Austin purse snatchings – What can we learn?

Some women around Austin have become victims of purse snatching.

Full story. Alas, cannot link the video, but it’s important to watch so we can learn… so yes, click through. (h/t Julianna Crowder)

Seems they are driving around, see a woman and a proper environment (e.g. alone, no one else around), pull over, run up to hear, rip her purse off, then jump in the car and take off.

What can we learn?


Honestly, I’m not sure if “awareness” would have helped here. Everything unfolded quickly, and unless you were jumpy about everything around you, the sounds were normal sounds of the city: a car stopping at an intersection, running footsteps (lots of joggers in this town).

We have to realize, no matter how much training and education we have, while that certainly helps us fare better, it doesn’t make us invulnerable. Shit still happens. So when it does, what can you do in response?

Fight Back

I cannot blame the woman for her reaction: purse came off, she started to fight for her purse via a tug-of-war. It’s a natural reaction, but one she was destined to lose. It doesn’t matter how much you are pro-feminism, pro-women’s rights, etc.,the laws of nature are pretty clear: males are (designed to be) stronger than females, and in a test of strength like a tug-of-war, the man is likely to win.

So what I wonder is, what could the outcome have been like if the victim had a different mindset? Instead of trying to retain her purse by tugging on it, she went on the offensive and tried to retain her purse by attacking the snatcher?

Granted, it might lead back to my first problem of the reality differences between males and females, and she could have gotten hurt more. But if studies have shown that fighting back dramatically increases the likelihood of stopping a rape attack, I think it’s fair to extrapolate that fighting back betters your chances of not being a victim in general. Criminals don’t want a fight, they want a payday.

Another thought is if there was enough struggle, the attacker’s accomplice in the car might jump out and join the attack. No telling what might unfold. This is where weapons help, because multiple attackers is force disparity, and weapons are a force equalizer.


About a month ago, Greg Ellifritz provided some commentary on a purse snatching in Houston.

- What could you do to prevent the attack in the first place? How do you hold your purse so that access to potential thieves is limited? How close do you allow people to get in public spaces? Is that distance different for men than it is for women? If so, why?

I don’t carry a purse, so my advice may be of minimal value. But I have played the role of a purse snatcher in force on force training sessions in the women’s self defense classes I teach. I’ve found that purses held under the arm (like a football) are the hardest for me to take. I would strongly advise women to carry their purses in this manner to reduce theft attempts. I don’t like having the strap wrapped around the woman’s body or neck. The strap may cause injury if the woman is dragged by the attacker, especially if the attacker is in a vehicle like she was here.

It appears in this video the purse was over her same-side shoulder. What if she had the purse across her body (e.g. purse on the left side but strap over the right shoulder)? Granted there’s what Greg said, but certainly such a carry method makes it harder to obtain a purse. Would the attackers have driven on and looked for another (easier) victim? Hard to say, but I do wonder.

As well, she was walking alone. Why? Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but what could she have done to prepare? Could she have kept a canister of OC spray in her right hand, ready for immediate deployment?

Consider the contents of your purse. Since it’s something that could get stolen, are there contents that you may not want to keep in there because they are too precious to lose if stolen? Can your contents be replaced? This is one reason people discourage carrying a gun in your purse, because purses are traditionally such ripe targets for theft – and now they have your wallet, and your gun. Not just the “gee, now there’s another gun for criminals to have and use” but also it means you cannot access yours while in-fight. Same goes for kubatons or OC spray or any other weapon – in your purse isn’t useful to you, once you lose control over your purse.

What did you see?

What did you see in the video? What were your learning points?

Please share in the comments.


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2014-07-23 training log

Based upon Paul Carter’s Strong-15 (LRB365)

Phase 3-3, Week 1-3

  • Bench Press – cycle goal: 245
    • bar x 5
    • bar x 5
    • 125 x 5
    • 145 x 4
    • 165 x 3
    • 185 x 2
    • 195 x 1
    • 205 x 1
    • 215 x 1
    • 185 x 12
  • Incline Press
    • 105 x 10
  • Machine Flye
    • 65 x 20

Things are feeling good here. Just slowly chugging along in the phases… getting excited about the end of the cycle.

I have felt that 6-week cycles are good for me. Like how I did before with 5/3/1 doing one cycle then right into a second cycle with no deload in between, THEN deload after that. I do think that will fare nicely for me.

I’ve also been thinking about what will happen at the close of this cycle. Basebuilding is likely the modality… but there’s something else more important that I’ll be attempting (again).

They don’t think like us

A 78-year old man was pumping gas, when 2 thugs approached him, knocked him out, and robbed him. Watch the video, it’s key to understanding this event.

Video and full story here. (h/t M.D.T.S.)

Here’s what stands out to me from this video.

They don’t think like us

The big thing that stood out to me was the mindset of the criminal.

They don’t think like us.

They don’t think like normal members of society. These two scumbags had no reserves about walking up to an elderly man, punching him, letting him fall to the ground (concussion, and yes falls can kill a person, especially an elderly person), rummage through his pants for whatever the might find, then leave him – bleeding – on the ground.

All they cared about was a quick score, and they were willing to do it at any cost.

I know you could never do something like this. I’m pretty sure you are appalled by this behavior.

Given that, it’s important to realize we cannot apply our same standards to people like this and expect them to comply. Reasoning does not work. Laws do not stop them. More laws will not stop them either. If you want to stop a criminal, you have to speak their language, and the law isn’t it.


I’m not going to claim to be the ultimate tactical guru that’s got his head on a swivel and is always in “code yellow” – because I’m human, and it is impossible to always be in code yellow (gotta sleep sometime, right?). Nevertheless, there are times when we need to make an effort to ensure we stay mindful of our surroundings, such as 4:30 AM at a gas station.

It’s unfortunate the victim had his back turned for so long. He never looked up from what he was doing, never kept his eyes open to see what was going on around him. This may not have prevented the attack, given there were multiple attackers and they obviously had planned to flank him then come up and surround him, blocking him in.

Keep looking at what you are doing. You’ve pumped gas a million times, you know what’s going on and probably could do it with your eyes closed. Given that, divert your eyes and attention elsewhere. Do you really need to stare at the gas cap while you screw it in? Or can you use your eyes to ensure the cap is seated, then look up and around to keep your attention on other things while your hands blindly screw the cap in?

It’s hard. We all get task fixation. We all let our guard down. But look for opportunities to break your fixation (SCAN! SCAN! SCAN!).

No Escape

I’ve started to make it a habit that when I pump gas to:

  1. Pull up to the pump, as far away as I can from the pump
  2. Minimize time between the car and the pump

When I pull up to the pump, of course you have to come close to the pump, but you don’t have to kiss it. Yes, you have to gauge the hose length, room on the other side (for someone using the next pump over), and other such measures. But the key is, the more room you can have between you and the pump, the more room you have to move, if you have to move.

The thing is, the pump is a wall, your car is a wall. Now there are only two ways in or out (or worse, leaving your car door open like this gentleman did, and now you have 3 walls and only 1 escape route). In this situation, the attackers knew this, with one closing in from the front, and the other from the rear. The guy in front was the initiator, the distraction, and the guy in the rear was the heavy that did the dirty work. Yeah, it seems they had a plan and had experience (and success) in doing this before. They weren’t stupid.

Make sure to give yourself an escape. Don’t fence yourself in between your car and the pump. Yes, you will have to to some extent because you have to get in and out of the car, you have to work with the pump, but just keep it short. While pumping, flip up the little gizmo that keeps the pump going automatically, then walk out of the area. Use it as time to walk around your car and look at your car (a useful maintenance tip; maybe you’ll see something that needs fixing or that your tires need air), but don’t just focus on your car – use it as time to get a good look all around the area. So many people focus their eyes and attention on the pumping – don’t; focus on everything around you. When the pump clicks off, finish your work quickly and get back in the car – don’t linger and tend to things. You can’t avoid being in this “funnel”, so just keep the time minimal.

A Gun

No, I don’t think a gun would have helped the victim here. What would have helped would have been skills to avoid the confrontation in the first place. I always go back to SouthNarc’s (Shivworks) “Managing Unknown Contacts” (MUC) skills, because Craig’s stuff is some of the best for dealing with this sort of thing and avoiding trouble before it starts.

The way a gun might have helped is that often when someone chooses to carry a gun, they also choose to have a different mindset about themselves. They tend to be someone more aware of crime and the possibility they could be a victim. They tend to be people that pay more attention to what goes on around them. And if this situation went far enough south, well… realize that a muzzle pointed at you speaks a language criminals understand.

But on the subject of guns, I did note the fact this happened in California – a very restrictive state when it comes to guns, at least for law-abiding citizens. It’s quite obvious from the video of the armed-robbery that those who don’t care about the law don’t care about the law, including gun laws.

Laws should enable good people to live their lives. Alas, gun-control laws rarely work out to enable good people; they tend to only embolden and enable bad people.

What do you see?

When you watch the video, what did you see? What is something we can learn from this?

Please share in the comments.

KR Training – 2014-07-19 – H:BtB/SB Quick Hits

A fine day at KR Training. Due to that polar vortex, weather was abnormally wonderful: didn’t get higher than the mid-80′s, partially overcast, and tho it was very humid, you couldn’t ask for a better day. Classes on tap ere Beyond the Basics: Pistol and Skill Builder. These are solid intermediate-level classes that help to drive home the fundamentals. Look at any sport, any discipline, and the best in that area know that fundamentals are what everything is based upon. Mastery of fundamentals is key, and here, that’s ultimately about trigger control.

Or at least, that was the order of the day. Yes, trigger control was the biggest issue all day, tho by the end of the day there was marked improvement with very little trigger slapping going on.

Here’s some comments about what I saw.

Trigger Control

Slapping, yanking, jerking, whatever you want to call it… it’s when all your shots wind up low-left, or more generally, they go where you don’t want them.

It comes back to what we kept saying throughout class: slow down, press the trigger. Yes, the feel of the trigger gets heavier as you press, but you don’t need to smack it to then overcome that resistance – just keep pressing.

Work this in dry fire. Start out working slowly, getting the feel, reinforcing that feel. Focus on the front sight, don’t let it be disturbed by your trigger press. But remember that one drill we did? The “ball and dummy” drill? Remember how the first time we’d do it slowly, but later on we did it faster, where you’d press the trigger, round goes off, and as soon as the gun came out of recoil and you had the sight picture we’d have to press again? Work that too. Don’t always make it a slow, deliberate pause between presses, because ultimately you’re trying to get faster so you have to work faster. It will smooth out. Push yourself a little faster, a little faster, until you see things break down; stay there for a bit and keep working it.


A few people had issues with shots going all over the place. From what I could see, it’s a grip problem.

First, it’s about griping hard enough. Yes, it’s going to make you tired because you need to clamp down as hard as you can on the grip. You’re not used to that, your muscles will fatigue, and you will lighten up your grip to alleviate the discomfort. Don’t do this! Keep clamping down, because you need to build up that strength and endurance. Remember how we were saying just 10 minutes of dry fire every other day? Well, you should be able to work that clamp grip every time you dry practice, and you just watch! Give it two weeks of consistent work and you’ll see your grip improve.

Second, it’s about gripping properly. Remember to get your primary hand up high on the gun, with that cushioned part of your hand between your thumb and index finger smooshed up into the beavertail area. Remember to cant your support hand forward, get it high up on the gun, and clamp hard with this hand. Do this every time. Work to have consistency in your grip.

Third, consistency. Be sure that you grip the same way every time. That you are gripping hard enough every time and that that grip pressure remains as constant as you can make it. Try this. Hold the gun in a proper but very loose grip and line up the sights with your eyes. Now, don’t move anything else and just clamp down your grip on the gun. Did you notice the gun moved? The sights are now off and you do not have a proper sight picture? Try it a few times, and notice how not only things move, but they move differently each time. Often what happens is people start out with a loose grip, then they know the gun is about to go off so they suddenly clamp down their grip and you get what you saw above. That sudden clamping shifts the direction of the muzzle, a different way every time, and so you wind up with almost no consistency nor accuracy in your shots.

.380 ACP

A few yeas ago .380 became the new hotness. All these small guns, the growth of women and people recommending guns chambered in .380 to them. Trouble is, there are problems with .380.

First, the shame is that there are few guns that are of decent quality in that chambering. So many of the .380 guns are cheap and of questionable quality and reliability. Usually when we see a .380 in class, there are problems and failures with it. If this is the gun you’re betting your life on, you need to trust your equipment and know it will perform when called upon.

Second, it’s a marginal caliber. I don’t need to say much here, as Greg Ellifritz recently wrote a good article on this very topic.

A .380 is better than nothing, but I would encourage folks that choose a .380 to step back and examine why they chose the .380  and to see if there’s a better alternative that can satisfy your same reasons and requirements.

For the Ladies

The student body was majority female, and just about everyone stayed all day. I forget what chapter they were from, but most were from A Girl and A Gun, and it was great to have them out there.

What I wanted to mention here was the notion of “drop and offset” holsters. This is a holster where the belt loop is of course at the belt line, but then the holster itself is dropped down a bit and offset a bit from the belt, which helps to work with a woman’s body structure (hips). Take a look at the International from Comp-Tac. See that picture? See how the holster is dropped down and offset from the belt loop? That’s what we’re talking about.

Granted, this isn’t the best solution for every day carry, but for classes, for range work, for competing, it’s an option to look into.


Thank you all for coming out and choosing to spend your day with us. It was a pleasure to have you, and we look forward to seeing you again on the range.


2014-07-21 training log

Phase 3 starts, and it sure feels like it.

Based upon Paul Carter’s Strong-15 (LRB365)

Phase 3-3, Week 1-3

  • Squats – cycle goal: 325
    • BW x 10
    • BW x 10
    • bar x 5
    • bar x 5
    • 160 x 5
    • 190 x 4
    • 220 x 3
    • 245 x 2
    • 255 x 1
    • 270 x 1
    • 285 x 1
  • Pause Squats
    • 210 x 5
  • Deadlift
    • 180 x 5
    • 225 x 4
    • 265 x 3
    • 315 x 2
    • 355 x 1
    • 375 x 1
    • 400 x 1
  • Deadlift – Back off
    • 355 x 3

I felt good today. Been sleeping better, longer, and that obviously is helping.

Since this is phase 3, everything of course gets heavier and volume goes down.

The 285 went up almost well. Felt good, no problems out of the hole (tight tight tight! descent not too slow nor too fast), but I wobbled near the top. I am still dealing with some slight imbalance between the legs, with my left not always wanting to carry the load, either from the old ankle injury or from the more recent knee aggravation… but I’m trying to fight my right leg carrying more of the load so I shifted a bit and that caused some wobble. It may be that my left isn’t ready for this weight — we’ll see.

The 400 on the deads was a bit tough, but that should be expected. I mean, I’m using the same template for squats and deads on the same day as I would if they were on separate days… so the legs and everything has a pretty good beating before I get up there on deads. We’ll see how the next two weeks pan out.

Main thing this tells me: make sleep a priority.

Not the odds, but the stakes

Wil Lewis escaped poverty in Guatemala when he was adopted at age 7. Loving parents raised him in Wisconsin, where he found his two passions: photography and the woman who would become his wife.

He attended art school in Milwaukee and moved to Chicago two years ago. He was looking forward to starting a new job Monday, finally ending the rat race of freelance photography.

Lewis, 28, and his wife moved into a new Rogers Park apartment just two weeks ago. They were thinking about starting a family.

On Saturday, gunfire upended their plans. Lewis was standing in the 1300 block of West Devon Avenue about 3:20 p.m. when a gunman approached on foot and shot him in the back, Chicago Police said. He was pronounced dead less than 40 minutes later.

“He was looking to start a family. He was talking about having children,” said Warren Rader, a close friend and fellow photographer. “Everything was going right for him.”

Full story here. (h/t Mike Cox)

A young man, who overcame so much, his life was opening up and looking so incredible — so much ahead. And senselessly killed in what appears to be a gang battle; an innocent man caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Here’s the crazy thing:

Rader recalled a conversation he had with his friend in Milwaukee a year or two ago, before Lewis moved to Chicago.

“We were talking about conceal-carry gun licenses and how much nonsense it was and how unlikely it was that you’d ever get into a confrontation . . . He just thought it wasn’t something an everyday person would have to deal with,” Rader said.

It is true. The odds of getting into a confrontation aren’t high, especially if you live your life by a simple set of rules, e.g. don’t go to stupid places with stupid people and do stupid things, and be in bed by 10pm (h/t John Farnam). But even then, as Lewis’ tragic story shows, you can try to do everything right, and yet tragic things can still happen.

It’s important to realize…

It’s not about the odds.

It’s about the stakes.

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Writing about whatever interests me, and maybe you.


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