Choosing to get involved – Do you know the full story?

Following up from yesterday’s article, Choosing to Get Involved, here’s a case illustrating why choosing to get involved in someone else’s problem can be problematic.

The gun incident happened last March. [Daniel Ray] Brown and his mother were eating near Hanes Mall in Winston-Salem when he saw a white man, screaming for help, being chased by two black men.

Brown… would later tell authorities that he thought the pursuers were drug dealers, or possibly loan sharks, and that the white man was in trouble.


According to Winston-Salem police, Brown “attempted to stop the struggle by pointing a handgun.”

One of the black men, Fredrick Morgan, testified that Brown pointed his gun at the group and demanded that the scuffling trio show ID.

When the three men wouldn’t listen, Brown fired a bullet into the ground a few feet in front of Morgan.

Daniel Ray Brown sees someone being chased by two people and screaming for help. Obviously the person being chased is the victim and the two other people are assailants bent on causing harm to the person they are chasing.


That’s obvious to anyone viewing this.


It wasn’t until after Brown had made a new hole in the asphalt that he learned the truth. The white man was mentally ill and had fled from two care workers. The chase was their attempt to corral him near Hanes Mall.

Full article (h/t Hank G. Shepherd)

Getting involved in someone else’s problem resulted in Brown being arrested and convicted of assault by pointing a gun and discharging a firearm within city limits. He also lost his carry permit.

And someone could have lost their life, because a gun is deadly force. Warning shots are not sound (and generally not legal) tactics – no matter what former Vice-President Joe Biden says; and they are still considered use of deadly force.

This is one reason it’s difficult to get involved in someone else’s situation. You often will not know what you are seeing unfold in front of you. What you are seeing is likely a mere sliver of the full story, and your decisions may well put you on the wrong side of the facts. Your involvement may make the situation better, or it may make it worse. No matter what the real story is, whatever you then choose to you, you have to live with the consequences of your actions. Mr. Brown now has a lifetime to have to live with his.

I understand a desire to “do something” and to help people. We generally want to right wrongs and see justice served. But in doing so, we have to tread carefully because once we choose to get involved, we’re in it and the consequences of our involvement are ours to live with. I’m not saying to not get involved – we each have to draw our lines as to what we will and won’t do, where we will and won’t get involved. What I am saying is it’s important to understand what you see may not be what you think, so consider that when you do make your decisions.


Choosing to get involved

Greg Ellifritz posted an article, “Lessons Learned From My Good Samaritan Attempt“. The article is written by a man who witnessed a woman being beaten on the side of the road. He chose to intervene in the situation. While things generally worked out ok (the attacker was arrested and convicted), the whole situation didn’t turn out like so many people’s heroic fantasies.

All my previous firearms training revolved around identifying an imminent threat, shooting to stop the threat if necessary, and then hopefully moving on with my life. It was all a pretty simple equation in my mind. However, the reality of my incident that day after Christmas was far different. It was not a simple equation. It was quite complex and has taken over two years to resolve.

That’s the first thing to note: it’s taken over two years to resolve.

But that’s just the beginning.

He notes the media coverage, and because “The Internet is Forever”, how his story basically has never and likely will never go away. It will always affect his life.

He notes the disruption to his sleep and health. In doing so, one particular comment stood out to me:

Ripple effects of the incident are everywhere, and I never considered that aspect of it in my prior training, because everything focused on surviving the encounter, not the aftermath. Keep in mind, I didn’t even have to fire a shot! I can’t imagine how these problems would manifest themselves if I had been forced to take a human life.

Emphasis added.

Everyone likes to focus on the pew-pew-pew. It’s easy to focus on, it’s something that people can easily understand a need or desire for, and it’s fun. To focus on things like dealing with the aftermath of a self-defense incident is not fun. It’s uncomfortable to face, to think about, to plan for. Often people don’t want to plan for it because denial is easier. Consider: if you’re getting/carrying a gun because you think you might need it, then realize there may come a day when in fact you will. The incident itself will last seconds, but the aftermath will last the rest of your life. Are you set up to deal with that?

Being set up to deal with that can be the legal aspects. One reason I’m thankful I’m a member of the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network – they were there for me when I needed them. If I didn’t have them, I don’t know how things would have gone but I suspect not as well.

Being set up to deal with the aftermath also involves the mental and emotional realities. Being able to live with yourself, being able to live with how people will perceive you for the rest of your life. How your family will be perceived and how people may interact with them. A book like Alexis Artwohl and Loren Christensen’s Deadly Force Encounters: What Cops Need To Know To Mentally And Physically Prepare For And Survive A Gunfight,while oriented towards law-enforcement, contains an immense amount of useful information for anyone that may find themselves in such a situation. And yes, ideally it’s a book to read before you need it.

And being set up to deal with the aftermath means being honest with yourself and the harsh realities that may come from self-defense. Have you determined where your line is? In reading this article, I was left with the impression the author didn’t have a well-defined line, but does now. Where we draw our lines will differ from person to person, and likely you will and should revise where and how you draw your line over the course of your life (e.g. you may draw it differently when you’re single vs. when you’re married with children). The important part is to figure this out well in advance of having to put it into play.

There’s much to learn from Aaron’s story. Be wise and learn from his experience.

Fight on 6th street – what can we learn

So it seems about a week ago there was a fight between 2 women in Downtown Austin on the infamous 6th street.

Of course, that’s not really news. But there is video of this particular incident, and from it we can learn a few things (i.e.: learn from the stupidity of others)

(h/t KLBJ-FM)

First, it’s 6th Street. There’s a high (no pun intended) chance that all involved are drunk or at least somehow inebriated/intoxicated. Always a recipe for success.

Also because it’s 6th street, it violates Farnam’s Law for personal safety: don’t go to stupid places, don’t hang around stupid people, don’t do stupid things (and be in bed by 10PM).

The video starts out with confrontation. Hard to tell what’s going on, but there’s ego investment, someone likely felt disrespected, and the only given “out” was to get stupid.

Instead of listening to friends and walking away, the ego investment continues, the disrespect continues, and punches are thrown.

As is typical when women fight, hair is grabbed.

Within seconds, the fight goes to the ground. Tho in this case, I’d say the fight went to the ground more because everyone’s drunk and has trouble with balance.

Some people try to break it up. Hard to tell if they are friends of the initial folks or just bystanders trying to break it up. Either way, smaller fights break out.

Eventually Austin Police show up and start pepper spraying. And boy, they empty their canisters, dumping a LOT of pepper spray.

And it doesn’t seem to stop anything.

You can tell there’s a little irritation on one of the people, but for the most part everything continues as if there was no pepper spray. Interesting to note is that none of the people involved seemed particularly determined.

So what can we learn?

  • There’s much wisdom in Farnam’s law.
  • Your ego and emotions can get you into trouble.
  • If you happen to get someone’s ego and emotions riled up, give them a way to save face, give them a way to exit (don’t corner the cat).
  • Getting involved in someone else’s business is a tough decision. Just note that someone else’s problem isn’t necessarily your problem, but if you get involved in their problem, for sure now you’re in a problem. Be certain you’re willing to accept the costs.
  • Pepper spray is a useful tool, but it’s not magical, it provides no guarantees.
  • Fights do go to the ground. You don’t always get to choose or control this. But if it happens, you have to deal with it. 
  • There’s really no reason to go to 6th Street.
  • There’s much wisdom in Farnam’s law (yes, it’s worth repeating).


AAR: Immediate Action Combatives, February 2017

Cecil Burch (left) at KR Training, demonstrating a technique for standing up.

Cecil Burch (left) at KR Training, demonstrating a technique for standing up.

If you step back and think about it for a moment, so much self-defense training starts from an ideal position. It doesn’t really matter the context, “ideal” is where a lot of training starts from. Gun classes are on the square range, sunny weather, solid ground, and we know what’s going to happen and what we need to do next. A lot of martial arts work starts with two people agreeing to square off in the air-conditioned dojo.

What’s worse? People work to deny they could find themselves starting from a shitty situation. That term, “situation awareness” and how it’s treated like this almighty god-ability that one must possess and emit constantly, always being in “condition yellow” with mah “head on a swivel”. That THEY never fail in their situational awareness, they are always aware of everything, and if anyone happens to show less than 110% ninja-fied situational awareness, they are looked down upon as a tactical failure and need to turn in their Operator’s Beard and Tatoos™. I’m sorry, but I sleep – I go into condition white. I have a job that often requires intense focus – so I’m condition white. I’m human and sometimes life distracts me – and I’m in condition white. I’m sure you’re better than me and this never happens to you, but then I’m thankful there are people like Cecil Burch who humbly acknowledge these things happen to us mere mortals and provide training to help us cope if we find ourselves starting from a shitty situation. If you are willing to acknowledge you are one who could find yourself in a bad situation, where your self-defense incident could possibly start from you in a deficit, and you want to know how you can work out of that hole, read on.

Cecil Burch

First, who is Cecil Burch?

You can read his full resumé on his Immediate Action Combatives website. But briefly:

  • Lifetime martial artist, including 23 years in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
  • Multiple gold, silver, and bronze medals in the BJJ Pan-Ams and American Nationals
  • Boxer
  • Firearms
  • A member of the Shivworks Collective

So… someone that might know a thing or two. Someone that may well be worth training with in this area. 🙂

But, what IS this area?

Immediate Action Combatives

The seminar work Cecil provides aims to contend with the “worst case scenario”: those times when you were caught off guard, or that old bastard Murphy laid down the law. Things like “the knockout game”, or maybe your self-defense incident started ideal, but then you slipped on some gravel and now you’re on the ground about to get boots to the head. What Cecil is aiming to do is provide you with a way to work to survive and overcome those situations so you can get back to a point where you can fight. As was constantly brought up over the weekend: Don’t lose — because if you aren’t losing, you still have a chance of winning; but if you lose, you can’t win.

There are actually two, 1-day seminars.

Immediate Action Pugilism was the first full-day seminar; this covered working from a standing position. Immediate Action Jiu-Jitsu was the second full-day seminar; this covered working from the ground. The way the seminars were presented and structured, you certainly could take only one day or the other. While both seminars had common threads, they were distinct and did not depend upon the other. However I believe you will get the most out of it if you can take both seminars, either back-to-back, or eventually (as time and money permits).

Regardless of which seminar, they both have the same goal: to provide attendees who have limited training time and resources with solid survival and escape fundamentals geared toward the increasingly violent weapon based environments they may live, work and/or travel within. 

Think about that.

Limited time. I suspect most of us fall into that category.

Limited resources. I suspect most of us also fall into that category.

Increasingly violent and weapons based environments. You watch the news.

And for sure, the techniques are solid and survival-based. This is not going to make you into the next UFC star. You won’t become a great boxer, you won’t become a black-belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). But you will come out with a solid set of skills that will allow you to contend with “the suck”, survive, and improve your position such that you can then deploy whatever your preferred skillset might be (martial arts, knives, guns, running away, whatever). This coursework aims to address the realities almost one else in any area of the “self-defense industry” addresses.

I admit the classes weren’t quite what I expected, but I’m quite happy I took them as while they maybe weren’t what I wanted,  for sure they were what I needed.

My Experience

Immediate Action Jiu-Jitsu class at KR Training, Feb. 2017. I'm on far left, ground.

Immediate Action Jiu-Jitsu class at KR Training, Feb. 2017. I’m on far left, ground.

The classes were held February 18 (Pugilism) and 19 (Jiu-Jitsu) 2017 at my home-range of KR Training. This is the first time Cecil has come to our facility, and honestly I’m disappointed the classes were not sold out. Mainly because I think skills like this are so important for people to possess. But I’m still glad Cecil came down, and honestly on a selfish note, the smaller class was a benefit to me because there was certainly more personal time and attention given, and the class was able to move at a faster pace. That said, I’d rather see sold-out classes in the future – so be sure you attend next time he’s here. 🙂

What was my motivation for taking this class?

In early 2016, my 2017 training goals were to further my gun skills. I’ve made USPSA “B” class, and I want to get to “A” class (still do). And some other things along those lines. But then, in Fall 2017 I took a new job that has potential for me to travel – and those travels could take me to places where I can’t carry a gun, or knives, or pepper spray, or anything other than my hands and my wits. I knew I needed to change my training goals. It’s been many years since I did any serious empty-hand martial arts work, and the moment I saw Karl was bringing in Cecil Burch I signed up for the class. I knew of Cecil and knew training with him should not be missed.

That’s the notable thing: I wanted to take these classes because I wanted an opportunity to train with Cecil Burch. It didn’t really matter what he was teaching, I wanted to learn from him. Oh sure, I read the class description and it seemed in line with my goals; if the class was about needlepoint, I wouldn’t have signed up (even if it was Cecil). But I admit what I expected from the classes compared to what I got from the classes was different.

For example, I expected the standing class to be about “fighting from a standing position”. So I expected we’d cover more about strikes, punching, elbows, some footwork, defense – basically a balance of offense and defense. But as well – and I can only articulate it this way post-mortem – that it would all start from that ideal self-defense situation. I did not expect the class would be about starting from the worst-case scenario, and how to survive and dig out of that hole.

But I’ll tell you straight up, I’m deeply appreciative of what the class did provide me with. I’d actually say it’s more important, because most of us likely get enough of the other stuff, and not enough of what Cecil provides.

Overview of the days

Classes ran from about 9 AM to about 5 PM. We worked the standing seminar outside because the weather was nice and working outside gave us a lot of room to work. We did the ground seminar inside on mats because of rain.

Class size was modest, and the students ran a decent cross-section. We had young, old, and middle-aged. We had some people quite fit, and others not so much. All male (ladies, don’t be afraid – it’d be arguable that you’d benefit even more from such training, especially the ground seminar). Some had a depth of martial arts experience, others were n00bs. Cecil’s curriculum allows you to come at whatever level and fitness you might be, and work at the level you are able. Oh sure, you will be pushed – if you aren’t, how will you get better? But you are always in control and able to keep things at a manageable pace.

Cecil would start each seminar with a small lecture to explain where he was coming from, to frame the work. Then we would pair up and begin to work. He took an incremental approach to the material. Introduce a small concept, work it for a few reps. Then another concept, work it for a few reps. Then another, and a few reps. Then go back and work again, this time incorporating all that we’ve learned so far. Then let’s do it all again, but this time we’ll up the pressure a little bit. Then take a break. Then lather, rinse, repeat. It wasn’t that robotic, but it was methodical and incremental. I appreciated this because it made the material easier to digest, plus by the end of the day you got a LOT of reps on the initial material, which winds up being much of the core/foundations. That is, if there’s anything worth remembering, it’s what you get at the beginning and that gets (re)iterated throughout.

Cecil is more metal than you. 🤘

Cecil is more metal than you. 🤘

Cecil is an excellent teacher. It’s easy to find good teachers, it’s easy to find people that know material, but it’s rare to find someone that’s both a good teacher and knows  the material AND that can convey the material well. It’s evident he’s put a lot of thought, study, and refinement into the material and presentation of these seminars. It’s difficult to find a simple set of skills that people can pick up on quickly and then retain with minimal practice (vs. someone that studies a martial art exclusively, going to the dojo 3+ times a week). Then to be able to convey it in a manner where you can pick up on the concept, retain it, apply it, build upon it – yet accept that there will be a lot of information by the nature of the program so you have to keep everything as tight and controlled as possible to avoid information overload? That’s tough! I think Cecil did a fine job, and it’s a tough job too. For sure by the end of the day your knowledge cup is at the brim and just starting to overflow. I felt Cecil was able to read the class/students well and know when to move forward and when to pull back.

Plus, he’s a really nice guy, humble, friendly, focused. 🙂

One thing I appreciated about Cecil? Minimal “war stories”. There are some instructors that love to tell stories. While it’s always entertaining, it often causes class to drag and sometimes you wonder if the instructor is here to teach or brag/reminisce. I think it was Greg Hamilton from Insights Training that made a sound point: that stories are good and really should only be used if they contribute to the curriculum and will help the students learn and retain the information. Cecil told only a few stories (within formal class time), and when he did those stories were relevant and worked well to reinforce the lesson. I appreciated that; it goes back to my comment about Cecil’s focus.

Another aside about Cecil. One of the students/helpers in class was a gentleman who is an excellent shooter. After Saturday’s class Cecil asked me if they could go out and shoot for a bit, because he said that even 15 minutes of instruction from this guy would be a boon. This spoke volumes to me. That despite being a top instructor himself, he was still seeking ways to continue to improve himself. He may be the teacher, but he’s still a student. I dig people like that.

Back to class…

We would work and build, work and build, work and build. Everyone was able to work at their pace, and all students were good training partners helping each other to learn and not pushing just to push hard. By the end of the day, we were going at a pretty decent clip and pressure-level, putting it all together. Yes, pressure-testing is important.

I liked something Cecil did to add “pressure”. Let’s say you’re playing the “good guy” and your partner is “the bad guy”. Your partner is to ask you open-ended questions, or at least questions that make you think. For example, “do you like ice cream?” isn’t a good question. But something like “what are your 3 least favorite flavors of ice cream?” is a good one. Something that makes you have to think a little bit, to put a little cognitive load and distraction upon you. Then your partner should see the moment the wheels start turning and attack, and now you have to defend. Is this really all that much pressure? Of course not. But you’d be amazed at how it adds more than enough load and really messes with your ability to perform. I thought it was a fantastic teaching aid.

While the stand-up class didn’t have a “graduation” exercise, the ground class did. Basically you and your partner, middle of the mat, in front of everyone. Your partner could use any approach to attack you (ground work, punches, weapons), and it was your job to survive, defend, escape, and get at least to a neutral position. It brought everything together and was a great way to cap off the weekend.

My Experience

First, I’ll be straight with you: training like this isn’t always the most fun. I found myself a little anxious, a little nervous, a little intimidated. I have an ego, just like you, and I don’t relish getting my ass handed to me all weekend long. But that’s part of why I do things like this. I have weaknesses, and they will never become strengths unless I work on them. It’s not always fun to address your weaknesses, let alone admit you have them, but it’s important to be honest with yourself and work to improve. It’s important to put the ego in the backseat and make yourself better. Think about it: when do you want to address your weaknesses? In a seminar with a kind and knowledgable instructor like Cecil Burch, where you will make many mistakes but you will learn and be able to not repeat those mistakes? Or when you get jumped in a parking lot, and that gang member shows you no quarter for all the mistakes you make?

I’d rather get my ass handed to me and my ego destroyed in an environment where I can learn and become better, stronger.


I think my wife summed it up pretty well. You see, I came home pretty bruised and banged up, but that stands to reason for something like this. So her reaction?

Looks like Cecil Burch took you to school then wrote a lifetime of lesson plans all over you. Come to think of it, I don’t know that you’ve ever come home looking quite so educated

I LOL’d. 🙂

And that’s compared to my prior martial arts days, and even a round with Southnarc.

The thing that I fear in writing that is it’s going to scare people off from taking the class.  I’m mixed on that.

Part of me is fine with it, because it’s a bit of a filter so that the people who will come to the class will take the class seriously, know what to expect, willing to work hard.

But part of me wants to put it this way: yes, it’s hard. Yes it was physical (tho in part, that’s because I was willing to work at a very physical level; again, Cecil structures the seminars to allow you to work at your level). But I look at it this way: do you really think that someone intent on beating your head in is going to be an easy situation? Use the pressure today to learn how to work under pressure, so your first time isn’t when your life is on the line, y’know? It allows you to learn how to work under pressure, so you can have grace under pressure. It serves as inoculation.

Some of the course material wasn’t new to me because of my prior study with Southnarc. But it was like Craig presents you a few things but then has to move along because there’s so much more he has to teach. Whereas it felt like Cecil’s classes took those few things and really expanded upon them: an in-depth exploration and study of a few concepts. I came out understanding them better, and having more skill in applying them. One student said that Cecil’s classes are a good pairing with ECQC, basically if you have Cecil’s skills you’ll likely do better in ECQC. That’s what we call a clue.

I did find the amount of information good and well-presented by Cecil, but for sure by the end of each day I was at my limit. In fact, around 2-3 PM on Sunday I was totally brain fried. Cecil would demonstrate something new, then I’d get down in position to try it and totally have no idea what I was supposed to do: I couldn’t brain any more. This is my own fault. The reduced calorie diet was not conducive to the weekend. My diet works for my general level of activity, but the 2 days of more intensive physical work was of course a much greater level of activity. I was hoping to keep at my normal diet level, but alas I could tell on Sunday it wasn’t working. I had a couple foot cramps, and then my abdominal muscles started to cramp right after I did my turn in the graduation exercise (and continued to cramp on and off until I went to bed). I gassed out a couple times Sunday afternoon. So this is pretty simple: nourish yourself well, and well in advance of class. If you’re on a restricted calorie diet, unless there’s medical reasons (and if there are, you should take that into consideration in terms of participating in the classes), then I’d say break the diet a couple of days beforehand, get your glycogen stores topped off, eat well throughout the classes (fast carbs, water, electrolytes). You can resume the diet after class.

As for my performance. You win some, you learn some. Heck, I learned many. 🙂 Cecil said I did a good job in class, so I’ll leave it at that.

I will say that the class reinforced some things about “being big and strong”. Namely, it’s a pretty nice advantage. I’m in good shape. My resting heart rate is in the low 50’s. And while I don’t consider myself all that strong, I’m certainly stronger than many. And I’m heavy – which one fellow student explicitly said was an interesting situation for him because with me and my weight fully on his chest restricting his breathing, that was tough and a bit of a panic for him. He said he was thankful for it tho, because he was able to learn about that now, in the safe confines of schooling, than letting the first time be “for reals”. Nevertheless, it’s evident being bigger/strong(er) remains an advantage. There were guys in class who were way more technically sound, and what helped me work against them was being bigger and stronger. Of course, they were able to whup me pretty good in the end, because they had greater skill. There’s much to consider here.

For sure, I still have a ways to go. If I have another opportunity to take these classes, I certainly will. The repetition and reinforcement will be good, and I’m certain I’ll get more out of it the second time around.

One bit of feedback for Cecil: be a little clearer on equipment requirements. Clothing was listed as “loose, comfortable, but durable”. I’d like that to be expanded to address coverings. For example, on both days I wore my typical gym clothing of a no-sleeve shirt and gym shorts. Very comfortable, loose, durable. While it worked well for the stand-up work (apart from me being stupid and forgetting sunscreen), it was terrible for the ground work. I lost a bunch of skin off my knees, and they became pretty raw and tender. Knee pads might have helped, but I suspect they would have just rode down my legs. Just having longer pants probably would have been a help. I’m not sure how to phrase it, especially since I’m sure it varies based upon facility amenities. But that’s the one thing that I wish I had done differently as it would have saved me a little pain.

But hey, it’s just a little pain. Shake it off.


It was a long and tiring weekend, but I learned a great deal. I am thankful that Cecil teaches these classes. I am thankful he came down to my home turf to teach them. I am thankful for the solid group of students in class, who were all there to learn and help each other learn. I am thankful for the cooperative weather, and for Snow’s BBQ lunch. 🙂 I am thankful for my generally good health and fitness, so it enables me to learn and participate at the level I desire. And I’m thankful to have gotten to know Cecil. He’s a great guy, and I truly look forward to seeing him again. I hope he’s able to come back again, and I hope to see you there.

Why aren’t you training with Cecil Burch?

This coming weekend (Feb. 18-19, 2017), KR Training is hosting Cecil Burch for 2 1-day courses:

Cecil Burch will offer two 1-day classes in his Immediate Action Ju-Jitsu program. Day 1 will teach skills relevant to standing up conflicts. Day 2 will teach skills relevant to ground fighting. Students can attend either or both days. Completion of Day 1 is not required to attend Day 2.

The objective is to provide attendees who have limited training time and resources with solid ground survival and escape fundamentals geared toward the increasingly violent weapon based environments they may live, work and/or travel within. And all techniques/concepts are from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and are combat proven over the past 80 years by thousands of practitioners, including the U.S. Army.

The Immediate Action Jiu-Jitsu course is designed to give the layman a realistic and functional set of concepts, techniques, methodologies, training drills and experiences that will prepare them for a worst case “ground-fight” scenario. All techniques and concepts are high percentile applications which span a wide spectrum of confrontations. Training consists of presentation, drilling and Force-On-Force evolutions providing attendees with immediate feedback regarding the efficacy of the skills learned.

If you don’t know who Cecil Burch is, click through to read his lengthy resumé.

Due to some life changes back in Fall 2016, I made it one of my 2017 goals to get more training in “other” areas. It’s been some time since I did any formal empty-hand study, and when I saw Cecil on the guest instructor list for 2017 I couldn’t pass up the chance to train with him.

Why aren’t you signed up for the class?

If it’s because you’re out of shape, do you think your need for these skills is going to wait until you are in shape?

Karl’s also offering some sign-up deals on the class. And note that it’s 2 1-day classes: you can come for one or the other.

Sign up now!

And see you this weekend.

Good fitness is self-defense

If you read my blog you may have noticed that I don’t write as much as I used to, but I sure lift weights at the gym a lot. 🙂

I lift because it’s the form of exercise I enjoy the most. Why do I exercise? Lots of reasons, but my main motivator is I don’t want to become decrepit.

Look around you. Look at how people struggle to do basic things like walking up and down stairs, getting in and out of a chair, or picking something up off the ground. There’s no need to start talking about things like running when people struggle to do even basic life functions.

Ever watch videos of self-defense events? They are rapid, dynamic, and to some extent or other involve physicality. Sometimes that physicality could be a brawl, or sometimes it’s just a need to run like a bat out of hell in the other direction.

If you struggle to get out of a chair, if you get winded walking up stairs (or you know you will so you avoid it and always take the elevator), if you can’t bend over to tie your shoes (or you say “fuck it” and always wear flip-flops) – how do you think you’re going to fare when the flag flies?

You don’t even have to be old or fat. Does your job involve you sitting in an office chair crumpled down in front of a computer all day? Cliché as it is, but there is truth to “use it or lose it”, and desk jockeys (and I’m one of them) are losing it.

I see it with students in classes. Shoot the gun, reload and drop magazine on the ground, then it’s a struggle to bend down to pick up the magazine off the ground. And yes, maybe your self-defense incident may be solvable purely by your gun and your wits, but when do you get to choose what your self-defense incident will look like?

This isn’t to say you have to bench press 300 lb., be able to run a 5 minute mile, and be as sexy as Dwayne Johnson. It just means you need to be able to function.

Speaking from personal experience, another useful reason for having some level of fitness is it improves your ability to deal with the physiological effects of the event and the aftermath. Given all I experienced both during and afterwards, I firmly believe a high-level of physical fitness helped me manage the intense stress. Heck, I lost 6 lbs. that day! My event in and of itself was not physical (wasn’t some brawl), but rare in one’s life is such a degree of stress and pressure, and being able to have a physically strong heart and body was unquestionably a benefit.

Or we can just look at it in a simpler way.

Your chances of being killed in a terrorist attack? Supposedly 1 in 20,000,000

Your chances of dying from a firearm? Supposedly 1 in 25,000

Your chances of dying in a car accident? Supposedly 1 in 100

Your chances from heart disease? Supposedly 1 in 400.

Of having a heart attack? 1 in 4.

Regardless of the specific numbers (data varies by source), the pattern remains: you have a far greater chance of death from poor health choices than violent crime.

If self-defense is all about protecting and preserving your life, then self-defense starts with taking care of yourself.

This doesn’t mean you need to stop reading this article, radically change your diet, join CrossFit, and do things that you won’t stick with 2 weeks from now. No, small things can make a big difference.

Season 4 Episode 183 of Ballistic Radio had Larry Lindenman as the guest. Larry spoke quite well about the role of fitness in self-defense, and provides an excellent overview of the topic as well as some good suggestions on how to get started. I was listening to it while doing my cardio at the gym the other morning, and it served as the impetus for this article. Thank you Larry (and John Johnston).

Take care of yourself first, so you’ll be around to take care of others.


My part in the ACLDN track record – and what you can learn from it

Two years ago I had a life-changing experience – one I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.

I’ve maintained wanting something positive to come from the event; to find ways to make good, to make things better. One way has been sharing the event and answering any questions people may have about the event, my experiences, and living in the aftermath.

A few weeks ago, Gila Hayes of the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network (ACLDN) contacted me (Disclosure: I am obviously a member of ACLDN, have been, and will continue to be). She was wanting to ask me and my lawyer, Gene Anthes, some questions about Gene’s services to me as a Network member, and explain why and what he did on my behalf and why it was important. As well, Gila wanted to gain some insights into my experiences from a post-incident legal focus, since that’s where ACLDN works. The goal of the article being to educate network members (or whomever wishes to read the newsletter, as the newsletter is freely available to the public) about things that happen post-incident.

Gila and I spoke at length, and the result of our talk is posted in the January 2017 issue of the ACLDN Newsletter, available here.

The article discusses the Network’s track record over the past 8 years. I learned a great deal from the article.

I will also say that reading the article was tough. When Gila sent me a draft for review, it really hit me hard. There were all my short-comings, laid bare for the world to see. Having already been subject to armchair quarterbacks in the court of ignorant public opinion, part of me didn’t want to go through all that judgment again. But that’s actually a teaching point in and of itself! We are human – we won’t do things perfectly, especially during a novel and high-pressure, high-stakes situation. This is why it’s so important to train to a high level, so when things go south and everything degrades, you still remain at a high-enough level to do what needs to be done.

What I hope you can take from the article is understanding that self-defense incidents are quick and relatively simple. But the aftermath is slow,  lengthy, and complex. I cannot imagine what it would have been like for me and my family if I didn’t have ACLDN and a lawyer like Gene Anthes.

You don’t get to choose when bad things will happen to you. But when bad things do happen, the more prepared you are the better you’ll fare both during and after the event. It’s good to prepare for events, but it’s also important to prepare for the aftermath of those events. You don’t have to join ACLDN – they are certainly my choice – just do your homework, and prepare. As I’ve said: the event lasts seconds, the aftermath is the rest of your life.

Lessons from observing 5000 gunfights

John Correia of Active Self Protection posted the following on Facebook.

I’ve watched about 5,000 gunfights at this point, and the patterns that emerge are pretty clear. Some thoughts you might want to consider that I don’t think that the training community really wants to hear:

1. Most gunfights aren’t entangled gunfights. Empty-handed skills are important, but very rare once the gun comes out. They’re necessary for LE more than CCW, by a long shot. For CCW, empty-handed skills are critical for the 80% of assaults that don’t rise to the level of deadly force response. So go to your martial arts training.

2. Reloads are almost vanishingly insignificant factors in gunfights. I have seen precisely 2 reloads in a real gunfight that weren’t on-duty LEO. And neither of those affected the outcome of the fight. I have seen about 7 or 8 where a higher capacity firearm or the presence of a reload might have affected the outcome. So 0.2% of what I have witnessed. Don’t spend much valuable class time teaching emergency and retention reloads…at least until your highest level classes where all the fundamentals are flawless. I like Tom Givens’ focus on the PROACTIVE reload once the fight is over. That has value in my opinion.

3. He who puts the first shot into meaty bits on the other guy, wins. Not 100%, but darn near, at least partially because of the FIBS Factor. Therefore, training a fast and reliable draw and first shot in the meaty bits is most important, in my opinion. It is THE critical skill to winning the gunfight. The best cover is fire superiority.

4. Follow-up shots are necessary. Seldom do gunfights END with that first shot, so keep at him until he decides he is done fighting. This is where multiple target acquisition is important, because it simulates a moving target to hit. (unless you have a fancy moving target that can move erratically, in which case you are high speed!)

5. People have a crazy tendency to use the gun one-handed, mostly because they have stuff in their support hand. Training people to drop what’s in their hands and get two hands on the gun is a necessary skill for #3 and 4.

6. You simply WILL NOT stand still while someone wants to kill you. Unless you’re counter-ambushing, when the gun comes out you will move. So training students to move with purpose while #3 and 4 are going on is also a critical skill. They’re going to do it, so teach them to use it.

7. Chasing deadly threats is another bad habit that I see all the time. Teach your students to shoot and scoot. Move AWAY from the threat.

8. Concealment ain’t cover, but it works identically in 99.9% of cases. People won’t shoot what they can’t see, so teach your students to get to concealment, and to shoot through it if their threat is behind it.

9. People love cover so much they give it a hug. Reliably. Like all the time. Teaching distance from cover/concealment is an important skill and one that is necessary.

10. Malfunctions happen. They just do. But unless you’re carrying a crap gun, they’re rare. In all my videos I have never seen someone clear a malfunction that needed a tap to the baseplate to get the gun back working again or whose mag fell out when the gun went click…rack and reassess is necessary though. In a couple of instances, a strip, rack, reload would have helped.

Just some random thoughts…I hope we have met your jimmy rustling needs for today.

John’s pretty spot-on here.

Point 5 I think is an interesting one. Something worth conditioning yourself for. But realize it’s not as simple as “drop what’s in your hands” (tho that is a good place to start). You have to consider what’s in your hands (e.g. a sack of groceries vs. an infant).

Corollary to that, if you have someone in your life that holds on to your hand, it’s worth conditioning them to drop your hand. It’s natural when frightened to want to grab, cling, and squeeze. It’s possible a small child holding your hand will continue to (how will you contend with this?). But your spouse ought to learn to drop your hand and move away.

Point 7 is another that may be worth having more training and condintioning. That is, to condition people to move away (perhaps to concealment/cover – Point 8). So many times you see people pursuing and closing in – it’s very natural (monkey-brain), so building in a conditioned response to get away is important.

Good stuff, John. Thank you for sharing.



Do Concealed Carry Permits Have Any Impact on Crime?

Charles D. Phillips, Texas A&M University School of Public Health, published a paper in 2015 entitled “Concealed Handgun Licensing and Crime in Four States.” He and his research team concluded that concealed handgun licensing had no beneficial effect on crime, and that the main driving force behind more people obtaining a license was the presence of federally licensed firearms dealers. However, there are a number of errors, assumptions, and miscalculations in his research that justify revisiting the question of the relationship between concealed carry laws and crime.

This is a paper written and published by Howard Nemerov. You can obtain the paper here.

The TSRA Sportsman recently published Howard’s article, but unfortunately the printing had numerous errors. I asked Howard about it and he gave me the above link to the full paper.

Sometimes what you avoid matters more

An acquaintance is planning a trip to Austin. She has never been to Austin before, but remembered I lived in Austin, so she asked me for input as to places to stay, things to do, restaurants to check out.

She’s just starting to make her plans, so I gave her some general suggestions. However there are so many options it was tough to provide her with specifics; she’s just starting to plan so she’s not quite sure yet what she wants to do. As we continued to speak, the conversation started to gravitate to what NOT to do, where NOT to go.

For example, the (in)famous 6th Street is OK, but after 10 PM I’d avoid it because drunk young people isn’t a recipe for quiet and well-reasoned behavior. Same for the University of Texas area. Then a couple other places, like I-35 and East Riverside, the I-35/US-183/Rundberg area as worth avoiding.

This is where tools like SpotCrime and specifically in Austin, krimelabb, are useful. You can find the hotspots worth avoiding.

No where is 100% safe, but small steps to manage your safety and security add up. Following Farnam’s Law – avoiding stupid people, avoiding stupid places, avoiding doing stupid things (with stupid people, in stupid places), and generally being in bed by 10 PM – does a lot of good, and is truly a first step towards effective self-defense.