal with someone who’s within bad breath distance and very much wants to end your life. A gun class is a good idea and everyone should take them, but what happens inside an ECQC class is probably the ultimate refutation of the idea that a gun as a household talisman against evil. If you’re thinking that owning and carrying a gun is the answer to your self-defense needs, ECQC will disabuse of that notion in some rather unpleasant ways…
  2. We like to think if we have a lethal force encounter, it’ll be with a mugger in a parking lot who’s going to jump out from behind a car wearing a ski mask and say “GIMMEALLYOURMONEYNOW!”. The harsh reality is, though, that you and I have an excellent chance of having to shoot someone we already know. We tend to let friends and relatives into our personal space more than we let in strangers, so if you need to use lethal force against a friend or relative, chances are, it’s going to be at 7 inches distance, not 7 yards, and that’s where ECQC happens.
  3. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1.
    One of things mentioned over and over again in the class is that having good communication skills and some “go to” phrases to help calm things down was as important as having a good trigger press or good ju-jitsu skills. I saw this happen in-class during the two-on-one drills, where one attacker’s initial angry challenge to the defender, (which referenced the defender, oral sex and the attacker’s brother), flummoxed the defender to the point where he was unable to respond intelligently and de-escalate things before things turned into a fight, a fight that the defender ended up losing. That really showed how important is it to know how to remove hostility and anger with your words so someone doesn’t try to remove your spleen with a knife.
    Speaking of which…
  4. Boy howdy, is an easily-accessible fixed blade ever useful in a close-quarters struggle. The most common occurrence when a gun came out in a clinch was a disarm and a gun lying on the ground. Other than that, we’d see a gun come out and a couple of shots might hit the opponent, but a few shots would also go into the crowd or who knows where.
    Whoops.
    Lastly, someone would get their gun out but have it taken away from them and then used on them by their opponent, ending the fight in their opponent’s favor. Every time a blade came out, though, someone was going to get the point, and get it often.

ECQC was everything I hoped it would be. I’ve been looking for something that would integrate the gun solution to a violent attacker with the empty-hand solution to violence, and that’s exactly what it was. If an old and slow white guy like me can take this class and get a lot out of it, so will you.

Lighten Up, Francis.

Lighten Up, Francis.

I have a friend who’s AntiFa, and his response when I suggested that maybe violence wasn’t the answer for his group was “Well, when I’m being threatened with violence, what choice to I have?” *

In other words, he hit me, so I have no choice but to hit him back.

Bull crap. That is a child’s response to violence: “Of course I hit him, he hit me first! I HAD to hit him!” **

“No choice?” We are humans, not animals. We learned to override our baser instincts around the same time one of us figured out that a burning branch wasn’t something to be afraid of, but rather, it was good for warmth and illumination and starting barbecues.

No, we do not always have control over the actions of others, but we always, ALWAYS have control over our reactions. Any cop could probably tell you about the times they’ve had some poor fool sitting on a curb in cuffs, watching a friend bleed out in front of them say something like, “Man, I didn’t want to do it, but he just wouldn’t back down.” At that point, one life is over, and one life is ruined. Who hit whom first is a bit of a moot point. I’m not willing to let this beautiful country with its beautiful freedoms go away just because a bunch of children started arguing over who threw the first punch.

* I’m old enough to remember when Martin Luther King Jr. was reviled by the right and loved by the left. My, how things have changed.
** I haven’t heard that said in our house since my youngest son turned ten, which speaks volumes about the emotional age of Antifa and other groups.

The Naked Gun.

The Naked Gun.

Someone on a less-than-clueful Internet forum posted about how he felt “naked” without his CCW pistol on him.

This kind of annoyed me, as I had to wait almost three months for my Florida CCW permit to arrive, and despite that, I didn’t feel “naked” because I had other options available to me.

What other options, you ask? Well, read and find out.

Something To Listen To.

Something To Listen To.

Take a few minutes and listen to Paul Carlson and Rob More talk with Dusty Salomon about Dusty’s methodology on training people how to shoot more better.

It’s a really, really good episode, and not just because Dusty validates something I’ve been saying for a while, that we we need to start looking at the dojo model for our firearms training classes.

Oh, and also check out Dusty’s new book, Mentoring Shooters.

I am.

Lessons From A Walmart Parking Lot.

Lessons From A Walmart Parking Lot.

There was a guy who went to a Walmart with his family late last night around 10 o’clock. We’ll call him “Kevin.”

Kevin noticed as he was getting out of his car that there was a young gentleman in his mid-20s going from row to row, looking around at the cars.

Kevin then watched as said gentleman met up with two more friends and all three started a conversation in an end of the parking lot away from all the cars.

Kevin had been shopping at his Walmart for almost three years now, and knew what the clientele looks like and how they act. This gentlemen looked different and acted different than what was the norm for this establishment, and seeing how it was late in the evening on Black Friday, (a busy shopping day for us, a busy work day for thieves), Kevin decided to walk his family to the door of the Walmart, then told his wife to go shop for Christmas ribbon with his sons, and said that he would meet up with them at the front door of the store when they were done.

Kevin then stood around by the front door, flashlight tucked out of the way in his hand, keeping an eye on the young gentlemen as they continued their conversation in the parking lot and eventually walked off the premises of Walmart.

Kevin then waited for his family, walked with them to their car and drove off.

Was Kevin unusually paranoid? Maybe. Did Kevin inconvenience his family by acting this way? Not really. Did Kevin put himself in a position to keep his property safe when a hinky situation presented itself?

Most definitely.

Update: Someone asked on Facebook what “Kevin” (me) would have done if the gentlemen in question started opening car doors. I’d call 911, and start about writing down details of dress, height, hair color, etc. so I would get them correct for the cops. If they opened up MY car door, I’d hit him with the beam of my flashlight and ask them what they were doing and then we’d go from there (which would also probably end up in me calling the cops).

Character Is What You Are In The Dark.

Character Is What You Are In The Dark.

We must work, for the night, she is coming!

Time and time again, I see people in the gun world, people who preach de-escalation as being vital to self-defense, being unwilling or unable to de-escalate personal spats online, leading to butthurt galore and all sorts of unnecessary drama.

If you can’t de-escalate a virtual spat, it brings into question your ability to de-escalate a spat in real life.

At the very least, it gives a prosecutor a little more ammunition to shoot at you in court: “Your Honor, the State would like to enter into evidence the following online exchange to show that the defendant has a temper and was itchin’ to start a fight that evening…”

The Rod And Thy Staff, They Comfort Me. And The 9mm On My Hip Helps As Well.

The Rod And Thy Staff, They Comfort Me. And The 9mm On My Hip Helps As Well.

My friend John waits 72 hours to comment on a mass shooting, and that’s a good idea.

I’m not that patient. I can only wait 24 hours.

Here’s what we know about the massacre in a Baptist church in Sutherland, Texas.

I do not suffer from the illusion that those who do not respect the law of God (and man) will somehow respect God’s sanctuary and not commit a horror inside the church. I’ve carried my CCW gun into church ever since I got my permit and my pistol, and if you can carry, you should, too.

Greg Ellifritz has some thoughts on staying safe inside the sanctuary, so does Ed Head. Read them both, and this weekend, when you go to church, praise the Lord.

And pass the ammunition.

Say When.

Say When.

It was interesting reading this bit from Greg Elifritz on choosing the right time to get violent, especially considering that he posted it almost two years before John Corriea talked about the same sort of thing over there. Both guys came to pretty much the same the conclusion, but using different methods.

It’s something I think we need to think about more. The cliché you see in an NRA Personal Protection Class (and elsewhere) is the bad gun (always a bad GUY) jumping out from behind a car with a knife and shouts out “GIMMEALLYOURMONEYRIGHTNOWORI’LLKILL!!”

But lets face it, we’re probably more likely to stumble into something already in progress or be caught on the fringe of something that goes down in front of us than to have the mugger-in-the-car-lot scenario happen to us, or we’ll be involved in a “monkey dance” situation with a stranger (or more likely, a family member or friend) that we just can’t de-escalate fast enough.

Then what?

Well, the five things that Andrew Branca talks about all better be in-place, or else you’re in a heap of trouble.

… And You Will Be Invincible

… And You Will Be Invincible

During the spring and summer months, it’s common practice for Euro fashion catalog shooters to come out to the U.S. to shoot the fall / winter catalogs. They liked AZ because of 300 days of sun a year, and I’d make a decent amount of $$ off them as their RV Driver / local guide. There was one guy I assisted, Bob somebody, a Welshman (funny as hell… a rarity amongst fashion shooters, in my experience), who was shooting for one of the German catalogs. The results from a week-long shoot out in Arizona was riding on his shoulders, and expenses involved included a dozen Euro models (HOT Euro models…), an art director, me, his assistant, three stylists… and he shot everything on Kodak 100 chrome using (wait for it) a half-dozen Nikon Quicktouch point and shoots. Yep, not an F4, not a Hassie, a consumer-level compact 35mm camera, about as basic and boring a camera as you could get at the time.

No manual settings. No external light sources beyond fill cards and reflectors. His assistant would get an incident meter reading, they’d note it, and then it was off to the races.

He shot that way because he wanted to focus (no pun intended) 100% on what the model was doing and how she was interacting with the camera, and didn’t want to bump something and have a whole session ruined. And it worked for him. He got some great shots from his models, and the chromes looked really good when all was said and done.

He could do this because he knew every single step before, during and after the shot, and knew how to play within the limits of his gear.

I’ll leave it to you, dear reader, to figure what all this has to do with your gear, how you use it and what’s the “right” gun for self defense.