I Know Smith And Wesson
Once, when training on the campus of Utah State with an old friend of mine, a passer by was compelled to go out of his way and approach us in a quiet room in the basement of one of the dorms. “Yeah, well I know Smith and Wesson.” was how he chose to make his presence known. My reply was, “Is he here with you now?” The guy lowered his eyes, let out a sigh and walked on.
Have Firearms Made Martial Skill Obsolete?
Defensive handgun skills are a perfectly viable and important aspect of self defense and personal safety. However, I’ve seen far too many gun fixated individuals who simply don’t understand to true nature of personal conflict and violent situations. After all, The simple state of owning a firearm does not ensure proficiency in their use or even in their safe and responsible possession.
Last week while at the range, a Range Officer started up a conversation, not knowing me personally, nor of my background in the Martial Arts. The conversation turned to self defense and he mentioned that most defensive handgun situations would take place in under 10 feet. I though to myself, using a firearm, while definitely effective, can sometimes be quite impractical. Both from a legal standpoint as well as from a physical one.
Guru Dan Inosanto and Tuhon Leo Gaje Jr. have done much research and contributed greatly to the tactics involved with close quarters weapons based tactics. The video above was from a Law Enforcement Training video entitled “Surviving Edged Weapons”.
Guru Marc Denny has also contributed to this body of knowledge with his collaboration with Gabe Suarez in their “Die Less Often” series.
WARNING!!! SOME OF THE IMAGES IN THE VIDEO BELOW ARE DISTURBING AND GRAPHIC. VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED
Experts such as these have helped to establish a principal well known to Law Enforcement as the “21 foot Rule”. But as civilians, it’s going to be hard to justify drawing down on a probable threat at 21 feet. If you are attacked, chances are, the gap has already been closed and familiarity with empty hands techniques will be necessary to stave off the initial attack and make the time and distance necessary to deploy any sort of self defense weapon.
The Role of MMA Style Training In Defensive Tactics
Will MMA, Submission Grappling, Striking or Jiu-jitsu skills be able to totally nullify the Edged Weapons attacks presented in the videos above? Not necessarily. However, neither will possession of a Firearm, Baton, Blade or even expertise in Edge Weapons techniques, in my opinion. But training in any of the above, and especially cross training in the various disciplines will definitely increase your likelihood of survival… or as Guru Denny puts it, will help you to “Die Less Often”.
In particular, what I feel training in MMA, Submission Grappling, Striking or Jiu-jitsu gives you is a sense of time and distance, of conditioning levels, principles of sensitivity, body mechanics and leverage. They familiarize you with angles, positioning and body contact. So that when you pick up a weapon, you better understand it as simply an extension of self vs. as a be all end all magical tool that will ensure victory under any circumstances over any adversary or group thereof.
Martial Arts Go Beyond Simply Aiding Defensive Training
Many of the so called friends of Smith and Wesson (and we use the name here simply as a metaphor for the gun dependent individuals and not as a slight against the actual gun manufacture who I believe produces quality products and provides the public with a valuable service), will suffer from heart attacks and corronary heart disease long before they ever use their firearms skills… if they do in fact have them.
Martial Arts provide much more than simply techniques, and training for defensive situations. They provide a base level of fitness and health that extend beyond the very practical aspects of self defense.
Some will say the chances of you ever using your Martial Arts are so slim that they simply aren’t worth the investment in time and money. I’d venture the same bet for home insurance, something which you could live without if you absolutely had to. And yet, these same people dutifully pay their premiums, month after month, attempting to insulate themselves from a situation that they hope will never, and probably won’t ever happen.
What About Empty Handed Threats?
I definitely believe the best way to learn about and handle weapons based attacks is from experts in weapons based arts such as Kali, Escrima, and Arnis. But what about an unarmed attacker? I think the same goes for empty hands. Seek out an expert in empty hands instruction. Having the ability to go empty handed gives you a lot more options versus immediately escalating to the use of a firearm or other lethal weapons.
Having skills with empty hands also gives you skills that will only contribute to your use of weaponry should the need ever arise. Breath control, fine motor skills, stance, all of these are integral parts of marksmanship fundamentals. Footwork and angulation are hugely important in the weapons based arts of the Philippines.
Empty hand Martial Arts are still the safest, most versatile and beneficial form of self protection and defense. And no one ever said that Martial Artists aren’t good friends with Smith and Wesson too.
What Are Your Thoughts?
What are your thoughts on the role MMA, and related Martial Arts play in Self Defense and Defensive Tactics Training?