Category Archives: Combatives

Discussion to help hone your hand to hand combatives skill sets.

Comparison and Contrast for Training in ‘Infantry’ Skill Sets Part 2

Update from JC Dodge.  Again, up front, his post is not meant to dissuade anyone from learning these necessary survival skill sets; rather, it’s meant to provide some sort of objective way to look at what might be gained from attending various schools aimed at civilians when compared to active duty service in a combat arm.

Remember the levels of learning:  Unconsciously Unskilled, Consciously Unskilled, Consciously Skilled, and Unconsciously Skilled.

The very highest level you can attain (which is good, if you’re diligent and practice what you’ve learned in your chosen school) is Consciously Unskilled (You Know What You Don’t Know) and possibly Consciously Skilled ( You can perform, but not at ‘second nature’ level).  Most civilians are not in the environment that helps attain skill mastery (Unconsciously Skilled – Performing tasks as second nature level), because they have jobs, support families, and have other obligations that keep them from practicing all day, every day and some weekends with their chosen team 0f four to twelve people.

Keep plugging away, keep learning, but understand the limitations of your training and capabilities.  It’ll help keep you alive a lot longer than harboring illusions of what you can do.

 “Are You A ‘Snowflake’ Or A ‘Meteor’?” – Becoming A Meteor

Last week a group of four Combat Arms Veterans contributed to a post I wrote concerning the premise that, “on a good day, a civilian that has taken 3 or 4 SUT type classes from a Tactical Trainer won’t even be at the experienced Infantry PFC level”. Although the majority of the comments, both here on WRSA,  and in email were positive, even though there were still those who are still unwilling to mesh reality with their delusions of grandeur, concerning their level of training, and it’s comparison to that of the experienced Infantry PFC.

I have mentioned a number of times (these highlighted links are just a few examples) a variation of this theme, “You are not a Commando/Infantry, but you do not need to be.”. I actually had a guy say, “YES! and if you had just said it this way from the beginning then you might not be getting any negative feedback.” to part of my response to another comment he had made. My actual comment to him consisted of this, “Here’s the thing, “You can’t be what we are/were without doing what we do/did (BUT YOU DON’T NEED TO BE).”.

Let’s talk about that phrase for a minute. “You can’t be what we are/were without doing what we do/did (BUT YOU DON’T NEED TO BE).”. The question I’d imagine most SAC’s (Situationally Aware Civilian) have is, 1) How do I put myself on par with a guy who has not only gone through a 4 month One Station Unit Training course (Basic and Infantry School)? 2) Do I need to put myself on par with that guy to have a chance at surviving what is coming?

This post is about some of the “What”, the “Why”, and the “How” of “Combatant Skills” needed for the Neighborhood Protection Team member, or Survivalist. You are not Infantrymen, you have to be much more. As I have said a number of times, “Be a Survivalist who is a ‘Jack of all Trades’, master of some (preferably the life saving and life protecting arts).”. Are there Infantry skills that you should master? Hell Yes! In this post I mentioned the Army’s “Everybody requirement” concerning Common Task Testing. This is not an “Infantry specific” requirement, but an “Everyone” requirement. Have you mastered the tasks in that post, because even the “Water Purification Specialist” in the Army has to show proficiency in those tasks.

Most of you want to pick and choose what you want to learn, and what you want to avoid, and that doesn’t cut it if you are serious about surviving a combat scenario. This is what I said in the post, “If you can’t show proficiency in the common tasks of First Aid, Commo,  Land Nav, Movement as a Buddy Team and in a patrol, and be proficient and accurate in the use of your primary weapon, when even a Dental Hygienist in the Army has to do it every year, how do you plan on functioning in an ‘Infantry’ type role?”. Remember that? Probably not huh?

Something else of note that was “made clear” in one of the comments on the last post was that we apparently don’t explain terminology well enough. The terms in question were “Offensive” (you are taking the fight to the bad guys) and “Defensive” (you are defending what you already have secured against the bad guys) in the context of operations. My response was thus, “You make out like we treat you like you are stupid, then get pissed when I don’t explain simple terms like “Defensive” and “Offensive”. Make up my mind, are you guys a bunch of illiterate, dull eyed retards, or are you rational, generally above median, adults (like I believe you are)?”.

This type of juvenile criticism is one of the reasons many of you get grief from people that are knowledgeable and experienced in the craft you wish to learn. So here’s the deal,  if it is a term that is specific to the subject I am writing about, and not in common use, I will explain and define it. If it’s something simple like the two terms above, I expect you to look it up via google, a dictionary, or any of the following Field Manuals: FM 7-8, FM 21-75, ST 21-75-2 (presently the SH 21-76), or the ST 21-75-3.

What follows is the thoughts of the same four Combat Arms Vets who contributed to the first post. They all have a unique perspective, but you will notice, once again, a recurring theme. After the last contribution is complete, I will give some thoughts in closing.

Read the rest, here.

Mason Dixon Tactical


Last week a group of four Combat Arms Veterans contributed to a post I wrote concerning the premise that, “on a good day, a civilian that has taken 3 or 4 SUT type classes from a Tactical Trainer won’t even be at the experienced Infantry PFC level”. Although the majority of the comments, both here on WRSA,  and in email were positive, even though there were still those who are still unwilling to mesh reality with their delusions of grandeur, concerning their level of training, and it’s comparison to that of the experienced Infantry PFC.

I have mentioned a number of times (these highlighted links are just a few examples) a variation of this theme, “You are not a Commando/Infantry, but you do not need to be.”. I actually had a guy say, “YES! and if you had just said it this way from the beginning then you might…

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Lies About, “Knife Fighting” Your Mother Never Told You….


First, before we get into the post as written by ‘Marc MacYoung’, which I very much agree with on the whole; the man makes a lot of sense, I am an admitted ‘student of the knife’ when it comes to capabilities and techniques.  Out of all the years I’ve studied one system or another, technique upon technique, I’ve learned a few good things:  A:  Knife duels (what most consider a ‘knife fight’) are rarer than hen’s teeth.  B:  People who say they prefer to get into a fight with a knife wielding opponent are either 1 – consummate bullshiters or 2 – in possession of a ‘less than sane’ death wish.  C:  All the knives in the world and all the ‘knife training’ in the world will not prepare you for a knife attack.  Read the article.  Knife attacks are more precisely defined as ‘assassination attempts’.  Also, pay particular attention to what the writer says about ‘self-defense’.  You have to know when to stop….many don’t.

The only place where the knife fighting fantasy exists is in the martial arts. There is no such thing in the modern civilized world. In legal terms it is attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon or homicide. To the streetfighterit is assassination, not a “fight” at all. To the criminal it is a tool for robbery  Everyone else considers it abhorrent macho stupidity. 


Knife fighting lies

On this page:
Lie #1You’re going to have time to draw your own weapon | Lie #2 It’s going to be a knife “fight” | Lie #3 But what if I’m cornered?” | Lie #4 He’s going to attack you a specific  way | Lie# 5 And then he is going to passively stand there while you carve him | Lie #6 Trapping and stripping | Lie #7 Bio-mechanical cutting | Lie #8 Knowing how to stickfight means you know how to knife fight | Lie #9 Knowing kali makes you a knife fighter | Lie #10 Grappling with a knife | Lie #11 The knife is an extension of your hand | Lie #12 There is such a thing as a “master knife fighter” | Lie #13 That this is a “fight” at all | Lie #14 Expect to get cut | Lie #15 The FMA are the ultimate knife fighting systems | Lie #16 It’s easy to disarm an armed opponent | Lie #17 You can successfully fight an armed attacker | Lie #18 Drills teach you how to knife fight | Lie #19 You can use a knife on another human being without legal repercussions

There are many so-called “experts” who claim to be able to teach you either knife fighting or defense against a knife. The problem is that most of them are just teaching regurgitated martial arts, usually from the Philippines. While I have lots of respect for the martial arts of other lands, the truth is that you live where you do. Odds are you are not in a “knife culture.” And that means that whatever you do regarding knives must:

A) Work to keep you alive against how you are likely to be attacked by a knife in your homeland
B) If it does work, not put you in prison for murder or manslaughter

While B is important, it only becomes an issue if you survive A. Unfortunately, based on a lot of what I have been seeing taught with my own eyes or encountered while working with the students of these self-proclaimed “knife experts” getting past A is going to be a whole lot tougher than you think. Quite simply, most knife assaults are assassination attempts…how they occur is significantly different than how one “knife fights.” While I express my opinions on other knife instructors elsewhere, what this page is for is to help you avoid some of the more common pitfalls with what is being taught out there.

Oh yeah, one more thing, always remember…it’s your ass on the line out there, so don’t let *anybody* tell you that you don’t have the right to ask about these things or think for yourself.

Read the rest, here, then let’s have a good discussion on the subject.

What Passes for Defense Against Rape in Finland and the US DoD…

"Gun Fu" - Out Performs Any Other Method of Rape Defense

                                             “Gun Fu” – Out Performs Any Other Method of Rape Defense

Un. Be. Liev. Able.  Full article, here.  Apparently, the good-old, tried and true, guaranteed to get the rapist to piss himself method of pulling a pistol by a well-trained and CPL possessing woman is out of vogue.  Well, as we’re not ‘slaves to fashion’ here, we’ll stick with teaching the old, more effective ways.  Just sayin’.

A couple excerpts:

“One of the biggest viral stories on social media last week was a laughably idiotic Finnish “how to” video that ostensibly demonstrates the proper way for women to defend themselves against rapists. The video, produced by state-run broadcaster Yle, reveals the top three police-certified methods that women should use against an attacker: “No,” “Push,” and “Handbag.””


“In June 2012, Capt. Yolanda Y. Reagans became DEOMI’s first black female commandant. And in January 2013, DEOMI debuted an instructional video that has to be seen to be believed. Titled “Bystander Intervention Training,” the video introduced Americans to the nine points of “nonviolent action” that can stop a murderer or rapist cold in his tracks. Forget guns. Forget knives. Forget karate, pepper spray, or even Finnish handbags. These nine government-approved courses of action are all anyone needs (or should be allowed to use) in response to a rape or murder in progress.

The video opens with a startlingly brutal cartoon re-creation of the murder of Catherine “Kitty” Genovese, the 28-year-old woman whose rape and murder in a Queens neighborhood in 1964 sparked national soul-searching after it was reported that neighbors ignored her cries for help. Genovese was stabbed repeatedly in the back by a stranger named Winston Moseley, who then raped her as she lay dying. Moseley was a serial killer and necrophiliac whose “thing” was to stab a woman and rape her as she bled out. Ideally, he’d try to climax at the moment his victim passed.

I’ll admit, initially I was baffled that a government-led agency, one commanded by a black Obama appointee, would choose to dramatize the Genovese murder. Genovese was white, Moseley was black, and the “cartoon” doesn’t hide that fact. In retrospect, I think I understand why the Genovese case was chosen, but I’ll get to that later.

After dramatizing the Genovese murder, the video presents the nine nonviolent actions that one should take if confronted by a rapist/murderer/necrophiliac like Moseley. Here are the nine points, verbatim. No, this is not satire:

(1) Name or Acknowledge the Offense
(2) Identify the Obvious
(3) Interrupt Behavior
(4) Publicly Support the Aggrieved Person
(5) Use Body Language
(6) Carefully Use Humor
(7) Encourage Dialogue
(8) Ease Strong Feelings
(9) Call for Help

The video’s narrator, a young “woman of color” who initially appears in civilian clothing only to morph into full uniform at the video’s end (damn, I should have said “spoiler alert”), explains that although “assault or rape” is the first thing that comes to mind when “bystander intervention” is involved, these strategies can also be used to combat “harassment, hazing, or discrimination in its infancy.” As ludicrous as the Finnish video is, this one is a hundred bad miles of worse. “Humor”? “Body language”? “Dialogue”? “Easing strong feelings”? In the face of an attack by someone like Winston Moseley? At least the Finnish video allows the victim to touch the prospective rapist. The Department of Defense video prohibits any physical contact. Because of course any serial-killing necrophiliac rapist will respond well to “humor.” I’m surprised the video didn’t come with an accompanying book of jokes to help break the ice.”



Where Should You Train?

You might be expecting a long justification that you should train here, at DTG.  Well, before going any further, you must understand that DTG means this:  We don’t care where you train.  Truly.

Train here, train elsewhere, so long as you are satisfied with the training you receive and you are getting yourself ready to protect your, ‘precious cargo.’

It is entirely your choice and decision because you will pay the consequences or enjoy the rewards when you fail to meet or meet and overcome, the life threatening challenges the crisis many believe is coming in the foreseeable future will present  What’s more, DTG supports your decision whether you engage us to train you or not.

One might ask, ‘where do these guys get this mindset?’

Simply, from our study of various martial arts spanning a good length of time.

Oral tradition states that Dojos of old sometimes hung a rather esoteric sign outside that passersby could clearly see before they entered. This sign was not hung at ‘money belt’ or ‘faint hearted’ schools whose primary objective was increasing revenue.  It was hung only outside of Dojos where the training was very demanding physically, intellectually, and required the utmost dedication from attendees. The student had the responsibility to earn the knowledge he would gain through dedicated training.  The sign contained no words. In place of words, it simply depicted three symbols: a sickle (Kama), a rice bowl (wan) and the phonetic symbol for the sound “nu” as you can see from the image above.



These symbols form the phrase, “Kamawanu.” While there is no direct translation, the phrase is interpreted variously as “It doesn’t matter” and “I (we) don’t care.” Martial arts oral tradition has a more figurative interpretation: When displayed outside a hard-core Dojo, the phrase, “Kamawanu,” was to be interpreted as:

“We don’t care if you enter or not, we don’t care if you challenge us or not.”

Entry and challenge of the students at such a dojo, let alone challenging the ‘master,’ could be a life altering exercise, to say the least! An even more modern interpretation that might fit any school that is concerned with imparting the skills necessary to stay alive could be:

“We don’t care whether you train or not.”

Interpreted in this manner, Kamawanu can be used to issue a challenge to the reader as a means of motivating self-improvement in knowledge and skills and thereby rising above the level one is at, where ever that may be.   It also means that your existence is your responsibility.  There is no free lunch, as the old axiom admonishes all of us.  To accept a challenge such as this, the person must have the inner strength and confidence to willingly and without reservation negotiate the hardships that are inherent in learning the skills we, and other schools offer physically, mentally, emotionally, and philosophically.



If you accept that challenge and learn to meet the requirements, you may culminate your training by achieving a mindset where you no longer care if you’re challenged or not because you know you can meet whatever comes your way so long as you breathe.




Scenario Planning: Concealing Heavy Duty Body Armor And Sidearms

JC provides some great considerations for when it’s not a full-blown SHTF scenario.  What he presents below is a good reason for when to use varying types of body armor, and how to wear it.

Mason Dixon Tactical

Last week we talked about whether a long gun was appropriate to carry, and which ones are somewhat concealable. This time we’ll talk about methods I’ve used to conceal a handgun. We’ll also review what heavy duty (rifle plates) body armor and long gun ammo rigs can be concealed, and how to do it. Concealing your gear and weapons in the “In between” time period of bad times could mean the difference between life and death. At a minimum, being seen wearing heavy duty body armor will probably bring unwanted questioning by those in authority, so concealment is the way to go if at all possible.

100_0245 Level 3A soft body armor. A full size pistol (Beretta M9) in a paddle holster (two mag pouch on off side). The pancake is one of the best external belt holsters for concealing a pistol, especially a full sized one.

100_0246 Side view pancake holster

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File Under Training Validation

Two Couples Ambushed By Group Of Men While Walking Down Detroit Street, Stripped Of Clothes And Sexually Assaulted


DETROIT (WWJ) – The hunt is on for a group of men in Detroit who allegedly attacked two couples while they were walking down the street, forcing the male victim to watch as his female companion is gang raped.

The first incident unfolded around 11:30 p.m. Thursday in a well-lit area near McNichols Road and Birwood Street. The alleged attack happened in a northwest neighborhood just blocks away from Marygrove College.

Read the rest, here.

Need combatives training?  Just in case you want to, “Finish It Now”?  We can help.

Many Thanks!


To the folks who’ve come to DTG for private training and scheduled classes for their folks, THANK YOU!  We truly enjoy the opportunity to meet new folks and bring them into the world of Neighborhood Protection Team planning and training!  From TC3, Land Nav, and NPT AO Basic Security, you’ve kept us busy and we appreciate it.  So much so that we’ve had little time for ‘open enrollment’ classes this year!  We are humbled and awed at the same time.

For those who might be thinking of coordinating some training with DTG, please send a note to ‘’ and describe the type of training you’re after.  If we’re not able to provide it due to schedule or area of expertise, we’ll gladly refer you to those we believe can do so!

Some of the training we can provide:

  • Home Preparedness Assessments & What to Do
  • Introduction to Neighborhood Protection Planning & Individual Skills
  • Neighborhood Protection Planning – Advanced
  • NPTDOC (NPT Defense Operations Center) Set Up
  • Effective NPT Leadership
  • Land Navigation
  • NPT Security Patrolling
  • Basic Rifle Marksmanship
  • FIN (Finish It Now) Combatives
  • NPT Night Operations Fundamentals
  • Primitive Skills Adaptation (Survival) – Basic, Intermediate, Advanced

If you’ve been thinking about it, please get us a note in the next few weeks; our calendar is filling up quickly, and we’d like to help you become more self-sufficient in the event a grid down situation occurs.



Combatives – Fighting Attributes


Whatever combatives or martial arts program you choose to practice, hopefully it balances training between technique development, fighting attribute development and stress inoculation (which is nothing more than varying pre-determined levels of physical and mental adversity or “suck” while having to perform a task to a certain level of proficiency).


While the art or program you train in may be different from mine, if you and I are good fighters, we share some common fighting attributes.  Our ability to “bring the hurt” is more dependent on these under lying fighting attributes than the perfection of the technique employed (although fighting attributes and technique perfection do complement each other).

Let’s take a look at what makes us similar as fighters; or, more specifically, our common attributes:


  1. Cover – Allows the Self-Defense Fighter (SDF) defend against or minimize the enemy strike. Having your “guard up” instinctively the moment an attack is realized will cover vulnerable areas on your body. This attribute is practiced through proper fighting stance drills to say the least. Eventually through practice, the moment your body senses trouble, you will enter a defensive posture, whether against an initial attack or punch 452 in the midst of a knock down drag out.


  1. Footwork – Has has everything to do with setting up the angle on an opponent for your strike and subsequent follow through combinations. Much emphasis should be placed on developing this fighting attribute. When boxers are seen in ring moving back and forth, side to side, without throwing a punch, you’re seeing a constant check and counter between the fighters. One fighter tries to set up an angle to strike while the other counters this setup and in turn tries to setup the angle on his opponent.  As important at footwork is to the successful fighter, it is surprising to see all of the You-tube videos out there that demonstrate how little time and effort is spent explaining proper footwork.  It’s been said that footwork drills are not flashy and don’t help recruit students.


  1. Command of Range – This is simply controlling the overall survival situation of a street fight. You probably won’t have time to employ sophisticated footwork and wait for the best opening. After all, a street fighting survival situation is NOT a boxing match.  If we are forced to fight, the goal is to attack the attacker the moment he steps into range* (over the “trigger line”).  *Here’s a tip:  An opponent steps into range a lot further out than many like to think.  Proper command of range drills allow the SDF to pre-empt the attacker who is moving in on him.  It’s also another reason while we love the BJJ art, we also believe that you’d better have a good stand up game to handle multiple opponents (fights are rarely fair, and thugs will not fight you one at a time).


  1. Combinations – Combinations not only punish an opponent but are also used to set up an angle to finish the opponent off and end the fight. Combination drills must be effective and used with violence of action to drive the opponent back, giving the SDF the momentum to end the fight.


  1. Movement – Movement’s purpose is to disallow your opponent the ability to set for an attack or counter attack. Movement also minimizes the effectiveness of an attack when a blow is landed on the SDF. We train SDFs to not stay static. It isn’t just about keeping your feet moving.  Notice when you watch two boxers, they constantly keep their head and shoulders moving so that it’s hard for their opponent to line up a shot.


  1. Follow Through – Follow through combines the fighting attributes of proper combinations and movement so that the SDF becomes more effective in his attack.Correctly executed follow through increases the power and speed of an attack, whether the SDF is entering, driving the opponent back with combinations, or finishing the fight with a devastating elbow to the temple.


  1. Awareness – The recognition of attacks before they happen as well as reading telegraphed strikes defines fighting awareness. Sometimes an opponent will drop their chin, sometimes they will twitch funny or look to the area they are going to strike. This attribute is developed with experience in drilling and sparring.


  1. Speed – Is the overall reaction of the SDF in general. This attribute is developed over time, with experience in training through muscle memory and reacting to recognition of the telegraphed attacks that a training partner launches. When speed is built over time through much practice, you might feel slow, but you won’t realize how fast you actually have become when the adrenaline is pumping, until someone says, “Oh my G-d, you looked like you just performed a magic trick”.  In reality, the brain will have performed self-defense reactions in training so many times, that you are fighting on a subconscious level opposed to a conscious level.


So the next time the conversation begins . . . “my kung-fu is better than the other guy’s king-fu”, we can sit back knowing those guys are missing the boat.  Yeah, some fighting styles have strengths in certain areas over others, but it’s the fighting attributes, developed by a proper instructor that makes a fighter, just as much as it is the technique properly employed.


“Overcoming Style – A man doesn’t excel because of his style. It’s only when a man can go outside the bounds set by his system that he excels. If a martial artist can practice a style without being bound and limited to his particular school, then and only then can he be liberated to fit in with any type of opponent. A great majority of instructors, however, blind their practitioners and brainwash them into believing only their school of training is best.”

—Dan Inosanto, 1972

Look for a combatives handbook to be released by DTG toward the new year . . .

Combatives – Management of Unknown Contacts

Follow the link for pictures with the context of the article.  Craig’s systematic approach to controlling the outcome of a situation before it becomes “a situation” is top notch.  We incorporated his style of MUC into our FIN Combatives program a while ago.  Take a look at the article . . . you won’t be disappointed.

Craig Douglas’s Management of Unknown Contacts

Managing Unknown Contacts

by Southnarc (aka Craig Douglas)

I’ve been on the road now teaching citizen self defense courses for about a year, and it’s been very educational for me. I’ve been able to improve my own course work based on student feedback and more importantly I’ve been able to prioritize the presentation of my material.

As everyone probably knows at this point I’m a fanatic about contextually underscored training. We should always be examining the problem and focus our solutions accurately.

Tactics, I’ve come to realize in the citizen self defense world are more often than not, merely paid lip service to. Most training focuses on technical development of motor skills whether that’s shooting, blade work, or empty hand skills.

So what we’re going to focus on in this tutorial are tactics, particularly pre-engagement tactics. I teach this block of instruction first in every class I do, regardless of the particulars of the skill-set, and I feel like it’s probably the most important.

Lee has already written an excellent piece on stranger confrontations, and this material is very in-line with his thread. This is just my take on the subject matter.

There have been several threads in The Codex already which cover the Criminal Assault Paradigm and it’s important that one study that material first. After all we must understand the problem, before we can discuss solutions.


We speak about this often in self defense and protection training and we even have models such as The Color Code to help us understand this concept. Awareness is critical. The more aware we are of our environment, the earlier we can spot a potential problem developing.

Is there any key to “awareness”?

The biggest issue I see with the population and awareness is task fixation in public venues. When I say “task fixation” I mean allowing yourself to become overly distracted by whatever menial chore you happen to have to perform.

Examples of this?

Talking on a cell phone.

Now we all do this in public, but how often have we seen someone totally engrossed in the conversation they’re having and completely oblivious to the environment? I use an earpiece usually and this keeps my hands free and more importantly my head upright. We all use cell phones day in and out, but be cognizant of not allowing yourself to become so fixated with the task of speaking, that you forget where you’re at and what’s around you.

Finding the right key

Is there any reason that one couldn’t do this in the safety of a well light supermarket, before they walk into that poorly lit parking lot?

Sitting in a stationary vehicle with the ignition off

This is a pet peeve of mine that’s a borderline phobia, I believe due in part to the number of times I’ve been assaulted in a vehicle. One is extremely vulnerable in a stationary vehicle. Is there any reason why we can’t wait to balance the checkbook until we get home?

Now these are all simple common sense things, but unless you are conscious of the tendency we all have towards task fixation, it’s really easy to allow oneself to fall prey to it.

Avoid task fixation in public.

That’s the best advice I can give someone to increase their sphere of awareness.

Maintaining Range

So we should understand that awareness is a key factor in identifying a potential problem early.

The earlier I identify a potential problem the more time I have to choose a solution.

In this pic I’m being flagged by an unknown contact. At this point I have no clue as to whether his intentions are benign or hostile, but because I picked up on the problem early I have more time to try and manage this unknown contact.

What I do is step around the bumper of a vehicle to put a slight barrier between he and I.

At this point, what I have to do is maintain range. If this unknown contact is hostile then he’s going to want to close the gap on me. Why? To take what he wants by force or threat of force. Even firearms assaults perpetrated by bad guys usually entail getting up close and personal with the victim. Criminals don’t want to get caught and generally are trying to be furtive. If the bad guy stands off at five yards and holds me at gun point, that’s going to be much more obvious to any passerby or beat cop, than if he has a pistol stuck in my gut while he hugs me close like a drunken friend.

To maintain range I have to use some kind of verbage. I have to tell him something that makes him stop coming closer.

Now the debate here is do you ask someone what they want or what their business is or do you tell them to stop and hold their ground?

I think a good middle ground for the initial verbalization with an unknown contact is to ask politely but firmly for someone to stop. A phrase such as “Hey buddy would you hold there for a minute?” allows someone to comply with your request, which isn’t rendered rudely. If they stop advancing, then you can ask them what they want.

It’s a small thing, but if your initial verbalization is “Can I help you?” then that does nothing to maintain range and actually encourages someone to come closer.

Now let’s discuss verbalization a bit.

If you have asked him to stop and he doesn’t what then?

If you have range, which we understand is directly proportional to our awareness, we can ramp up our verbage from a request to a command. What I also recommend is that you change the specific language and increase the volume. So if we start at “Hey buddy would you hold there?” we’ll kick it up next to “I said BACK-UP!”

What if he still doesn’t stop or say he begins to verbalize somewhat but still keeps advancing?

Once again, we can kick up our verbage a bit by adding some profanity.

Now there are some trainers that will tell you to never, ever use profanity. What I’ve seen over my career in law enforcement is that profanity is part of criminal vernacular and bad guys understand it. If you do elect to use profanity, use it to accentuate the message and don’t directly insult someone with it. There’s a big difference between “Back the f*ck up” and “Back up motherf*cker”.

So if we have range and time we can escalate within our verbal options from:

A polite request to stop advancing.
A louder command to stop advancing, using different specific language.
Shout the same command at the top of your lungs and accentuate that with carefully selected common criminal vernacular, i.e. profanity.

Along with verbalization we want to utilize our Fence.

In discussions I’ve had with the UK combatives community, the primary reasoning for the fence in their application, is a platform for the preemptive strike. The fence indeed does excel at this but there are two more things that it does also.

First, a palms outward fence in particular reinforces the verbal message to not come any closer. Secondly, a good high fence, frames a quicker, more efficient default response should that be required.


At some point in an unknown contact management, as much as possible we want to try and assess the threat potential.

Now we can’t ever know what’s going on in another person’s mind, but there are recurring kinesic “cues” that manifest themselves more often than not.

In my undercover heyday, usually after something bad happened to me, I’d go back and watch the video, trying to figure out why I had just been hurt or had my ass handed to me. After some time I realized that the same things were happening time and time again right before it went south. Later, after I came out and started working top-side (opposite of undercover) and began running my own informants and U/C officers, anytime an assault occurred I’d watch the video and see the same things that I had seen in my own.

So I’m going to cover some common pre-assault cues, or recurring body language that assailants exhibit right before they launch. Now this list is not comprehensive, and there are more than what I’m going to list, but I have personally seen these three occur time and time again. We’re going to discuss these three as a “cluster” and then add one more pre-assault cue that I want you to think about stand alone. So it’s kind of a “3+1” model.

The first cue that we’ll discuss is Grooming. When I say Grooming, I mean any kind of movement of the hand around the face. I’m not a psychologist, but I’ve been told that this is some kind of unconscious effort to mask deception and this correlates to grooming cues that I’ve seen both right before an assault, and from subjects who are lying in formal interrogations that I’ve conducted as an investigator. A grooming cue might be rubbing the back of the head.

The back of the neck.

Or perhaps covering the mouth.

Regardless of the specific behavior, these cues all fall under the grooming category.

Next we have Target Glancing usually to the subject’s own 3, 9 or 6 o’clock.

Here we have a target glance to the subject’s 3 o’clock combined with a grooming cue.

Followed by another glance over to 9 o’clock

Finally the last cue we’ll discuss is a Discernible Weight Shift. Usually when someone shifts their weight noticeably from one foot to the other, or from one side to another, the reason for this, is that it’s an effort to increase traction. They might not be aware of why they’re doing it but that’s the reason.

The side or foot that the weight shifts to, quite often can indicate the handedness of the person that you’re dealing with. That may not even be useful information, but there again it may be.

Here we have a target glancing to 6 o’clock……

…followed by a discernible weight shift from the left foot to the right. He has planted himself.

So our “cluster” of pre-assault cues are grooming, target glancing and a discernible weight shift.

If we combine that cluster of three with a fourth stand alone cue of a furtive movement of the hand towards the waist, then that’s a lot of information that we can reasonably assume means an assault is possibly imminent when that information is framed in the context of the environment and an unknown contact management scenario.

So far this is where we’re at.

1. Awareness is critical to recognizing a problem early

2. The key to good awareness is avoiding task fixation in public.

3. Once a potential problem is identified we utilize verbage reinforced with the fence to maintain range.

4. We can escalate within verbage.

5. While verbalizing with an unknown contact we should make as good of an assessment about intent as possible, looking for pre-assault cues which manifest themselves.

The objective of this process is to give one the option of, and criteria for preemption. Preemption or taking initiative is always preferred to waiting on the other person to do something. We train a default position for when we screw up this process.

Now we’ve discussed the Criminal Assault Paradigm and we should understand that quite often there will be another assailant involved. Why wouldn’t there be? After all it increases the chances of successfully committing a crime.

One thing we should include in our unknown contact management process is a scanning procedure that allows us to focus on the known potential threat, while bringing the probable unkown threat into our visual periphery.

So what we’ll do during our contact management phase, is actually improve our chances of picking up a second adversary by improving our position.

Specifically what we’ll do is move all the way to our 9 or 3 o’clock while maintaining a hard focus on the known. The reason that we move to 9 or 3 is to bring what was behind us into our periphery.

This means that you don’t turn your head and look behind you. If you do that while someone is only a step or two away, they’ll own you if they want to.

Here, automatically, I’ve begun to move to my three o’clock. Notice I don’t turn my head away from the known problem.

And I end up on my three, able to discern an incoming adversary in my periphery, who was coming in on my 6 had I not moved. That’s the main thing we’re looking for with this particular tactic, is to be able to pick up movement.

Same thing in this series except for now I’ll move to my nine…

Continually moving so I can pick up what was behind me in my periphery….

…until I reach my objective and see…

“Oh sh1t!” “Got one coming behind me”.

In teaching this on the road over the past year I’ve noticed that in addition to picking up the unknown threat, it makes it really hard to pin down the good guy and make for any kind of grab, when someone is constantly moving in this manner.

Okay the last tactic we’ll discuss in unknown contact management is preemptively establishing grip on a weapon.

Paul and I usually do a neat little drill on day two of the ECQC course that shows the time differential in the drawstroke between a full concealment presentation and beginning with one’s hand already on the gun. The average between the two is about ¾ of a second. That’s pretty significant and the reason we do this drill is to hammer home the fact that the most difficult part of the drawstroke is in clearing away the concealing garments and establishing grip on the weapon.

Now when we combine this with a one-handed fence with the off-hand we have a very aggressive posture. It is a definitive escalation when we move from a two handed fence…

…to a one handed fence with the strong hand on the butt of the gun.

I really like this position for threat management and have taken to calling it C1 in my typical shorthand, which stands for “Challenge 1”. That’s essentially what we’re doing when we do this…we’re challenging a potential threat and it also happens to be the first count of the normal drawstroke, hence C1. Just like A2 is the “Averted 2’ which I teach for a temporary muzzle aversion. I like positional dynamics with the pistol to try and stay within the normal scheme of the drawstroke, since drawstroke is our cornerstone fighting motor skill with the handgun in particular.

The cool thing about C1 is that it cuts the draw time way down, but it keeps the pistol in the holster. This is important for two reasons.

First if you screw-up and make an incorrect assessment, no one can say that you pointed a gun at an innocent citizen, hence you can avoid the “brandishing” misdemeanor that some states have.

Secondly the gun is way more retainable in the holster than out of the holster.

So C1 is a really good tactic that has a lot going for it. Any cons?

Well let’s face it, when you make that definitive move to your waistline, it lets him know that we’re armed. That may be a good thing and deter him from making any more advances.

We’ve also let everyone know that we’re armed including that bad guy that we may not see.

When we move to C1 we have to be ready to immediately defend the gun. Now that’s common sense, but the reason I’m making an issue of this is that in my opinion people go to this tactic far to cavalierly without thinking about all the implications of what they’re doing in the context of criminal assault patterns.

So now the movement/scanning procedure becomes even more necessary if we escalate to C1 from the fence.

Moving now to my nine…

…and ending where I can pick up what was behind me in my periphery.

That’s it for this one guys. This material, whether it’s the way I teach it or someone else’s take, is probably the most important that one can master. If you really own this stuff, for the most part you’ll probably never get criminally assaulted.