Using self-defense weapons such as a gun to defend yourself, in most circumstances, isn’t all that difficult. Shooting a gun to punch holes in paper is pretty straightforward: Align the sights, superimpose them over the target and press the trigger smoothly. If the equipment is set up properly, it’s hard to miss. I teach people to start with three simple actions: extend, touch, press. That’s shorthand for fully extending your arms to move the gun outward parallel to your line of sight, then touching the trigger and smoothly pressing it to the rear. That sequence tends to get the job done as well as can be expected in the dynamic and chaotic circumstances during a lethal attack. Substantiation comes from videos of actual handgun shootings involving everyone from police officers to untrained store clerks.

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Analysts of real-life scenarios involving self-defense weapons see those actions consistently — with the variable being how smoothly the trigger is pressed — almost without regard for prior training or practice in firearms as part of one’s regimen of self-defense moves. With that in mind, put yourself in a wrestling match with someone bigger, faster and stronger than you. Give him a knife. Take away your ability to use hand-eye coordination for weapon alignment. Take away your ability to maintain your position using a solid stance. Take away your ability to smoothly perform a rehearsed set of self-defense moves without interference. Those are the circumstances that extreme close-quarters shooting addresses. Plan of Attack Using self-defense weapons during a real-life scenario is complicated. Even a firearm at extreme close quarters — two arms’ reach is the boundary — is more than just simple shooting. You need to simultaneously control the attacker to keep him from hurting you, prevent him from interfering with your use of the firearm, execute the complex motor skills needed to draw your weapon from its holster and orient it toward the threat. Then you need to fire as many rounds as it takes to stop the attack while continuing to control him. Fortunately, there are some principles and self-defense moves that will better prepare you to deal with a worst-case scenario like this. They’ve been refined through the study of countless incidents and pressure-tested in full-speed, force-on-force training with simulation firearms and impact-reduction suits. And, yes, they’ve been used successfully in real-life encounters to end lethal fights. Of course, self-defense moves using self-defense weapons as described below require a modicum of control over the situation before they can be executed. Historically, “contact shooting” techniques have been taught in isolation, presuming either that you have some control over the situation and your body when you reach for your gun or that it will be easy to establish that control with a simple shove or strike. In practice, this hasn’t been the case. In fact, we don’t even use the phrase “contact shooting” to discuss the skill set I’m talking about here. What I’m actually discussing is “shooting while in contact.” This simple reframing of the problem instantly renders most of the shove-and-shoot methods practically useless as self-defense moves. If you’re actually in contact with someone who truly needs to be shot, it’s unlikely any of those techniques that presume easy control will be available to you. Before examining these self-defense moves I do recommend, I’ll look at the four principles on which they’re grounded. How to Defend Yourself Against an Attacker — Principle 1: You Will Be Using Your Self-Defense Weapons in Reaction to a Surprise Attack. At some level, this lethal encounter must have caught you off-guard. If not, you’d have avoided it or at least gotten your firearm into your hand while you could still use it in the traditional manner (at extension) to defend yourself. Acknowledging that you won’t be ready and that you may not have access to your preferred self-defense moves is vital to counter-ambush training. Acknowledging that you won’t be in control when you recognize that you need one of your self-defense weapons will enable you to start training by concentrating on your first task: establishing control. How to Defend Yourself Against an Attacker — Principle 2: You Will Need to Control the Other Person’s Attack. Legally, using self-defense weapons in the course of your self-defense moves requires that a potentially lethal attack be in progress. Perhaps he’s using a knife or a club, or maybe there’s just an overwhelming amount of unarmed force. Regardless, you cannot ignore the attack for the amount of time it’ll take you to draw and fire your weapon. Even if you’re sufficiently tough, or lucky, to weather the storm of violence long enough to fire your shots and end the assault, you could suffer serious injuries in the interim. Firing shots into your attacker and then dying from lethal stab wounds is not a win. Keep in mind: Controlling the attack might reduce the threat so you don’t need to fire your gun at all. How to Defend Yourself Against an Attacker — Principle 3: You Will Need to Draw Your Gun From the Holster and Orient It Toward the Threat Without Interference. In the worst-case scenario, using the firearm that’s in your holster may be the only chance you have to survive. You’ll lose that chance to use self-defense weapons such as a gun if the threat is able to foul your draw, prevent you from orienting the weapon toward him, render it useless or take it away. Establishing specific control early on in the execution of self-defense moves — after which you stabilize the situation so you can get your gun into position to use it — is crucial. How to Defend Yourself Against an Attacker — Principle 4: You Will Probably Want the Base of the Grip of Your Firearm and Your Shooting-Hand Thumb to Be Against Your Torso When You Pull the Trigger. While there are many positions the gun can be in when you defend yourself, the aforementioned one will reduce the chances of you shooting yourself and having you’re a semi-automatic firearm weapon rendered unable to function. Using this technique also allows you to use your body to index the threat because other aiming options will be unavailable. In case you’re unfamiliar with the operation of self-defense weapons such as the semi-automatic pistol: The mechanics rely on the frame of the gun (the grip area) being held stable while the slide (the top) moves freely under the pressure of recoil. This movement resets the internal mechanisms, ejects the empty brass and prepares the next round to be fired. If you try to fire a semi-automatic from an unsupported platform or with the slide against your body, you might get one shot off, but there’s a significant chance the gun will then jam and be rendered inoperable. Similarly, if you press the slide against your body or that of your attacker, you might push it “out of battery” and prevent even the first shot from being fired. Finally, if you press a hard metal object into the torso of any human being, he’ll reflexively move back and push it away. That can result in a missed opportunity to fire a round into him or in the attacker getting his hands on your gun (or any other of your self-defense weapons, for that matter) and wrestling for control. By maintaining the pistol against your body, you reduce the chance that he’ll even know you have the gun until you’ve fired. About theAuthor: Rob Pincus is an internationally known firearms trainer. He has produced more than 40 training DVDs and offers both end-user and instructor-development courses. For more information, send e-mail to, or visit or On Thursday, April 5, in Part 2 of this article, Rob Pincus explains three steps involved in defending yourself in close-quarters combat. He also demonstrates two specific techniques for using your gun against an armed attacker at close range.
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Do you want to maximize your self defense skills? Learn the game of combat chess and most importantly the queen of all moves.

Allow me to intercept those who would object to the title of this article. I'm not claiming that there's a secret move, shortcut or hack that will give you the edge in any fight. Even if there was an ultimate weapon or strategy, you likely would avoid it because you
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Looking to buy some weights to gain some strength?

Looking at Dumbbell, Kettlebells or Weighted bar? How about an all in one that won't just save you some good amount of money but also space? Look no further, we bring you the GRIPBELL!

Let's face it, when we do want to work on some strength building, we don't want to go around shopping for 20 different weight equipment things. That would just not want us to even do any sort of strength training. But what if we only needed a few, a few that can do the things we want without having 20 things lay around? That's where the GRIPBELL comes in. Let me clarify with you first, these are not some heavy duty, muscle exploding weights, they are for building the level of strength we as martial artists want without going crazy and insane in bulk sizing!

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Many different types of "blocks" are taught in most martial arts school. We are taught high blocks, low blocks, middle blocks, knife hand blocks, etc. Some schools will also teach how to use the legs to block an attack, as well.

The purpose of this writing is to possibly open some minds to the possibilities of going outside the box and considering alternatives to the basics.

Blocking is taught as a way of protecting oneself from harm. Truly, we don't "block" anything, as a non-martial artist would think of it. What we call "blocking" is more of a redirection of an opponent's attack, or even a counterstrike against the opponent's attacking limb.

To block something would mean to put something, like your arm, leg or other body part directly in front of the attack. That would certainly hurt and possibly cause some damage. The goal should be to move the attack out of the way in order to prevent injury and provide a way to fight back. For example, many schools teach blocks as a limb moving toward the strike such as a circular high block.

The movement required for a block might have other uses, if you keep an open mind. The blocking techniques can also be used as attack techniques. For example, your "low block" may be used as a striking technique against the outer thigh of the attacker. Your high block might be used as a strike to the jaw. The set up for a block can be used as a deflection, as well as the actual block.

Doing a block or a series of blocks will most likely not end an attack. A block needs to be followed by a counterattack. While the block is usually taught as a separate technique in order to learn it correctly, it should also be used in combination with a counter.

The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. Intensive books can and have be written about basic techniques. With this writing, I am hoping to create interest in exploring the additional possibilities for what we have been taught and what we teach others.

About Grand Master Stevens

GM Stevens has been training in taekwondo for 47 years under the tutelage of the late legendary Grand Master Richard Chun. He holds an 8th degree black belt and is certified in the USA and in Korea. Grand Master Stevens is a member of the Board of Directors of the prestigious Richard Chun TaeKwonDo World Headquarters organization. He has been very active in his community and has been a volunteer with the Glen Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps for over 11 years. He is a certified member of C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team).

Gary Stevens Taekwondo is located at 175 Rock Road in Glen Rock, New Jersey.

For more information: call (201) 670-7263, email: or go to

Having partners at or above your skill level is important for improving in your martial arts training. At some point, however, you will probably find yourself with a shortage of skilled partners, especially if you are an instructor.

This can happen for any number of reasons: students can move away, change their work schedules, start a family, etc., and just like that, you find that you're the highest-ranked student, or sole instructor, in your gym or dojo. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, if you take advantage of it, even working exclusively with lower-ranking classmates or students can improve your skills.

I used to host a twice-a-week training session at my dojo where I invited mostly black belts from other schools (as well as a few of my advanced students) to come and run drills. It was a blast. These were tough two- to three-hour sessions where I got to work with fighters of all different sizes, speeds, and technique preferences. My sparring improved dramatically over the next few months, and I don't think I've ever been in better shape. But unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. And as the old saying goes, "You gotta work with what ya got." So, make it hard on yourself.

I like to set handicaps when fighting my students. Specifically, I focus on forcing myself to work on improving my weak areas. Is you right leg weaker than the left? Then only kick with the right leg when sparring your students. Not much of an inside fighter? Don't kick at all. Training with partners of lesser skill not only helps you improve your weak points but gives them an opportunity to improve as well by working on strategy. It's also great for building their confidence. It can also be a low-cost opportunity to test new techniques and combinations, which benefits you as well.

In grappling, just like sparring, there is little benefit to wrapping lower ranking classmates into pretzels over and over, for them or you. Instead, let your partner put you in a bad situation. Let them get the mount; help them sink in that choke or armbar. If you start standing, such as in judo, allow your partner to get the superior grip before attempting a throw. This way you will get comfortable working out of a weaker position and your less-experienced partner can perfect their technique (and get experience using multiple techniques, if you get out of their first one).

You might think that giving advantages like these to students who may be far beneath your skill level is much of a challenge. Trust me, you'll reconsider that sentiment when you wind up sparring a 6'5" novice with zero control over his strength after deciding to only use your weak leg, or have a 250-pound green belt lying across your diaphragm trying to get an armlock after you let them get the pin. Remember, this is exactly what you signed up for: a challenge.

If you find yourself at the top of the heap without partners who are sufficiently challenging, there is no need to despair. Use it as a low-stress opportunity to improve your weaknesses and develop avenues to help your less experienced classmates and students to grow. You may even be surprised. One day they might present more of a challenge than you ever imagined!
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