PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKES: SOMETIMES IT IS OKAY TO HIT FIRST
This assertion may appear to fly in the face of conventional wisdom. First, aren’t concealed carriers armed with a handgun, which means that they don’t need even rudimentary empty-hand skills, and two, aren’t concealed carriers supposed to always disengage when confronted with a person wanting to provoke a fight?
In a recent article that I wrote titled “One Answer for Three Questions (How to Fail the Victim Interview)” I touched on the subject of interacting with an approaching stranger or other person of unknown intent attempting to close distance by asking seemingly harmless questions. Most of those persons attempting to close in on a concealed carrier will typically stop when told “you need to stay back” or told “stay back!” in a loud voice, but what about those that don’t? What about that person who appears to be visibly enraged who is moving in while shouting profanities, as well as that guy that simply closes distance silently like he is on a search and destroy mission? If the concealed carrier is unable to flee, he or she may only have two options (unless they also have OC spray on their person), and that is to either see how this action plays out or resort to their handgun.
As always, it is the totality of the circumstances that matters. This simply means that before a concealed carrier makes physical contact with another person in a manner that would be deemed justifiable in a court of law, the concealed carrier should believe that safely retreating is not an option and that the other has the ability, opportunity, and intent to harm or kill. In addition, the amount of force used by the concealed carrier must be only that necessary in order to protect themselves.
It is my belief that pre-emptive strikes are indeed warranted in certain circumstances. Even though I have a relatively extensive martial arts background, for the most part I view striking as a means to an end. This means that I think that the primary purpose of a pre-emptive strike in most cases will be to momentarily disorient an approaching party, which may cause the other to completely terminate their forward movement by virtue of the fact that they just found that their target was not nearly as “soft” as they thought it was, allow me to break contact and fully disengage, or as pre-requisite to gaining enough distance to more safely draw my handgun from concealment.
When I say pre-emptive strikes, most people are probably thinking of a closed fist launched with significant force. A sizeable percentage of those people are also likely thinking that their chances of doing that successfully out in the real world are not good. The good news is that a far better pre-emptive strike is done with the open hand and if done properly the odds are good that it will land and momentarily take another out of action. It is difficult to effectively describe the best way to perform this strike in a short article. As a result, I am encouraging readers to go the internet and Google “Craig Douglas Eye Jab Video”. Douglas is recognized throughout the defensive training industry for his ability to expertly integrate multiple martial disciplines into a codified self-defense system that is based upon extensive martial arts practice and lessons learned (some the hard way) from 21 years of law enforcement with the majority of his career spent in SWAT and narcotics.
Craig teaches a simple open-handed eye jab that is extremely effective, easy to deliver, and, in spite of its name, unlikely to result in serious injury to the recipient. I think the best way for me to describe it is like I am hitting someone in the face with a grapefruit without the grapefruit in my hand. The strike is thrown from the chest with a motion more like tossing a tennis ball to a five-year old child a few feet away.
Possibly the best way that I can describe is to recommend to the reader that they simply face a closed door and quickly “thump” it with the tips of all four fingers and the thumb hard enough to make a noticeable impact without injuring the hand. The beauty of this technique is that if thrown without being “telegraphed” by first rearing back in order to achieve additional power, the probability is good that it will land and at least one of the fingertips will impact the eye socket of the encroaching party. In addition, it is unlikely (which is not the same as impossible) that the recipient will suffer severe injury from the strike. I believe that Craig stated that he was aware on one individual on the receiving end that suffered a scratched cornea, which was treated without complications.
Defensive techniques of this nature are a means to an end. In order to achieve the desired end goal, it should be viewed as just another tool that a savvy concealed carrier can call upon if the circumstances are such that a safe retreat is not possible but going to a handgun is not advisable.
Steve is a long-time defensive weapons instructor based out of Texas who has trained hundreds of men and women of all ages for more than two decades on how to better prepare to defend themselves and their loved ones. Steve has completed over 80 private-sector and law enforcement-only defensive weapons and tactics classes, and has trained civilian and law-enforcement officers in six states. Moses is a reserve deputy, former member of a multi-precinct Special Response Team, competitive shooter, and martial artist. Steve has written numerous articles for SWAT Magazine and other publications. Steve is a licensed Texas Level 4 Personal Security Officer and Instructor who was Shift Lead on a mega-church security detail for seven years, and has provided close protection for several former foreign Heads of State. He is currently an instructor at Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu/Krav Maga in Tyler, Texas and Director of Training for Palisade Training Group (www.ptgtrainingllc.com).