Men Are Built For Combat: Training Your Reflexes to Work For You In a Threat Situation

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Dear Brendan,

I’m going to pick up quickly where I last left off.  I hope I’m painting a clear picture and you are tracking.  If the water is becoming too muddy, I encourage you to reach out to me directly.  

What we are talking about now is using our body’s natural flinch response to increase our response time to a surprise attack or ambush as it relates to close quarters combat.  

The upside to a surprise attack or an ambush is that it will trigger us to flinch and we now know to embrace this lifesaving reaction from our body.  The better you can take advantage of this to increase your response, the more devastating the outcome for your attacker.

Now I’m going to say something that may seem counter intuitive.  Please just hear me out.  Often times after we flinch we tend to move backwards.  I know it’s common to want to create space and sometimes this is wise.  However what direction do we need to move in most cases to eliminate a threat?  Yes, the answer is forward.  The reality here is most fights happen in a very confined space or extremely close quarters.   

This concept of close is safe or moving into the attack in order to end the threat is similar to what infantry Marines are taught to do in a near ambush.  In a near ambush they are taught to assault through the ambush, assault through the enemy.  

Just do what the Marine Corps does. Easy, right?

Now how does that apply to us?  Again, this requires a demonstration, but I will attempt to explain it here.  This all starts with Situational Awareness, our old friend SA, and our body’s natural response to a surprise attack—what we call a flinch.

It all starts to work together-- our stance, body position, footwork. Our chin goes down, our hands and arms go up to protect our head and face and we step towards the threat.  

Now, we may be in a left or right lead stance.  This depends on which foot, which hand is forward at the time, which side the attacker comes from, which side he throws a strike from and many other variables Are we inside the attacker’s elbows or outside the attacker’s elbows? Our location will dictate some of what we do next to end the fight, end the assault.   

Let’s step back a moment and talk about everyday stances that are non-violent or non-aggressive in nature.  

Think of the Trojan horse.  

You want criminals, attackers, to see the horse and not the warrior.  In today’s violent and uncertain world things can go sideways in the blink of an eye.  It’s also true that just because you have a gun, a badge, or a uniform, don’t think that will protect you from becoming targeted by a criminal or from a surprise attack. Of course it may mean that’s why they target you.

It’s also true that like some animals, if you look some people in the eye they will take that as a sign of disrespect, a challenge or sign of aggression.  We want to deescalate the situation and not add fuel to any smoldering fire.  

OK, so remember to look at the hands, look center mass that gives you visual to his hands, his shoulder and arm movements, or any shift in his body weight.  

Your own stance or posture should not be an overt fighting stance or appear overly aggressive.  You can stand in what police call the field interview stance, or cross your arms with one hand on your chin.  These are both good positions to be in.  These types of stances should not provoke an attack.  But in these stances you are ready in case you must act and eliminate the threat to you or others around you.            

Let me also be clear that this is not a one size fits all solution.  There will be times where it’s clear that you need to take a more overt fighting posture, a more aggressive stance.  This decision to take a non-aggressive or aggressive posture is done quickly as you identify the threat.  Bottom-line here is be ready for anything while giving up as little as possible in your intentions. It’s a tough balancing act and takes practice and thought.  We’re starting now with the toughest fight—the mental fight. I know you can win it.

The combative concepts I’m attempting to get across here are not traditional self-defense tactics or training that teaches you to do set moves, or to do ABC for this, or 123 for that.  Here there are not so much traditional moves but rather how your mind and body picks up subtle cues and SA and then leveraging how your mind and body naturally respond and move. We will continue to build skill sets and attributes, from SA, distance, timing, power, physical, mental, emotional strength, quickness, endurance, confidence, weapon systems, and more. It all starts to come together.

It’s fluid and it flows.  It becomes muscle memory.   

These are some of the differences between traditional martial arts schools, boxing, or even Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA.  Oh, and Brendan-- please do not mistake any of this for the old BS debate over which fighting style or method is better.  This is about what is relevant in the street.  This is about what works best for you and your family.  This will be tailored somewhat differently for each individual and family.  As there is no one size fits all solution and we do not take a cookie cutter approach to our training or methods of instruction.              

At this point I’m willing to bet some of our shooting friends might be saying I would just shoot them.  So let’s put that to the test.  Go ahead and have a training partner put on a pair of boxing gloves, while you holster up and put on headgear.  Now stand within a close quarter combat range or bad breath range.  Please go ahead and try to draw your handgun and shoot before he punches you in the mouth, throat or closes the gap to take your pistol away before you even draw it.  We are all guilty of letting people get too close to us.  So we have to be prepared to deal with such a threat.   

Here is another upside to this combative concept.  You are positioned to flow into various strikes or moves.  There is no right or wrong action in the traditional sense.  The only wrong action is a failure to act. Inaction is the enemy. After you flinch from that surprise attack, that sucker punch, you are not out of trouble but you are positioned to inflict serious damage via various empty hand strikes (open hand, closed hand, head-butts, knees, elbows, eye gouge, foot stomps, low line kicks, edged weapons, knives, a handgun, improvised weapons… they’re all crowd pleasers).     

Well, this is starting to drag on into a much longer conversation than I initially intended, but you know I love it.  So, let’s end this little tea party for now.

I’ll re-engage with you on this subject matter soon. In the meantime stay well and strong and remember, whatever you’re doing, someone out there is training and getting ready for the day you and he will meet.

Your Friend,

-Travis