Problems with Disarming an Attacker

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

There are those why have accused me of being an expert on the various issues I write about. While the title is flattering, I prefer being known as a scholar. The basic difference is that an expert is someone who knows a lot about something, while a scholar is someone who is constantly trying to learn more about it. I haven’t reached the point where I don’t think that I need to learn more and to be honest with you, I hope I never do. I like learning.

That’s why I recently spent some time trying to learn about disarming attackers. Like everyone else, I went to the favorite online educational resource, YouTube and watched a number of true experts demonstrate how to disarm an armed attacker, hopefully without getting yourself killed in the process.

There were a couple of important factors that I noticed, which are key to making such a move work:

The Training Factor

I hope I never have to use any such method, as I am firmly convinced that watching a few videos isn’t going to make an expert out of me. Without exception, the trainers in the videos I watched were highly skilled men, all of whom obviously had practiced their moves thousands of times over, committing them to muscle memory.

But they weren’t just experts in disarming armed attackers, they were also martial arts experts of one sort or another. So the training they did, in learning how to disarm armed attackers, was built upon a very firm foundation of physical skill. These methods were nothing more than an extension of those other skills.

To try and learn how to disarm others, without this foundation would mean that one’s ability to disarm that attacker would be diminished proportionately. In other words, even after practicing the required moves thousands of times, I wouldn’t be able to disarm an attacker anywhere near as well as they can.

Herein lies the first problem with disarming an armed attacker; unless you have the right foundation of skills, your ability will be limited.

The Timing Factor

Little was actually said about timing in the videos I watched, but from other material I have read, it is clear that timing is just as important in disarming an armed attacker, as it is in drawing your gun from concealment to confront them.

Generally speaking, you want two things here, which work together to create the right timing. The first of these is the element of surprise. When a criminal first points a gun at you, they are keyed up, ready to pull the trigger. But as time passes, it is natural for them to begin to relax, especially if they don’t see you as a threat. If your response is calm and you can make yourself look like you’re not a threat, that will help cause them to relax.

The second part of this is position. In every demonstration of disarming another person, the distance between the attacker and the defender was critical, regardless of whether they were face to face or the attacker came up behind the defender. It might take time to get into such a position, requiring patience and the ability to manipulate the situation, ever so slightly, in order to get close enough to the attacker, without spooking them or making them nervous.

Between these two, it’s clear that anyone who is going to try and disarm an armed attacker has got to keep their cool. While the actual movement has to be committed to muscle memory, so that it can be done without thought, the “go” signal to the muscles requires thinking to the extreme.

Maybe Another Way

Personally, I don’t think this is something that’s going to become a featured part of my skill set. I really don’t see myself ever effectively taking a bad guy’s gun or knife away from him, unless I shoot them or cut them first. I don’t have the foundational skills to build this skill upon and I don’t have the time or practice partner to do thousands of drills to effectively commit this to muscle memory.

That’s not to say that it’s not a valuable skill, but rather that I think it’s only a valuable skill in the hands of the right people. I don’t see myself as one of them. Rather, I depend on other skills to help me out in such a situation; specifically my skills with the weapons that I carry.

Is it possible for me to find myself in a situation where I could need to disarm an attacker? Yes, it is. But I hope I can avoid such a situation by a combination of practicing good situational awareness, along with my skills with weapons (including improvised ones). Between these, I hope to be able to confront that attacker in a more direct manner, before they have me at gunpoint.

Then again, if they do manage to get me at gunpoint, I would say that my ability to draw, move and fire are such that my chances are just about as good doing that, than trying to disarm them.

I guess it’s a good thing I carry every day. And just like I say to you all the time, I make sure to keep my powder dry and my survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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