MMA legend Royce Gracie teaches a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class, one of many opportunities for citizens to learn useful unarmed self-defense skills.
So, here we have your average defensive shooter working to improve their skills in order to become a harder and less-desirable target to violent criminals. This person buys quality guns and gear. Their practice centers on a smooth, fast pistol presentation and occurs faithfully until the shooter can nearly always hit the vital zone of the target quickly and accurately. This shooter figures they’re pretty much good to go. But they’re not.
When the defensive shooter comes under attack, it’s going to be against someone who happens to have a good deal of experience in using those exact skills. And the armed citizen quickly realizes that the attacker does not deploy these skills slowly and deliberately, and will almost certainly not stop at exactly 10 yards and face the intended victim square on, like a B-27 target.
That attacker will come in an almighty hurry and may very well be on top of the victim before the victim has had time to react. Even if our citizen gets their pistol out, the first shot will probably be fired while the muzzle is actually touching the crook. Here, if it is a semi-automatic firearm, the gun could malfunction. It is also somewhat difficult to perform a proper malfunction clearance while being shot, stabbed, or beaten with a club.
I’m not intentionally trying to paint a bleak picture for armed citizens. I am just trying to point out that developing marksmanship and gun-handling skills is only one part of the picture for becoming a hard target. One must also develop fighting skills. However, going out on the streets at night and picking fights is probably not the smartest way to go about this. Fortunately, some good training is available.
Several qualified trainers and schools offer classes that are typically called Close Quarters Combat, as offered by Shivworks. Gunsite Academy even offers a Close Quarters Combat for Seniors class. These classes teach a person to deal with violent crime that gets in their face. They teach blocking techniques that help give the citizen time to get their concealed-carry handgun into action. They also offer techniques for dealing with edged and blunt weapons. In short, these classes are all about fighting, as opposed to marksmanship.
But, the armed citizen must also realize every criminal attack may not be the kind that is properly resolved with gunfire. One may come up against an inebriated person who simply wants someone to fight. While one would really want to avoid receiving any sort of whipping, it may not rise to the level of a deadly force encounter.
To better deal with these kinds of attacks, the citizen is well-advised to get some martial arts training. Now, signing up for the tai chi class down at the YMCA is probably not going to do a lot of good for someone wanting to learn to fight. However, just about any qualified martial arts instructor can teach street-fighting skills. There are many disciplines, like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, that are both great for defense on the street and offer easy-to-find instruction. A person just has to clearly communicate to the instructor why he is seeking the training.
When I discuss this topic with groups, I often get a lot of comments from folks who are older and/or may have health issues. I try to point out to them that life isn’t fair. And, as they have become older and weaker, they have also become more appealing targets to criminals. Again, many schools understand this dynamic and have designed certain classes to meet the needs of seniors and folks with physical impairments. The training is already out there and the citizen just has to make a bit of effort to find it.
The simple fact of life is that even once we have developed our shooting and firearm-handling skills, our defensive education is not over. We now have to learn to fight with it. It is really not a good idea to try to match fighting theory alone against an attacker who is younger, in better physical condition, and has hands-on experience with violent contact.
It pleases me any time I hear about some violent criminal getting his comeuppance by an average citizen who has taken the time and determination to learn to fight. So, please make my day—develop those fighting skills. You won’t be sorry.
A version of this article appeared in Shooting Illustrated.