Book Review: Red Zone Knife Defense

Coach Jerry Wetzel of Red Zone Threat Management just released a book outlining his excellent unarmed knife defense program. It is 185 pages of rock solid, testable, and easy to implement blade (and blunt weapons) defense. With this book, a willing training partner, a training blade, and a place to train, you could get functional at shutting down a real knife attack and die less often.

The first chapters are a great framing of what a knife defense program needs to look like. The author discusses traditional knife defense programs and outlines the problems with their training modality. The major issue with most is a lack of ‘aliveness’. The highly orchestrated attack lines and total lack of aggressive forward drive one sees in most knife defense programs doesn’t line up with reality. He also points out that you’re not likely to run into a trained knife fighter, but rather someone with a pointy implement and the desire to put it into you as fast and as much as possible. If your knife defense doesn’t take this into account, you need to look into another method.

The author systematically points out the flaws in logic that several knife programs seem to ignore. After you read the early chapters, you’ll be shaking your head at the time you wasted pursuing these other programs. Live and learn.

The Real Secret is that the answer lies in consistent training and understanding what we’re training for.

How Knife Attacks Tend To Look:

Example of highly choreographed knife work:

The Redzone Method:

The best thing about the RZKD program is that it can be trained at full speed, and that the feeder (knife guy) can give a genuine effort to stab you, and you have a reasonable chance to shut it down.

Real attacks have aggressive pressure, multiple rapid attack lines, you may not realize the knife is in play until you’re stabbed, and your empty hand skills will come in real handy when dealing with this problem (so get some), both parties fixate on the blade, it could be really bloody, mostly stabs and NOT slashes, mostly to the torso, and you might have to overcome some of your instincts to be successful.

Coach Wetzel stresses that we might indeed get cut, maybe even badly, but we need to continue fighting until the lights go out, because quitting is not an option.

The Red Zone Knife program blends seamlessly with the other modules that they teach. Commonality of techniques across disciplines, emphasis on cultivating awareness and space management, non-diagnostic defensive postures, and principle based self-defense is the best thing going, in my opinion. Dominating Posture, Pressure, and Position is the key to digging yourself out of the hole.

The author addresses several scenarios in which we might find ourselves:

  • Outright ambush, this is worst case
  • Posturing with a blade, intimidation
  • You’re in a fist fight, then a blade comes out
  • You see the knife in hand at a distance as the attacker crashes in.
  • Grounded against a knife

Luckily for us, the way to deal with these issues follows a very streamlined decision tree, with a common road map to follow.

Step One: RUN… but if you can’t….

Step Two: Control the Weapon Bearing Limb (strategy depends on range). And monitoring for a hand switch.

Step Three:Two-on-One to the ground if the attacker presses in, or the Lasso if he retracts the weapon bearing limb.

Step Four: Weapon disarms. Luckily there’s only two you need.

It’s as simple as this (but it’s not always easy). The author also covers a few less common circumstances to try out including fouling a draw, working against a wall, the ‘hostage’ type scenario, and grounded situations.

I’ve trained in several seminar style classes that included RZKD methods, and I am super excited that this book is out to have a book to work from for my training group. I think you’ll really like.

Highly Recommended.

Mark

Red Zone Knife Defense:



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Range Master Conference 2017: Bolke/Dobbs What Really Matters

This is the first of several posts that will be a summary of  my notes from the Range Master Tactical Conference. All material belongs to the presenters and I am posting my notes for the benefit of the greater body of knowledge available to those who couldn’t make it.

Darryl Bolke and Wayne Dobbs of Hardwired Tactical gave an excellent lecture and range session that is spun off from their previous lecture “Training Secrets of Highly Successful Gunfighters”.

Darryl’s forum posts are what inspired me to write Zen and the Art of Not Shooting, as well as What Does Avg. Joe Need In A Trigger. I was looking forward to hearing him talk about these topics in more detail.

Classroom

  • “Practice makes permanent” – Pat Rogers
  • “Train for maximum efficiency at an assessment speed on an acceptable target” -HiTS
  • Assessment speed-The speed at which you can see, interpret, and choose where to hit a target. Asking yourself, “is my target still there? No? Stop Shooting. Yes? Keep shooting”
  • Acceptable target- Is a target about the size of a grapefruit – period (The black of a B-8 bullseye target) Heart and brain are both about this size.
  • Always be thinking you’ll need a failure drill (ending with a headshot) and practice with that in mind.
  • Why should we shoot faster than we can assess and faster than we can stop? You want to go fast? Then go ‘street fast’.
  • Draw but don’t touch the trigger until you have a good sight track. This isn’t good for shooting, but it’s good for people management.
  • Don’t touch the trigger until you have satisfied these three. Target ID, Objective reason to shoot, and your firearm is aligned with that shoot target.
  • Let’s be right before we touch the trigger.
  • “Advanced Shooting” is just more difficult problems applying the same fundamentals
  • They like the overhand rack method to solve multiple problems with the gun.
  • Train what is hard (50 and 100 yd pistol shooting, for instance)
  • Train to an accuracy standard, not a time.
  • Application of lethal force – The only thing going through your head should be front sight, press, follow through
  • You WILL be able to see movement of your target peripherally while maintaining a hard focus on your sights. Use your sights.
  • All you REALLY need in a carry gun is sights I can see, a usable trigger, and reliability
  • Revolvers still work.
  • If you’re slower than .3 second splits, practice shooting faster
  • If you’re faster than .2, you don’t need to concentrate on shooting faster
  • There is almost never a need to perform a slidelock or speed reload
  • Move at ‘natural human speed’ (the speed that your hands move to catch a sneeze), don’t be spazzy.
  • LAPD trains to a .5 second split time
  • It takes about .3 seconds to stop shooting once you’ve decided to
  • If your splits are faster than .3 seconds, you’ll fire unintentionally until the signal to stop makes it to your hands. (force science)


(Poor Audio. This is Dobbs talking about force science research about the time it takes to stop shooting)


Range and Drills

Ken Hackathorn – Super Test (On b8 from low ready). The Advanced ST is shot from holster, same par times. A good score is 270

  • 15 yds, 10 rounds, 15 seconds
  • 10 yds, 10 rounds, 10 seconds
  • 5 yds, 10 rounds, 5 seconds

Single shot from holster. x ring accuracy standards

  • 5 single shots from a low ready at 7 yds (A legit ready, aimed below the ‘feet’ of your target)
  • 5 doubles from low ready at 7 yards. (10 shots)

These drills are critical for grip, sight usage, trigger control, and follow-through

Don’t give them a free chance. Sight alignment should improve as you progress through a string of fire. Sights/Slack/Hit?(give it about 2 seconds of assessment, don’t snatch it back unless you perceive a slide lock or malfunction)

  • 5yds, 5 rounds, 5 seconds on a 5″ circle
  • 3rds, 3 rnds, 3 seconds from holster with a sidestep

Qual A:

  • 25 yds, 4 seconds, 2 shots, low ready
  • 15 yds, 3 seconds, 2 shots, low ready
  • 10 yds, 3.5 seconds, 2body 1 head, low ready
  • 7 yds, 3 seconds, 2body 1head, low ready, 2 reps
  • 5 yds, 2.5 seconds, 2body 1head, low ready, 2 reps
  • 3 yds, 2 seconds, 2 body 1 head, low ready, 2 reps
  • 7 yds, 4 seconds, 2 body 1 head, from holster, step left, then right (2 reps)
  • 5 yds, 3 seconds, 2 body 1 head, from holster, step left, then right (2 reps)
  • 3 yds, 2 seconds, 1 headshot, from holster, step left then right (2 reps)

Scoring:

  • 80% pass
  • head (t-box) – 2 points
  • Outside the t-box – 1 point
  • within 8 ring of b8 – 2 points
  • within 7 ring of b8 – 1 point
  • all else – 0 points

 

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Picking Your Carry Gun Based On Shooting Metrics

In the interest of practicing what I preach, as well as giving me something to do, I have decided to pick the ‘best’ carry pistol for me from my current small collection. This journey is mine alone, but I encourage you to think about what you value in a carry gun, do some research, and then shoot your short list side by side with a few drills that highlight the skills you’re likely to need.

Rather than rely on changing fancies over different guns and brands, and to avoid the collector trap (which I can’t afford), I want to pin down what is ‘best’ based on actual numbers, and then go with that choice for a while.

Like Chris at LuckyGunner, I’m going to start compiling my own scoreboard of guns by shooting the same few drills and getting comparison numbers. This is something I talked about in my youtube article.

If you’ve been with me for a bit, then you know that over the last couple of years, I have had a shift in priority for my carry guns. To quickly reiterate, my priorities are, in order:

  1. Not shooting myself
  2. Not shooting what I don’t want to shoot
  3. Shooting what I want to shoot

Mechanical Requirements and Features

I’ve spent a lot of skull sweat weighing the relative importance of shooting the gun accurately, shooting the gun at speed, day to day handling, threat management, one handed manipulation ease, weight and carry comfort, concealability, magazine capacity, accessory and magazine cost and support, and company reputation.

I’ve taken a honest hard look at the number of negative outcomes from things like NDs (negligent discharge) from sloppy administrative gun handling, trigger checking in high stress situations, sympathetic hand movement, and support gear failure/wardrobe malfunctions. It became apparent that I should acknowledge that I’m probably not as good as I think I am, and that leaning on a mechanical feature to add an extra layer of safety isn’t a sign of weakness.

A post shared by ENDO (@everydaynodaysoff) on

 (ouch for this guy. Keep an eye on your gear)

Here’s a short list of what I currently value in a carry gun, all things considered.

  • Reliability. I use the ‘2000 round challenge‘ that TLG outlines. Though an initial 200-300 round break-in and subsequent testing with carry ammo is a good start down that road.
  • No manual safeties. No extra buttons to get the gun into action. I’m not against guns with safeties, I just have chosen to go down the path buying guns without them. I like decocker only for DA/SA guns.
  • Ability to monitor the trigger with the thumb while holstering via either an exposed hammer, tactile striker indicator or Striker Control Device (The Gadget) on a Glock
  • Double Action Only. I was on a DA/SA kick with the Beretta PX4c, but I decided that I favor the shot-to-shot trigger consistency of a DAO. The long deliberate trigger press helps with people management and mitigates a few of the possible negligent situations mentioned above. I also feel like I pay more attention to my sights through the longer trigger press, which I realize is a personal problem. Claude has mentioned that this phenomena is not unique to me, however.
  • Overall concealability for my current living situation and needs.

The Drills

I chose three drills. One is pure speed, one is pure accuracy, and the last is an integration of speed and accuracy at varying distances and is used by the LAPD. Claude Werner chose and modified the LAPD course to rank some guns and I glommed on with him.

The drills are:

  • The Bill Drill from a Low Ready at 3 yards. 6 shots from a low ready on an target I can’t miss allows me to find my split-time/speed limit with that gun. The low ready starting point means I don’t have to have support gear for the gun I am testing and can shoot at a range where drawing from a holster isn’t allowed.
  • 25 yard, 10 shots slow-fire on a B-8 bullseye, unsupported. Calculating the score. Pure accuracy. Sights and Trigger.
  • (TacProf modified) LAPD Combat Course (Page 11 of this PDF). This one includes various ranges, par times, emergency and speed reloads, shooting from cover, drawing the gun, shooting from a low ready, target transitions, and some headshots. It’s a challenging course of fire that is scored for points, so there is some scoring resolution at the higher skill levels.

The Guns

  • Glock 19 (My ‘control’ firearm that I’ve carried for 9 years). Striker fired, 15 round magazine. .120″ Ameriglo fiber optic sights, 3.5# connector and 6# Trigger spring.
  • Sig Sauer P250 Compact with a medium-subcompact grip module. 12 round magazine. Double Action Only with a trigger like a smoothed out revolver. Ameriglo Orange front sight.
  • H&K P30sk with V1 “Light LEM” trigger. This is my newest pistol. 10 round mag. Double action only. The LEM trigger has long light travel up until you get to a 6lb or so trigger break. It feels like a marriage of the weight of a Glock trigger with the trigger travel of the P250.
L to R: P30sk 10 round, Sig P250 12 round, Glock 19 15 round. I don’t know how HK can’t fit 2 more rounds in their mag, but who am I to ask questions?

The Results

Ammo: Freedom Munitions 124gn reloads.

  • Glock 19

Avg. Split Time: .25 seconds

25 yd B-8 Scores: 48/100, and 60/100

LAPD Combat Course:*

  • Sig P250 Compact

Avg. Split Time: .29 seconds

25 yd B-8 Scores: 46/100, and 70(1x)/100

LAPD Combat Course:*

  • HK P30sk

Avg. Split Time: .228 seconds

25 yd B-8 Scores: 76(2x)/100, and 76(0x)/100

LAPD Combat Course:*

*I haven’t had an opportunity to shoot the LAPD combat course yet, but will add to the post when I do.

The Conclusion

I really don’t have a logical explanation for why I could shoot my new sub-kompact HK better than a pistol I exclusively shot and trained with for over 9 years. The only excuse I can think of is that I shot the Glock early in the session, and as I warmed up, my scores improved. Alternatively, I simply shoot this HK better than my G19.

If I go strictly by the numbers, the HK gets the nod. If I go by what features I have the warm and fuzzies about, the Sig or HK get the nod. I’m glad my perceived needs aligned with my test scores.

I’d admit that the results are close enough to probably not matter. It’s really a wash. I also realize I have a slow trigger finger. I’m also not a high volume shooter, with most of my practice coming in the form of dry-fire. Ultimately, my visual and mental processing speed and decision making ability will be the speed limit of my shooting, not the physical manipulation of the gun.

As a result of my findings, I’ll be strapping on the P30sk in the morning for the foreseeable future. The Sig will get a X300U and a Safariland ALS Holster for House Gun Duty. The Glock19 will cry in the safe.

I encourage you to do similar testing for yourself. You won’t know which of your guns you shoot best until you run the numbers. Don’t get married to specific gun based on ego, time invested, stubbornness, or blind trust in an instructor’s recommendation. Also, don’t change guns with the wind. Consistency and dedication to the grind is the key. Almost any gun will do, if you will.

Thanks,
Mark

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Review: Combatives For Concealed Carry: Clinch Fighting Volume 1

I’m always looking to improve my grappling. I do my Jiu Jitsu and get together with training partners and integrate grappling with weapons whenever I can. However, it’s very difficult to find instructional media that deals with grappling in a weapons based environment. Justin White of Mad Science Defense has a series of DVDs about this topic.

In case you don’t have time to read this: I recommend this DVD.

Chapters and Topics:

  1. Introduction – An explanation of why we might need to deal with a standing contact range fight with weapons.
  2. Dummy Guns
  3. Weapons Access- Discussion of accessing a weapon while in an entangled fight. Discussion of a universal draw stroke.
  4. Posture/Angle/Level- A solid discussion of the fundamental requirements to have sharp grappling.
  5. Clinch from Strikes – Achieving the clinch from a Cover and Crash or off of a striking blast.
  6. Clinch from Grabs – Front, side, and back
  7. Offside Underhook – Options for when your weak arm has an underhook
  8. Strongside Underhook – Options for when your strong arm has an underhook
  9. Overhook – Options for when you can’t achieve an underhook.
  10. Skill Development – Drills to work at home. 1-2-3 dominance drill, slo-mo drill

Extras:

  • Choosing Dummy Weapons
  • Using a Training Dummy
  • Striking With a Handgun
  • Scenario Training

Things I loved:

Expert grappling instruction. It is obvious that Mr. White is a talented grappler and instructor. His teaching progression is logical and starts with the fundamentals of posture, angle, and level and he then introduces techniques that will allow you to close distance and achieve a clinch. He progresses from a solid clinch (underhook and far-side wrist control) to either a tie up, or taking the back of your opponent. He finishes the progression with accessing weapons from these dominant positions.

His details cleared up a few sticking points I have been having while standing. I’ll be taking them to our training group. His emphasis on doing the work was much appreciated. He urged the viewer to seek training and emphasized that this stuff won’t just happen if you don’t practice it. He even gives some exercises to work with a partner to get better at this stuff at home.

Good stuff.

Minor Gripes:

I don’t envy anyone who has to try to cram a topic as dense as standing weapon-based grappling into an hour presentation. There just isn’t enough time to mention all the details. For the person who hasn’t seen this material before, I would have loved to see a brief discussion on why the clinch is such a viable fighting platform for an extreme close range problem. Why we don’t want to get in a speed draw contest with our opponent at close range. Mentioning the importance of monitoring hands while in a clinch to prevent the other guy from getting his weapons, as well as a discussion of why underhooks are such a dominant position just in case the viewer doesn’t glean that from the instruction. But of course I understand why it was omitted, those ideas were inferred in the material and we only had an hour.

The other gripe I have is in one of his tie-up positions from an overhook. He advocates shooting from this position while pointing his gun at himself (43:00 of video). I know (from simunition experience) that it’s easy to shoot yourself if you’re not super careful about your muzzle-target line. I talked with Mr. White about this and he recognized that it was a bit of an oversight. This was the only flub like this I noticed.

In conclusion:

This DVD would be a solid buy whether you have experience grappling or not. If you have trained with any of the Shivworks collective, this will be a good reminder of your options in the clinch. If you haven’t, you’ll get an idea of what this topic is about. I hope I get to train with Justin one day, as he has a lot to teach. I need to pick up his ground fighting DVD next. Recommended.

Be Safe,

Mark

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