Thursday, February 10, 2011

Martial Arts Vs. Guns

As you reach to retrieve your receipt from the ATM, the evening air makes you shiver. You stretch your neck around, your muscles still sore from yesterdays workout. Its been a long, hard day, and you are glad its almost over. Just one more stop at the all-night grocery store and .

All right, scumbag! Give me your money and your keys!

Startled, you turn at the sound of the voice, the content of the mans words not yet registering in your brain. Hes about 20, unshaven and dirty. He smells bad and looks like hes on drugs. Your eyes survey his body, and your surprise turns to shock as you detect the chrome-plated revolver in his trembling, tattooed hand.

Moment of Truth That scenario or one similar to it has played out countless times, both with accomplished martial artists and armed off-duty police officers in the role of the victim. If you think resistance is futile, youre wrong. However, the situation carries with it some dynamics that cannot be answered with a speedy fastdraw or a spinning back kick. To win this encounter and by all means, it is very winnable you must understand several things about the realities of human conflict at close quarters.

Primarily, you must have your warrior mind set correctly. Winning a real fight requires controlled violence. You must be able to call up your dragon and become a fierce, feral creature instead of the domesticated human you were raised to be. If you are not emotionally and psychologically prepared to rip your adversarys heart out of his chest and barbecue it in front of his fading eyes, forget about trying anything.

Your best bet, if you lack a killer attitude, is to simply submit, be nice to him theres not much you can do except go out with style.

The hoodlum in the story, as well as most people who will point a gun at you (as opposed to simply shooting you), do so for reasons of intimidation. Their objective is to place you in a position of tactical disadvantage and bargain with you for something they want. The bargain is typically that if you do as they say, they will not kill you. (Your money or your life is the classic line, although females often receive a modified offer.) Their intent provides you with the opening you need to defeat them.

Lets look at the two men in the story in a simplified way: The hoodlum has the pistol pointed at the hero. The hero is surprised. The hoodlum makes his demands and then waits and give him what he wants, then hope for the best.

Personally, I dont believe that giving in is a viable option, and presumably neither do you. Even if you think you'll never stand up to a gun, I can paint many scenarios where you might choose to do so. If you agree, then lets have a look at how to solve this problem and win the day.

Intent First of all, I am not claiming that any secret skills, ancient art or trendy technique can withstand a bullet. Any martial artist who thinks otherwise has been smoking too much rice paper. But if you understand your adversarys motivation, you can find a way to defeat him.

If the criminal simply wanted to kill you, he would just walk up to you unannounced and shoot you without warning. Regardless of how many years of training you have or how many arts you know, you will never be able to defend against that. If its your day to die, for the expected compliance and response from the hero. In essence, the hoodlum is in pause, waiting for the return of the hero. The hero can go either way at this point: comply or fight. If he understands the dynamics of human reaction time, he can come out of it quite well.

Theory Every conflict, whether between countries or individuals, is a cycle in which each party observes the other, orients himself according to those observations, decides on a course of action and finally puts that decision into action. Called the OODA loop, it is the theory of conflict professed by the late Col. John Boyd. Boyd was responsible for creating many of the aerial-combat tactics now employed throughout the free world.

His findings resulted from projects and studies he conducted about the success American pilots had over their North Korean adversaries in the Asian unpleasantness of the 1950s. Boyd theorized that although the North Koreans had certain technical advantages with their airplanes, American pilots could generally see their adversaries first because of their planes cockpit design.

They could immediately recognize them as enemies and decide what to do more quickly because of their recognition training as well as their flight training.

And the controls on the American airplanes allowed them to put those decisions into play more rapidly than the North Koreans. This allowed them to complete a decision-action cycle more efficiently than their adversaries.

Boyd then theorized that in any conflict whether it is between nations or individuals the party that can go through the observation-orientation decision-action loop most quickly enjoyed a remarkable advantage over the competition.

That aerial-combat concept also applies to personal combat. Studies have determined that even for a prepared individual, each phase of the OODA cycle takes at least 1/4th of a second.

That means you may have up to one full second to act before the other fellow even realizes what you're doing. And then he has to select a viable response to your actions and employ it.

Field Testing Studies involving students at Suarez International, the training establishment I founded, support this concept.

Using marking cartridge firearms, two operators of comparable skill level were told to face each other at arms length. Operator No. 1 (the aggressor) was told to command his opponent to put his hands up, as the thug in the story might do. Operator No. 2 (the defender) was instructed that as soon as he thought he could do it, he should quickly move into the first portion of a weapons disarm. The aggressor was told that when he saw the other man move, he should fire. The aggressor had every advantage. He had the pistol already pointed at the defender, his finger on the trigger and the hammer cocked. Furthermore, he was familiar with the technique the defender would use, and he knew that the defender would not comply. The odds were obviously in his favor. (To make it more interesting, we added the stress factor of the loser buying dinner for the winner.) The results were revealing and supportive of Boyds concepts. Out of 10 tries, the defender was able to deflect the muzzle of the pistol and trap it in a single move before the aggressor was even able to fire all 10 times.

Lesson learned: All things being equal, action always beats reaction.

Conclusion If you understand how to take advantage of the dynamics of human reaction time, you can implement your responses and countermeasures before your adversary has even realized what you are doing. This doesnt require you to be particularly fast or technically proficient. All you need is a tactically correct, preconditioned move that is simple to use, violent in nature and technically correct for the situation.

With this in mind, the scenario I used to open this story could end this way: You realize hes holding a chromeplated revolver in his hand.

Hey, idiot! I said give me your money!

You reply: All right, sir. Please dont shoot me. I'll give you everything I have.

Expecting you to hand him a wad of C-notes fresh from the ATM, the hoodlum transforms his expression from smirk to horror as your left hand sweeps his pistol aside and your other hand smashes into his nose  once, twice, three times. In his watery-eyed stupor, he doesnt even realize that you've taken his pistol out of his hand and followed up with a strike to his temple. His final thoughts are unprintable as he sinks into blackness. ...


  1. Hey an awesome work! It is useful to all of us.. there are many times when we face such situation and sharing such valuable knowledge is of course a good deed! Keep up the good work. I was thoroughly engrossed! Cheers! :-)

  2. yes, u r right !
    in this world of Kaliyuga, a man kills a man for his own selfish needs.
    we need to prepare and protect ourselves, from this deadly predators !

    And thnx for the comment brother !

  3. Indeed this is a good effort for providing such a useful information for the common people which, i think, will be surely required by considering the recent conditions the world is facing....
    So i would just say.... KEEP IT GOING...