Brazilian Gun Grapple Analysis

I shared this video on my Facebook page, but I wanted to give it some more attention. I feel like there are layers to this onion that are worth peeling. This short clip is a powerful example of several concepts that we try to convey in the extreme close quarters range and fighting in general. I’ll address it non-contextually, as if we don’t know who the good or bad guy is, since there are lessons on both sides in both cases.

***Graphic Content, Gun Fight, DeATH***

The Monkey Dance

You need to know who you are with your gun on, to paraphrase William Aprill. When good guys put the gun on, we give up the right to get angry in traffic, posture and chest bump someone who we disagree with, yell and scream and poke chests, and generally be an asshole. We strive for avoidance, deterrence, and deescalation. Even if there was no gun on scene before, once we arrive there’s a gun that could be used by anyone around.  Swallow your pride, apologize even if you’re right, walk away, and you’ve won. RedShirt probably isn’t a good guy, and didn’t take the advice.

Avoid the chest thumping monkey dance.

A gun as a talisman/intimidation tool

This being Brazil, there are strict rules on gun possession and carrying outside the home isn’t really allowed for good guys. As a result, the common feeling in Brazil is that carrying guns is something bad guys do. As a result, there is a big stigma on firearms in general. It’s safe to say that RedShirt is a bad guy who regularly uses his pistol as a conversation starter and negotiation tool. He shows the pistol, you do the thing he wants, and everyone can go home. As a result, he didn’t bother handling the gun like he might have to use it, and paid dearly for it.

Luckily, the bad guys in the US tend to feel the same way. It’s merely a tool of convenience to get what they want. We can use this to our advantage.

If we’re the one with the gun, we have to understand the space management and pitfalls of drawing a gun within arms reach.

Decisive action and aggression can make up for lack of skill

BlueShirt’s disarm was sloppy, possibly accidental, but his action was decisive. As soon as he was aware of RedShirt’s gun, he averted the muzzle with his left hand and began landing sloppy punches with his right. RedShirt, realizing he made a bad timing decision, starts to turn away (bad idea) and blades himself to BlueShirt. With a classic (if accidental) boxing  outside position on Redshirt, BlueShirt was able to perform a sloppy trip while holding onto the gun. Redshirt lost control of his gun, and BlueShirt pressed the fight.

There was no technical skill involved here. Since Redshirt wasn’t really ready for a fight, the simple act of immediate retaliation completely overwhelmed his ability to fight back. We can use this to our advantage. I believe this is why it is so common for the average person to win their fight when they simply decide to fight back. I personally don’t want to rely on facing an unskilled opponent, so I continue to improve myself in this area.

Retention gun handling

We’ve covered this before (Here). If you train with a high and tight thumb-pectoral index shooting position built into your drawstroke, or at least get repetitions getting to this position, you’ll be able to avoid the problem that RedShirt had. Floating the gun and over-extension are common in untrained people who are doing this for the first time.

I would argue that the immediate action for RedShirt once the gun was out and BlueShirt had a hand on, was to aggressively draw the elbow back into a thumb-pectoral index, drop his base, and square his hips. None of those things are intuitive when a weapon is in play. We tend to get weapon fixated and think we should try to get the most distance between the weapon and opponent, when recomposing a strong structure and base is priority.

Craig Douglas showing his Thumb-Pectoral Index Photo: Tenicor FB page

Emotional control at the point of victory

While we might be inclined to understand how BlueShirt would mag-dump into RedShirt’s face out of rage, we have to strive for better emotional control. I would say the first several shots could be explained away to a jury. But the coup de grâce mag dump takes it too far in the eyes of the law, to my basic understanding. People have been locked up in the US for similar things. It would be hard to explain 7 head shots on a downed opponent to a group of your peers. We have to be training to stop shooting so we don’t fall victim to this trap.

Fight and use deadly force until you perceive the fight has left your opponents. Then pump the brakes.

Experience in Violence

It is apparent to observers that BlueShirt is experienced in violence.  From his immediate forward drive when he sees the gun, to this ruthless face shooting, to his calm demeanor immediately following. He has done this before.

So, short of getting into gunfights, how can we gain experience and not become completely overwhelmed if we ever find ourselves here? Training and Practice. Learning to manage emotion by inoculating ourselves to the stress of a fight. Familiarity and study of these videos, Force-On-Force training, Shooting Competition, Grappling, and boxing. The formula is simple. You just have to Do The Work.

Put yourself in deep holes in training that you have to dig yourself out of. That way, when it counts, you’ll have the best chance possible.

Thanks,

Mark

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The Special Application 9mm Carbine for Home Defense – Part 1

If you read my posts on the Ruger 10/22 (part 1, part 2) that I set up for home defense, this post will contain echoes and similar logic to that series. That particular .22 now lives at my parent’s house as their home defense rifle. Since we had a gun-void, I sought to fill it.

The Mission:

Find a carbine that my entire family could confidently use for self defense in the home, be willing to train with despite being recoil/muzzle blast-sensitive shooters, and keep at a reasonable cost. The ultimate goal is to build shooters with sufficient skill to make high pressure shots with no-shoots downrange on low probability targets. The only way to get there is if shooting isn’t a chore or abusive to the senses.

The Resource Problem:

Ammo costs and availability are a factor. We have a limited income, so a more affordable caliber makes sense for us. In my experience, less expensive caliber doesn’t mean spending less annually on ammunition, it means buying more ammo for the same price. More ammo means more practice, which means more proficiency.

We also don’t have $1200 for an AR-15 pattern 9mm carbine. We have a cost ceiling that we need to stay under. I have a pile of Glock pistol magazines that largely go unused since I’ve switched to Double Action Pistols. Using Glock magazines would be a nice bonus to save on support gear.

We have a time limitation. I need to maximize the training time, and blunt the learning curve by picking a platform that lends itself to quick proficiency. We rarely get time together, period. So finding time to go to the range is exceedingly rare. I have to strive for efficiency. Rifles are easier to shoot well. Four points of contact with a rifle beats two points of contact with a pistol. A red dot sight makes the learning curve easier for getting hits.

The shooter consideration problem:

For the shooters in my family, I need to be very considerate of recoil, and muzzle blast. My wife is quickly turned off to shooting a 5.56 rifle at indoor ranges due to the chest thumping concussion and flash that an AR-15 gives. She’s good for maybe 30 shots before she’s done. If concentration and focus is gone after one magazine, then competency will be impossible given the rarity of our range trips.

My wife isn’t a shooter. She wants to understand and be able to run all of our guns, but she doesn’t love shooting like I do. I have to be considerate of her time and pick something that she might enjoy more than an AR or shotgun.

I’d wager that many of you might be in a similar boat. It’s really time to bump the obsession with terminal ballistics down the list and keep context at the top. Despite what the ‘5.56 AR-15/ 00 buckshot or nothing’ crowd says, it’s more important that all the shooters meant to use a firearm can achieve a certain level of competency. If that means a .22LR, then that’s what it is. I wanted to give a 9mm carbine a chance, so here we are.

The tactical problem:

This is the reason we want a rifle that anyone in the house can use. My greatest concern is the shooting problem of a home invader with a downrange no-shoot. Not that it needs saying, but in the real world, it is very likely that there will be no-shoots forward of the ‘180* range safety line’. In fact, it’s quite common in home invasions for a husband to answer the late-night knock on the door, only to be overrun by bad guys. If I’m downrange, I want to make sure my shooters are competent enough to shoot them well, and not shoot me. It’s a self-preservation thing.

Story time to drive the point home. One of Tom Givens’ Students had to make a difficult shot with her husband down range:

A struggle ensued, during which the homeowner was shot in the thigh by one of the suspects. The homeowner’s wife was at the front door to greet her husband, and saw the attack. She ran upstairs, got her handgun, opened the bedroom window and engaged the suspects with several shots from the window.
She hit one suspect, and both fled.

Here’s another:

As the husband neared the front door, he heard the dogs growl and ran back to his bedroom, arming himself with a can of wasp spray, the records say. A man charged him in a hallway, and the husband sprayed the wasp spray in the intruder’s face, but it had no effect.

“The fight was on,” the records say. Both men tumbled to the floor, and the wife ran out with a baseball bat and struck the intruder with it until it broke, according to the documents.

After about three minutes, the husband yelled to his wife for help, “not knowing how long he could hold out in the fight,” according to the records. The wife “ran to the kitchen, grabbed a knife and stabbed the suspect several times until he quit fighting.”

These instances are not rare.  That’s reason enough for me to want good shooters in the house.

The Result:


I decided that I wanted to try the Ruger PC Carbine in 9mm. It checked a lot of the boxes that I had for this purpose. There’s a lot of reasons I went with this over some of the other options out there. I’ll make a quick list of the big ones:

  • In 9mm. A caliber that all of my handguns shoot. I have plenty on hand, and one caliber streamlines things. It’s also the most affordable ‘duty round’ caliber.
  • Easily takes an optic on the section of picatinny rail on top of the receiver.
  • Takes Glock magazines. From 10-round to 33-round happy sticks.
  • Similar ergonomics to the Ruger 10/22. The rifle that my wife has the most time on.
  • Affordable. I got mine for $425 on Brownells. That’s extremely reasonable for a rifle.
  • Adjustable length-of-pull with included butt-pads
  • A section of rail that can be used for a weapon mounted light. I always try to have a light on long-gun.
  • Has the ability to break down in half for transport and storage (not necessary, but a nice feature)

Next up will be some details on running it faster, optimizing the setup, and designing a training program.

Thanks for reading,

Mark

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You Can’t Teach Heart…. Right?

There’s a common saying in combat sports (and other high risk endeavors) that goes, “You Can’t Teach Heart”. As in, either you’re born with the gameness to fight, to push yourself beyond your comfort zone, run into the burning building, and continue to fight in the face of adversity and possible injury… or you’re not.

This phrase has one of two effects on the observer. One, the person gets fired up and feels they’re part of a special class who is willing to fight with heart and overcome adversity. Two, a person who sees someone exhibit great Heart and can’t fathom themselves ever being able to keep up and they subsequently never start.

I would like to propose that ‘Heart’ is a skill like any other that can be built through years of dedicated work, working towards a meaningful goal, a willingness to be uncomfortable in the pursuit of that goal, and the discipline to keep showing up. I will agree that there are people who seem to be naturally fearless and talented at maintaining a winner’s outlook. There are those who were born with the attributes that allow them to excel quickly. I’m not writing this for them. Those of us who question if we have what it takes are not lost. There is hope for us and ample room for growth.

My path to cultivating Heart has been through Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. So I’ll be talking about heart through that lens. Why BJJ? Because improving at Jiu Jitsu requires:

  • Discipline to keep showing up.
  • Repeated and Demoralizing defeats (Ego calibration)
  • Collecting and assimilating techniques (motor learning)
  • Discovering your personal strengths and many weaknesses (self-reflection)
  • Developing your athleticism (multidisciplinary pursuit)
  • Mental toughness (Heart)

There’s lots of ways to show Heart in BJJ. Lots of ways to stretch what you can tolerate and develop grit. I’ve been at it almost 8 years,  my BJJ honeymoon has been over for a while, so I feel I can speak about this a bit objectively and with enough experience to be useful.

Cultivate Heart

If there is a genetic component to heart, I feel like I probably was given a minimal share. I am full of fear, low confidence, self-doubt, and generally don’t care for competition. I’d rather go with the flow and fly under the radar. I’m the kind of person who you probably wouldn’t expect to love a combat sport. Here are my observations for what it takes to improve your Heart. To turn from an easy-quitter to someone who is likely to see it through.

  • Maintain an internal focus. Try to learn to be completely present and to understand and accept yourself. Make it less about winning, and more about improving yourself an incremental amount day to day. Strive to say, “If I had to fight last week’s version of me, I’d win”.
  • Keep showing up. Even if you feel the majority of your workouts are placeholder workouts, just keep going. Suppress the negative self talk and say to that voice, “you shut-up until we get this work in” and just go. If you are resolved to your ultimate goals, you’ll be able to see past bad workouts and demoralizing defeats. It seems heart is developed at the edge of your willingness to continue being uncomfortable. At your quitting line. So the more time you spend with opportunities to suffer, the quicker you will develop heart.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be the biggest fish in the pond. If you’re no longer challenged, you need to expand your group of training partners or your goals to continue your personal growth. Luckily this has never been an issue for me, but I can see it in others.
  • Maintain a growth mindset. If you come to view shortcomings as obstacles to overcome, rather than excuses to quit, you will continue down the correct path. If you believe that Heart is a skill to build, and you work at it, you will find you are able to do things that take more Heart than you thought you had.
  • Understand that having Heart ultimately is about Love. Love of the game, love of your people, love of the journey. You might start your martial arts journey because you’re fearful or angry, but if you don’t grow to love the journey itself, you’ll burn out. The people who are dominant through anger or hatred eventually get beaten and crumble mentally. If you’re coming from a place of love, even failure is motivating. Be love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t think of many higher pursuits than self-improvement and self-understanding. I will continue on this path as long as my body and mind lets me. I hope you got something useful from this one.

 

If you want to read more on this topic, check out A Fighters Heart.
Regards,

Mark

Better Health Through Genetic Analysis

If you know me, it should be no secret that studying health and longevity is a passion of mine. I spend most of my free time researching how I can optimize my health and performance and maximize my time on this planet. If there’s a bit of control that I can exercise on my health, I want to pull those levers.

In an effort to look deeper at myself and optimize my health, I recently bought myself a 23andMe Ancestry and Genetics saliva test kit. I spit into the vial, sent it off, and waited. About 4 weeks later, I received my data. I then uploaded into a third party analysis software (foundmyfitness.com) which shows the DNA sequence, what it represents, and any health risks or advice that can mitigate any risk factors. It’s fascinating and filled with actionable advice for ME to use to optimize my health.

A welcome bonus was my genetic report confirming details that I’ve discovered via trial and error and extensive reading. This gives a road map and way forward to continue to increase my health. Plus it’s fun to know your heritage and some genetic components to your lifestyle choices.

A page of information from my 23andme health data

My Data

It’s not very useful for you to see my data, other than to convince you that you should get this testing done for yourself. Here’s some of my report, and what I’ll do to hedge my bets. The following reports are from FoundMyFitness. I also ran mine on Promethease.com and the data is presented differently. I think FMF is better for actionable health advice.

Well, my DNA is right. I’m a Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor. I have been implementing fasting into my life for years, and will continue to do so. I will be adding resveratrol supplementation.
My vitamin D status is always historically low. I supplement about 5,000 IU daily and will continue to.
This is interesting to me. I usually skip breakfast and lunch, and eat a dinner. I will start eating my first meal early in the day, and stop eating at about 2pm.
It’s important for me to eat my eggs for choline.
I supplement fish oil daily, and will continue to do so. I’m glad I’m not a vegan.
I should concentrate more on nuts and fish and eating leaner cuts of beef. The study seems to be mostly concerned with the ratio of saturated to polyunsaturated, so my fish oil supplementation will help cover me too.

With some simple lifestyle tweaks, I’m eating and living more in-line with what my genetics demands of me. It’s also interesting to note that my heritage is mostly European, and nearly all of the diet recommendations involved eating more fish. It’s almost like I am tuned to thrive on the foods of my people. Bizarre, right?

How Do you get your test kit and report?

There might be some enlightening and scary information in your results. It’s up to you if you want to have a look inside your DNA for clues on optimizing yourself.

  1. Buy a kit from Amazon, or buy directly from 23andme. Occasionally there are price breaks, and it might be worth checking in from time to time.
  2. Run your raw data through a DNA health analyzer like FoundMyFitness or  Promethease for a small fee (~$10).

I hope you found this useful.

Mark