Saturday, December 31, 2016

Krav Maga for Firearm Management

Do you carry a firearm? Are you prepared to use physical skills to manage and employ that firearm?

Prior to last month I had not fired a weapon since Air Force basic training in 1990. Last month, however, my wife and I attended a four hour introduction to handguns class. This started my journey towards increased proficiency with firearms. The intersection with Krav Maga happened shortly afterwards!

I started December by taking a 4 1/2 hour seminar on Krav Maga for Concealed Carriers and Handgun Users. Pat Hards from First Defense Krav Maga was the lead instructor, and NoVA MMA hosted the class. The picture above shows our group, which was a mix of Krav Maga students and civilians simply interested in the material.

Pat emphasized three main skills. After warm-ups, Pat first drilled striking without a weapon, i.e., using empty hand techniques, along with kicking. Second, we practiced using a gun as a blunt object, for situations where we cannot use it as a firearm. Third, we trained firearm management, especially weapon retention. Over the course of many drills, we struggled as our partners sought to gain control over our weapon, whether holstered or drawn. This proved to be invaluable for all students!

The summary drill was my favorite part of the seminar. One of the other instructors, a big Australian named Richard, dressed in protective gear -- helmet included. Students were led one-by-one into the darkened studio with their eyes closed. When given a command, they opened their eyes and found themselves interacting with Richard.

I volunteered to go first. When I opened my eyes, I caught Richard using my peripheral vision. He was at my 4 o'clock, lunging at my practice gun, holstered at my right side roughly in the 3 o'clock position. I immediately thrust both of my hands onto the pistol grip, catching Richard's hands, and we struggled to control the practice firearm.

I managed to maneuver such that I could employ my only weapon, my free knees. I needed to keep my hands on the pistol until I won the struggle. I was too close to throw kicks. I could have tried a head butt, but Richard was wearing a helmet!

I threw several knees to Richard's midsection and he loosened his grip on my holstered weapon. I raced to put some space between us, and I drew the practice gun and ordered Richard to lay on the ground, face down.

I do not usually consider my military experience at the US Air Force Academy to be all that special, but in that training situation it helped immensely! I issued short and sharp commands with enough force and clarity that Richard complied. Shortly thereafter the lead instructors called "time" and we debriefed the scenario.

Within a minute or so I became aware of the effects of the adrenaline dump that had happened when I felt Richard lunge for my pistol. It took me a few minutes to really consider what had transpired. I learned that it may take a while to give a third party an accurate assessment of what happens in an altercation, so be wary when giving an official account to first responders. You don't want to say something that turns out to be wrong, or puts you in a bad light when facing a jury.

Each participant encountered a slightly different solo scenario. Some had no physical interaction. Some involved being tackled. One participant forgot to bring his practice firearm into the arena! One former law enforcement officer ordered his assailant to get on the ground, when Richard was already simulating unconsciousness on the ground. Several participants drew their weapons despite facing no obvious threat, and many could not remember how their scenario began or what was said.

I thoroughly enjoyed this training, and brought these lessons with me to another training opportunity.  A few hours ago I completed the Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW) class at Silver Eagle Group in Ashburn, VA. This class offered a mix of range and class time. The goal was to teach candidates for Virginia concealed handgun permits the essentials of decision making when armed. I very much enjoyed this class as well, which I took with my wife Mrs B.

I wish every member of today's class could have joined our Krav Maga seminar as well. Today's instructor, David, emphasized that a concealed weapons carrier can be an asset or a liability. The armed citizen is a liability when he or she uses a weapon in a reckless or illegal manner. A carrier who loses control of his or her firearm during a confrontation is certainly a liability!

Krav Maga is the perfect complement to anyone carrying a weapon, whether as a civilian, soldier, or law enforcement officer. Without learning distance management, de-escalation, escape, evasion, striking, and other Krav Maga skills, a firearm carrier can be at a severe disadvantage, despite being armed.

I believe the two schools plan to conduct joint classes in the new year to address these issues. I look forward to reporting on those as well.

Stay tuned for more blog posts in 2017, and thank you for reading in 2016. Happy New Year!

Stay informed of new blog posts by following me on Twitter @rejoiningthetao.

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