Certain words in the English vocabulary produce very strong mental pictures when they are used. Take for instance the word “Gunfight”. When we hear it, despite the story that may go along with it, we often imagine two or more people blazing away at each other, bullets whizzing through the air. It could be the opening scene to Gunsmoke, with Matt Dillon quick drawing on the outlaw or maybe Stallone as Rambo, man-handling an M-60 while it breathes fire and spits brass. The point being, the prominent thing we see in our minds when we hear that word are the GUNS. 

The reason for this could aptly be termed “Verbal Conditioning”. Notice the placement of the two words: “Gun” first and “Fight” second. Using the precedent principle, we could deduce that the GUN (the tool being used in the fight) is the primary focus, while the FIGHT is secondary, having less importance in the overall scheme of things and being much more ambiguous as to it’s meaning.

Let’s face it, we live in a very GUN AWARE culture. Due to Hollywood movies,”Shooter” Video Games and the over abundance of mass shootings by mentally deranged assholes, Guns have become part of the national consciousness. Looking back in context,  today a 10 year old, (in part due to the Call of Duty Video game Series) is much more likely to be able to recognize an AK-47 or a Glock pistol than they would have 30 years ago, when Atari “Pac-Man” or “Pitfall” was the height of entertainment for that age group. What is tragic to me about all of this is not that guns are popular with kids, or that the youth of America are more aware of them, but that guns are fundamentally misunderstood for what they are.

You see, Americans love to put the GUN on a pedestal. They love to show them off in red velvet display cases and hang them over their fireplace mantle as a badge of honor. They love to go to the firing range not really to practice, but to “show off” their beloved rifle or pistol, secretly hoping that the shooter on the line next to them will say a flattering remark or ask them a question about it, so they can recite their pre-rehearsed speech about their new “baby”. And I am sure all of you have the seen “that guy” during a Shooting class who wants to clean his gun after every drill or refuses to get down on the ground, fearing his “baby” might get dirty. You think I am making all this up? I bet I am hitting home with a lot of you guys right now, or at the very least describing a good friend of yours!

As responsible CO’s we have to be careful not to become more TOOL focused than FIGHT focused. The entire mentality of WINNING THE FIGHT, lies not in the tool itself. As Jeff Cooper famously said,  “Any GUN will do, if you will do”; or to say it another way, “Any TOOL will do, if you will do!” It lies in having the mindset of “I am going to survive this day, no matter what it takes.” 

That is the beauty of Combative Principles in my opinion. They are brutally simple and cut to chase in terms of winning the fight; no katas or complicated techniques to remember, just pure, un-adulterated violence of action until your enemy is no longer a threat to you. These principles apply across the board to any weapon you can pick up, starting with empty hands, stick, knife and ending with a firearm. Combative Principles lie at the heart of the saying “One Mind, any Weapon.”

Being prepared AT ALL TIMES to go from zero to 100mph in terms of defending oneself lies at the heart of what the CO drills and rehearses for everyday. We have to be prepared to FIGHT. No matter where we may find ourselves and no matter what we may or may not have in our hands.

In closing, CO’s need to stop the gun (and knife) worship and devote more time to FIGHTING in all your training!! If we use the above video as a thermostat to measure the REALITY of the street, then we have to come to the conclusion that our attacker is gonna be close, despite our best efforts to have the textbook “Reactionary Gap”. We need to develop a tool box of empty hand strikes (or knife strikes) in order to gain distance and room to draw our firearm. We need to be aware of “gun grabs” and actively practice weapon retention. We need to be able to (as Southnarc puts it) to fight “from the clinch” or to put it plainly, to fight from that “OH SHIT!!!” moment when things have already went south.

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!

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