Saturday, February 17, 2007

Do I Feel Lucky?


Are you learning or know how to disarm an attacker with a weapon? The featured weapon of choice in most martial-art schools is the receiver-friendly rubber knife. Most novice trainees have been shown at least a couple of basic knife disarming techniques. To be honest, some of these moves are predicated on the notion that the knife wielder has no clue how to properly handle their weapon. The way of the knife is an art. Elite military personnel take their knife fighting skills to a level that would render most McDojo self-defense techniques utterly useless. The saying "never bring a knife to a gunfight" should be a reminder that everything is relative. How would an unarmed martial artist fare against a gunslinger? Would you actually consider trying to take out somebody brandishing a Glock 22 or a .357 Magnum? The following is in part an excerpt taken from The Secret of Inner Strength: My Story, by Chuck Norris with Joe Hyams:

David Glickman, a prominent defense attorney from years ago, asked Chuck Norris to help out with a murder trial he was involved with. The story is that the defendant arrived home from work early one day to find his wife in bed with another man. The husband immediately retrieved a gun from a dresser drawer. Jumping out of bed, the lover charged him. The dutiful husband, who knew that this man was a black belt in karate, shot and killed him. Glickman's plan of defense was to show that a karate expert's skill should be considered lethal. Therefore, the husband acted in self-defense. Norris was called to the stand as a professional witness on behalf of the defense. He was then cross-examined by the assistant district attorney.

DA: Do you expect the court to believe that a black belt in karate would have a chance against a man with a gun?

NORRIS: It's possible. It would depend on the distance.

DA: How about ten feet?


NORRIS: If the gun was not already cocked and aimed, I believe it is possible.


At this point, the DA asked Norris to step down from the stand and wait in front of the jury. The DA produced an unloaded gun and showed it to the jury. Standing next to Norris, he then paced off ten feet, as if reenacting a duel.

DA: I'd like you to stop me before I can cock and fire the gun.

Acting on instructions from the DA, the bailiff shouted "Now!" Like a flash of lightning, Norris sped across the courtroom and placed his foot on the DA's chest. Norris thoughtfully pulled the full power of the kick to avoid hurting the prosecutor.

DA: My thumb slipped. Let's do it again.

This is our tax dollars at work. Norris, standing relaxed with his hands at his side, waited for the command. When the bailiff gave the word, Norris once again closed the distance at light speed, gently planting his foot on the chest of the DA before the gun was cocked. As if that wasn't enough, Norris, with the help of an assistant, proceeded to break some boards to demonstrate the power of karate kicks. The defendant was acquitted.

What's interesting is that in certain cultures the husband's actions would have been seen as totally justified. Naturally it could be argued that had the husband not reached for a gun, the adulterous black belt would have had no reason to jump him. If anyone was acting in self-defense, it was the karate guy. If your martial arts instructor is showing you how to disarm an attacker with a gun, tell her/him about this story. Remember, only Superman is faster than a speeding bullet. And of course, Chuck Norris.

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15 Comments:

Blogger Charles James said...

Hi, John

Nice story. I usually teach my students one defensive posture when it comes to guns and knives and it has nothing to do with a kick from about ten feet away.

Just goes to show the ignorance of juror's as well as others when it comes to karate.

If I were to teach how to defend against a knife I would first want to teach how to use one effectively.

As to a gun, pray, remain calm, pray, do what they want, pray, and if they are stupid enough to get really really close to you then maybe, maybe take action.

In the end take action only if you know that your life is in eminent danger then it depends on the situation.

Then pray.

10:47 AM  
Blogger MrX said...

Nice story! Where do you get those anyway?

Like Charles said, every self-defense technique I have learned regarding guns are to use only if you think that you are going to die. Do what they want you to do but in the event that you think the attacker is going to pull the trigger anyway, wait for your opening and take it (none of them respond to the ten feet gap in the story though).

As for knives, it is true that most techniques are for opponents that have little experience with a knife. Your basic "I don't usually do this but I need money for crack" kind of guy. Can't see why a Navy Seal would attack me with a knife...

In Cerio's Kenpo, the key word is surprise. Do not show your skills up until the last moment. And, in that moment, better to have some tools than none...

Marc

8:40 AM  
Blogger [Mat] said...

Gun changed a lot of things in wars.

They signified the death of the warrior cast. gone the sword, gone the old ways. It's much more efficient. And easier on the soul too. Or so they say.

I imagine killing someone with your hands and pulling the trigger make things look simpler. Ugh. It de-humanize the gesture. It's easy.

Indeed, good luck.

:)
Never underestimate the power of the "Chuck Norris roundhouse kick"
:)

8:57 AM  
Blogger PerpetualBeginner said...

The instruction we recieved for guns was talk, talk, talk. If you get more than ten/fifteen feet away in bad light (about twice that in good light), run like hell (not in a straight line). We were shown some disarms, but they were all intended for when the attacker was practically touching you with the gun.

For a knife, we were put in an enclosed area with our instructor (who was experienced with knife), and told to try not to get cut for five minutes. Disarm or not was our call. Nobody made it - the least "injured" person (rubber knife) had lost a theoretical thumb. It gave us a lot more respect for what a knife really meant.

10:01 AM  
Anonymous blackbeltmama said...

That is an interesting story. It's hard to believe that a jury would consider a naked horizontal man a threat to a man standing with a gun. Neither his wife, nor the man were threatening harm to him when he pulled the gun. But stranger things have happened.

We've worked on some self defense against knives and guns. If you're 10 feet away and have room to run, that seems to be your best bet. Fleeing on a zig-zag is probably better than charging a gun-wielding person.

Our instructors always tell us that in a knife fight and even against someone with a gun, if you fight it is likely that you might get shot or cut. Hopefully though, thanks to the techniques you've done, you won't be that badly hurt because you will have deflected the brunt of the knife or gun away from your vital areas.

10:33 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

He's a story for you. I worked with the guy who is at the center of the story, and who told it to me. It was corroborated by several co workers who worked with him at the time.

I worked with a guy whose left arm looked like it had been through a meat grinder. A few inches down his forearm from his elbow, the arm was ringed with a terrible looking scar, and the muscles of his forearm were much smaller from that point toward his hand. He hand only limited use of his hand.

He had once been a 5th dan in Tang Soo Do, and had even competed in Korea as part of an American team in some TSD World Championship tournament years ago.

What happened was that a jealous husband came after him with a chainsaw. The guy I worked with was the wrong guy; it was a friend of his who should have been the target.

Anyway, with his arm up trying to fend off the chainsaw, and accepting the damage; he put his foot into the face of the guy with the chainsaw, collapsing his face.

They both went to the hospital. The guy I knew had his arm reattached, and the other guy had his face put back together. The guy I knew got out of the hospital first.

11:24 AM  
Blogger John Vesia said...

Mr. James:
As to a gun, pray, remain calm, pray, do what they want, pray, and if they are stupid enough to get really really close to you then maybe, maybe take action.

That sounds like good, sane advice.
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Mr.X:
In Cerio's Kenpo, the key word is surprise. Do not show your skills up until the last moment.

Strategy in the martial arts is a little like keeping a "poker face". Don't let your adversary know you have an ace up your sleeve. Actually, I'd be curious to know what Nick Cerio's take on a gun (or knife) disarm would have been. He had a highly combative approach to the martial arts.
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Mat:
Guns changed a lot of things in wars.They signified the death of the warrior cast. gone the sword, gone the old ways. It's much more efficient. And easier on the soul too. Or so they say.

The samurai were the only warrior class in history to first adopt firearms, and then reject them because they were considered "graceless" to use. The sword was considered the soul of the classical warrior. The use of guns has removed the spirit or soul from warriorship.
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Perpetual Beginner:
For a knife, we were put in an enclosed area with our instructor (who was experienced with knife), and told to try not to get cut for five minutes.

5 minutes. Hmm...that's a pretty long time, especially with a knife expert.

run like hell...

More good advice! Live to fight another day.
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Black Belt Mama:
Neither his wife, nor the man were threatening harm to him when he pulled the gun.

I'm really surprised Norris uses this story for exactly that reason. Basically he helped a murderer get an acquittal.

We've worked on some self defense against knives and guns.

I've been shown disarming techniques for knives, bats, pipes, boxcutters - but not guns. The consensus here seems to be that the best thing to do (regarding guns) is just get the hell out of there, if at all possible.
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Rick:
There's a story you won't find in Reader's Digest! Chainsaws and spurned husbands don't mix. And a case of mistaken identity to boot. Just lovely.

12:27 AM  
Anonymous blackbeltmama said...

The self defense we worked on for guns was if someone was right behind you as in a parking lot scenario with a gun against your back, trying to force you into a car. It involved swinging the elbows to move the trajectory and some counter moves to get away safely.

A woman at my local grocery store was attacked like that by two men, and I wanted to know what the heck to do in that situation. Unless someone is a sniper, I'd rather run too. But if the other option is being taken somewhere else, I'll fight. I've learned to never be taken to a second location because those who are rarely live to tell about it.

2:08 PM  
Blogger Colin Wee said...

Unless someone is a sniper, I'd rather run too.

From my self defence research, at 10 feet, the chances of a person shooting you in that situation is 3 out of 5. When the heat is on, that drops to 1-2 out of 5. These statistics (while I can't corroborate them now) were collated from police officers. Getting shot is one thing, hitting a vital organ is another ... whilst running, this is further reduced. So the running option is something that should be considered strongly.

Your chances of Disarming the gun and destroying the opponent need to be accessed. A realistic practitioner needs to weight his (or her) options.

Colin

8:08 PM  
Blogger PerpetualBeginner said...

Five minutes with a guy with a knife is a very long time! Like I said, nobody escaped without a theoretical maiming, most ended up "dead". Not even the black belts fared very well - in fact they were most of the deaders because they would try for the disarm, while the rest of us just concentrated on staying the hell out of the way. I think it was an intentional lesson on the merits of escape vs. overambitious attack.

11:57 PM  
Blogger John Vesia said...

Black Belt Mama:
I've learned to never be taken to a second location because those who are rarely live to tell about it.

Judging from some of those horrible stories we all read and hear about, that sounds accurate. If a victim sees that as a reality, the attempt at a gun disarm no longer seems so far fetched.
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Colin:
Interesting stats. What's amazing (unless they've changed things) is that in Britain, the police don't carry firearms of any kind. As far as I know, the British police methods are otherwise effective.

Your chances of Disarming the gun and destroying the opponent need to be accessed. A realistic practitioner needs to weight his (or her) options.

That's an understatement. I'd just like to add that the best time to weigh one's options would be in the dojo!
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Perpetual Beginner:
In my school, we used to run mock knife fights like it was a point match. Full points for stabs, half points for slashes, etc. We were all theoretical gonners sooner or later! I lost count of how many rubber knives we busted that way.

Believe it or not, some schools (I think in the Philippines) use real knives in their drills! Thanks, I'll stick with the fake ones (pun intended).

10:39 AM  
Blogger Miss Chris said...

What a great story. All we ever used was that rubber knife too. And the only move we learned was if the attacker was doing an overhead knife attack. When would you do that? Seems to me they's be going for the chest area.

3:40 PM  
Blogger John Vesia said...

Miss Chris:
That's the ol' "psycho" stab. I'm surprised that's the only move they showed you. It's still a good one to know.

1:11 AM  
Anonymous KFG said...

I did not know that about the samurai and guns. I'm not sure that any killing involves grace, but at the same time, I think that guns remove some of the responsibility of killing, making it easier, perhaps. And an instructor once told us that anytime you come up against a knife, even if you disarm the person, you are likely to be cut. It sounds like everyone agrees on that. Does that mean you are also likely to be shot? I agree - against a gun, the best chance you have would be only to make your move if it looks like they are going to pull the trigger anyway.

4:48 AM  
Blogger John Vesia said...

KFG:
...against a gun, the best chance you have would be only to make your move if it looks like they are going to pull the trigger anyway.

Right. And that's about it. Besides taking a bullet, there's really nothing left.

...guns remove some of the responsibility of killing, making it easier

Guns do make the taking of a life impersonal and easy. It requires no skill, spirit, or conscience to pull a trigger for the wrong reason.

Good to hear from you again, KFG.

11:49 PM  

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