Tag Archives: gun disarms will get you shot

Q&A: When to use Gun Disarms

So is it better to attempt a (good, learned) disarm or not? Like, if someone’s pointing a gun at you, there’s already a chance you could get shot anyway because gun safety teaches you not to point guns at things you don’t intend to destroy. Or, when writing criminals, should you disregard some gun safety rules because they won’t be following them?

The purpose for gun disarms is when you’re in a situation where someone is going to kill you. The logic is; if you’re going to die anyway, might as well die trying to survive, rather than letting someone else make that decision for you.

I slap some variation of “gun disarms will get you shot” in the tags every time the subject comes up, because it’s true.  Attempting a gun disarm is a very good way to catch a bullet. Thing is, you’re supposed to be using these in situations where that was going to happen anyway, so getting shot isn’t a step down.

You are not supposed to use gun disarms in situations where you probably won’t get killed. This is why any good self defense program will tell you to simply hand over your wallet when someone mugs you at gunpoint. Yeah, you’re losing money, but you’re not going to take a bullet, and the contents of your wallet aren’t worth your life. In a situation like that, attempting a disarm and failing is far worse than the alternative.

Most combat is pretty sloppy. Even for things like grabs, and joint locks, you don’t need to do it exactly, you just need to be, “close enough.” The same is true of firearms, put a couple bullets center mass, and they’re done. Being able to put pinpoint shots into a target at 50 meters with a handgun is impressive, sure, but if you can get two or three hits on a man sized target at that range while struggling through an adrenaline rush, that’s all that matters.

Gun disarms are fairly simple from a mechanical standpoint, but firing a gun at some idiot in close quarters is easier, and far harder to screw up.

Gun safety is very important, but, you’re right, some people just ignore it, and that behavior is not limited to criminals. I’ve seen some egregious mishandling on the range. I still adore this example of cause and effect (warning: mildly graphic.) I have friends (yes, legitimately, friends) who I will not go out on a range with, simply because their weapon handling is just that horrifying.

People do stupid things all the time, and this cuts both ways. People mishandle their guns, and get hurt, sometimes people die. More than a few martial artists have attempted disarms in situations that really didn’t warrant one and took a bullet, with varying survival rates.

There’s also, plenty of mass shooters that were tackled while reloading. Those are, by definition, one of the few times where you have nothing left to lose. If you don’t try, they’ll put a round in you, and anyone in the vicinity, so you might as well, make the attempt.

Yes, there are applications, but the only time you should seriously consider a disarm is when they’re going to kill you anyway. That’s the threshold to aim for.

That’s what that disarm from the knees was about. Someone’s lined you up, on your knees, and they’re going to execute you. That’s also a specific scenario that both of us were taught disarms for. You’re on your knees, they’re going to kill you, “really, what’ve you got to lose if you screw up?”


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Do martial arts like Judo or Tae Kwan Do actually help you against a street attacker, or do they only work in controlled fights were the opponent is following the same rules as you?

Judo is actually the basis for modern police hand to hand training, and more
often than not when you have an officer offering a “self-defense” class in
the US, what you’re actually getting is an adapted form of Judo. It’s not the
exact same martial art, but they’re still close enough that a practitioner in
either can instantly recognize and understand the other.

Tae Kwon Do also has a very strong following as a practical martial art,
particularly in South Korea.

These aren’t bad examples. Almost all modern martial arts are like this.
There’s recreational forms, and practical forms. Which makes it sound like
there’s a hard line between the two, like you go out there and learn a
recreational version of Shotokan, and then come back and take a different class
to learn a version you could potentially use in a real situation. That doesn’t

If you’ve trained to be a practical martial artist, your focus has been on
applying what you’ve learned in real world situations. It doesn’t matter if it’s
Judo, Tae Kwon Do, or even Tai Chi (and, yes, there is a practical strand of
Tai Chi), if you trained to apply it in the real world, then you’re going to be
able to apply it outside of a controlled environment.

If you trained as a recreational martial artist, you might not be able to
transition over into a live situation. Again, this can go for nearly any
martial art, even ones like Krav Maga and Sytema, that ostensibly only exist
for practical application.

It is worth remember that martial artists are people; unique individuals,
just like everyone else. So it is entirely possible for a recreational martial
artist to rely on their training, buckle down, and work their way through real crises
without any problems. Or they can attempt that gun disarm they learned and get
shot. Unfortunately, it goes both ways, and being trained with either goal
doesn’t mean you’re going to win.

Two things affect if someone is a
practical or recreational martial artist. Their outlook, and (more importantly)
their instructor’s outlook. If the instructor and the students have conflicting
outlooks, it will cause problems. Not violence, but it will affect their
ability to communicate.

A recreational martial artist comes to learn a new way to relax, a way to
entertain or divert themselves, to learn something new, maybe just to exercise,
or any number of other reasons.

There’s nothing wrong with this approach. It’s fine. I’ll admit,
recreational Ninjitsu practitioners strike me as very odd. But, it’s a
legitimate choice. Also, the whole thing about using martial arts to find a
kind of spiritual enlightenment, or meditation isn’t bunk. You can actually use
it as a venue for that.

A practical martial artist comes to learn how to deal with immediate, human,
threats. In the process, they horrify most recreational martial artists.

As a practical martial artist, you’re learning to use your body as a weapon,
with the expectation that you may, some day, have to.

Either way, you still learn the same stances, you’re taught the same
techniques (mostly), you undergo (most) of the same physical conditioning.

The biggest difference is: For practical martial artists the priority is in
being able to execute the techniques, closely enough, to make them work. You
still drill for perfection, but the ultimate goal is to be able to apply it to
another human being, and that doesn’t require perfect form. You also learn more
about how opponents will respond and behave.

Really, that’s, basically, the difference. Were you taught to hone your
motions into mechanical perfection? Or did you learn how to skip steps in your
katas, because the real goal was to be able to flow between techniques, picking
the right one for this moment and, not perfectly execute a pre-scripted routine
in the dojo?

Practical martial artists also need to update their training periodically. This
is because, as their training is used in the real world, their opponents learn
and, develop ways to counter and exploit it. So the martial artist then needs
to keep their training up to date. The two biggest examples of this are
military and law enforcement who receive regular updates to their hand to hand

The differences also create a serious disconnect between the elements of the
community. I alluded to it above, but, the core here is recreational and
practical martial artists evaluate themselves on different metrics. I’m also
going to stress, this doesn’t make either group less, or more, legitimate as
martial artists. It’s very easy to look across the gulf and say, “those guys
don’t know what they’re doing,” but, it’s a lot like taking a sports car and a
pickup, sticking them next to each other, and then evaluating the car on its
towing capacity, or the truck on its top speed.

Recreational martial artists are, just that, artists. At the upper end of
the spectrum, they can be fantastic performers.

Practical martial artists are much less interested in looking good
(generally speaking), the purpose is to give the practitioner more options for
dealing with someone who is trying to do them harm. In comparison, they’ll look
sloppy. Hell, I can admit, I look like a terrible martial artist, most of the
time, but, I was always far more concerned with being able to use my training
to provide a degree of safety.

It’s also worth noting, both groups of martial artists can actually get
pretty omnivorous at times, when they’re looking at other martial arts. You
never completely lose your first style, but sometimes you just see something
neat and “borrow” it.

There’s a weird gray area here, which is really in the recreational side, the
competitive martial artist. These are people who participate in MMA,
professional boxers, or other prize fight circuits. They’re training to deal
with an opponent within a controlled environment. In a one-on-one situation,
they can potentially handle themselves, but they haven’t really been preparing
for combat. This frequently results in a few problems. They go way too hard,
and they don’t (usually) know how to handle multiple attackers.

We’ve said this before, many times, but multiple attackers are a serious
problem. They are exponentially more dangerous, even for trained combatants. The
problem is numbers. Fighting more than one person is a balancing act as it
substantially increases the openings an opponent has. It’s a situation where
the inverse of Hollywood is true. Multiple attackers are the most difficult to
deal with, which is why the media always has characters fighting multiple
attackers to the point where it has become commonplace. The truth is, no matter
what your skill level and background, two on one is a dangerous situation to be
in. Forget bigger numbers, an extra person can seriously mess with you. There’s
a real reason why the military works in units and cops, generally, travel in
pairs. Sport martial artists are (slightly) more likely to overestimate their
own abilities, and wade in when they’re outmatched.

For a lot of sport martial artists, when they do get into a fight, they tend
to apply their training, which is true for nearly everyone, but it’s a problem
because they’ve trained to go full throttle. Without moderating to the
situation they’re in, this results in some really messy beatings. Once the
police are called in, they view it as an egregious overreaction, and we end up
with another story about a punch drunk fighter unable to distinguish real-life
from the ring. And before the incoming ‘but’ arrives, I’ve heard the stories
about third degree black belts who did try a gun disarm in a real life
situation and got shot.

The way I’ve phrased it sounds like there’s some insurmountable gulf between
recreational and martial artists, but that’s not actually true. I’ve known a
lot of recreational martial artists over the years who were fantastic people,
and learned a lot from them, and vice versa.


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I know nothing on firearms I was originally not going to have my character use guns at all but I thought him having two pistols for emergencies/last resort would be a good idea, I remember from the movie John Wick that he used something called central axis relock what can you tell me about that and just firearms in general

Central axis relock is just a CQB pistol stance. It’s relatively recent, though it’s already jumped from law enforcement and military only to civilian accessible. Basically, CAR holds the gun much closer to the face and body than a Weaver stance, which plays havoc with traditional pistol disarms, and has a tendency to convince people who’ve been trained in the Weaver stance that you don’t know what you’re doing.

It’s probably worth stressing, CAR is only the pistol stance where Keanu has the weapon gripped with both hands close to the face and the flick reload. Most of the time he’s in a Weaver stance. Firing arm fully outstretched and locked, body at 45 degrees, off hand bent to stabilize the pistol? That’s Weaver. Anytime he’s firing the gun with one hand, that’s just sloppy firearms handling. Given what’s going on, it’s not unforgivable, but you never operate a modern pistol one handed.

With the quick caveat that I haven’t watched the film in it’s entirety, and still need to get to that. Wick is a pretty good example of something we describe. Professional combatants who have acquired multiple different combat styles switching between them as the situation changes. It threads it together with some things that are just choreography, and would be a horrible idea to use in actual combat. Now, I can’t tell you if this was done because it was realistic, or simply because it made the scenes more visually interesting.

I’m told, by people who’ve actually had experience with CAR, that, like all stances, it has its own strengths and weaknesses. I haven’t seen anyone say, specifically, what its weaknesses are, and without first hand experience with it, I couldn’t offer any intelligent speculation on the subject. Though one thing I have seen is that (unless I’m missing something) magazine retention is basically impossible during reloads, so, depending on your handgun, that’s at least $15 gone every time you change magazines, not counting ammo fired. (Figure that, for most semi-automatic pistols, each magazine will cost you between $30 and $40 dollars. And, in some cases can run upwards of $70. If you don’t retain (keep and pocket) your magazines, you’ll have to pay to replace them, or try to find them after the fact, which may not be an option.)

CAR is not a firearm augmented hand to hand style. So far as I know, no such discipline exists. CQB/CQC (Close Quarters Battle/Combat) techniques, particularly gun disarms, are about as close as you’ll get. What Wick is trying to show are CQB techniques. But, CQB is not a specific combat system, it’s a description of a combat situation with it’s own considerations. CQB simply culls techniques from someone’s prior training and says, “if you’re in this kind of a situation, then these techniques will be better options than those ones.”

It’s probably worth pointing out, again, that dual wielding handguns is not, really, a thing. It’s not unheard of for someone to carry a backup handgun, if they’re concerned about their primary suffering a mechanical failure, but they’re not going to be using both. They’ll use a primary; if it jams (and can’t be cleared quickly), is damaged, destroyed, or lost, then they’ll switch to a backup.


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