Your Less-Lethal Weapon Matters More Than You Think!

Why is that important? Because techniques are subject to failure, but principles aren't. If you apply proven principles consistently, you're far less likely to make a mistake or fail.

by Kelly McCann

Our first principle is “Go Armed." Some incorrectly interpret this as advice to carry a firearm. While that certainly may be a good choice for some, it may be impossible or inappropriate for others. Going armed means having in your possession a legally concealable device — even if it's hidden in plain sight — that will materially aid you in a self-defense situation.

The range of suitable devices is enormous: bludgeons, point-impact tools, edged weapons, aerosols, electronic stun guns, hand-held lights and so on. Choosing wisely is important for several reasons, but first let's talk about what the most important attribute of any weapon is.

The most important attribute is not its usefulness in combat; it's the weapon's usefulness as a trigger. If you suddenly find yourself thinking about, touching, looking at or drawing your weapon, that should trigger you to leave whatever situation made you feel a weapon was necessary. To linger in the area or prolong your exposure to the threat only increases the probability of having to use your weapon.


Years ago when I was training new intelligence-agency personnel, I was happy to see a fairly recent student return from deployment to a particularly nasty region of the world that had lots of ambush attacks, lots of kidnappings and lots of mayhem. Anxious to tell me about his first “near miss," he explained that he and a teammate were out developing a walking SDR (surveillance detection route) for an upcoming local-asset meeting. As they walked along, they found themselves in a sketchy area.

“We normally wouldn't have gone that deep into it, but we were jocked up (armed), so we continued through the area," the student told me.

He was surprised when I rebuked him and sharply asked, “So you didn't learn anything here then?" My point was, if they wouldn't have walked through that particular spot unarmed, why did they do it armed?

The point of good security is to not put yourself in bad situations unnecessarily. Every single time you're involved in a violent situation, the stakes are high and you're subject to the ungovernable elements of risk and chance. Really good, talented and armed people get killed all the time. Often, it's by people who are less well-armed and far less skilled. Don't drink the Kool-Aid.

The second most important thing in choosing a “bridge" weapon — or a lethal weapon, for that matter — is effectiveness. It's obvious why you'd want it to be effective. You must remember, though, that every weapon has shortcomings with respect to intimidation factor, immediate effectiveness, ease of use, safety to the user, etc. As I've written before, a lot of these devices fall into the gimmick category and won't do a damn thing to stop or dissuade a committed attacker.

With any weapon, it's crucial to consider the cost of failure. If you draw and attempt to use an ineffective fighting tool, you may have just lost the opportunity to use a completely effective unarmed alternative. Even worse, you may continue to try to use the ineffective weapon, thus becoming married to the idea of using it instead of abandoning it altogether and then either escaping or fighting unarmed.

This is often the case with weapons of opportunity. Imagine the disappointment, delayed reaction and utter disbelief you would experience if you had in your hand something you thought “for sure" was going to stop an active shooter, and when you smashed it over his head, it disintegrated on contact and imparted no kinetic energy. DOH! In that case, you'd have been far better off using a simple and brutal unarmed technique.

Bruce Lee once said that when a fight is brewing, you should never anticipate what the threat may do. This philosophy flew in the face of age-old thinking that held that anticipation was absolutely necessary. Lee's point was that the cost of incorrect anticipation is it puts you twice as far behind. His thought was to just be intently in the moment and deal with it. Thinking a weapon will be more effective than it is can have the same effect of positioning you behind the eight ball.

Whatever weapon you choose to carry, don't neglect to do this: When you train, make sure you train for failure. And make sure you can seamlessly switch from being armed to being unarmed. It should be as natural as starting off unarmed and then having to arm yourself. Only in this way will you be prepared for anything.

About the author: Kelly McCann is the author of Combatives for Street Survival: Hard-Core Countermeasures for High-Risk Situations. Order it here. For information about his online combatives course, click here and here.

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