AAR: Point Driven Training – Saps and Jacks 2018

This was an eight hour course on the history, and contextual implementation of short impact weapons. It was hosted at The Complete Combatant in Marietta, Ga. This course was magical in several ways and is a must take if you really dig leather and lead self-defense tools. I loved it because it deals with an arcane, but extremely effective, self defense implement. Larry Lindenman is a friend and mentor to me, and I’ve been reading and training with him since 2008 or so. It also was full of great trainers and practitioners, including Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training, who I also consider a dear friend. It was a hell of a Saturday. Here’s a breakdown.

What is a Sap,Blackjack, or slungshot?

I’m not a historian on these tools, but I can give you a quick rundown on their construction. Here’s a recently published book on the history of these tools and their use if you’re interested in that. They were first documented in the 1700’s as a sailor’s tool made of pigskin and stuffed with sand used for some sort of impact duty on a ship. I guess they also realized you could get in a drunken brawl with them and they would work well as an impact weapon. They were flattened out and became saps in the 1940’s. They evolved,were perfected, and used to good effect up through the 1980’s when they fell out of favor.

Unlike a knife, which deals no ballistic impact, a sap can deal a real immediate physiological stop. They also don’t cause someone to bleed their loathsome blood-borne pathogens all over you when used in a fight (H/T The Tactical Professor for that point)

Sap

A sap is a flattened lead weight wrapped in leather, often with a strap for retention. The sap is easily carried next to the wallet in the back pocket, with enough material outside the pocket to acquire a grip and access. It has the advantage of two impact surfaces. You can choose to hit with the flat, or the edge, giving options in severity of damage depending on targeting. Saps are my preference.

Jack

A blackjack is a cylindrical impact tool, usually with a spring running through the grip, and a lead weight cast onto the head, all wrapped up in leather. They’re harder to carry daily, but their sprung weight makes them extremely potent when striking.

slungshot

A slungshot is some sort of weight, with a rope-like handle. Think a handkerchief tied around the hasp of a padlock. You choke your grip right up next to the weight, and swing it like that. Otherwise it bounces all over the place and can smash your face after you strike.

The Contextualized Self-Defense Approach

I’m not ruining any of the magic of working with Larry (or any Shivworks instructor) because the magic isn’t in the information, but in doing the work. You’ll quickly notice themes in any Shivworks instructor’s material. This is by design, and for simplicity. A clear path, with simple rules and goals, yields a high retention and success rate. That’s the elegance of the model these guys use.

The instruction progresses in a logical manner, with each following phase resulting from some failure of the previous phase. The coursework progresses from the managing unknowns phase which includes verbalization, movement, and the use of the fence hand posture.

The “fence” position, as taught by Geoff Thompson

It then moves to a default cover position which is a non-diagnostic ‘helmet’ that helps you stay upright and conscious as a surprise attack is launched on you.

Here, Craig Douglas demonstrates the default cover position against Cecil Burch of Immediate Action Combatives during the Rangemaster Tactical Conference. Photo Credit: Cecil Burch

Then comes the grappling phase, where some simple modifications to proven sport grappling techniques address the possibility of your opponent having his own weapons.  The goal is to get behind or tie up your opponent long enough to decide what to do next.

For this course, it was to access an impact tool and begin striking. It could also be accessing a pistol, a knife, or a throw to hit your opponent with the earth. The path is the same, no matter the tool you’re carrying. This is the power of this ‘system’ if you want to call it that.

After this worst-case scenario of having to access the tool in the fight, we worked on preemptive access, which is a whole lot easier.

Where and How to Strike?

While these are considered “less-lethal tools”, it’s really easy to deal a deadly blow with one, so some training is needed. The temple, base of skull, and possibility of a knock-out and secondary impact with the head bouncing off the pavement could certainly be deadly. We learned how to generate power through our hips and deliver blows in short arcs. The space needed to implement the tools is different than a blade or gun, so we worked those skills.

We concentrated on targeting large muscle groups, joints, clavicle, ribs, arms, thighs. We learned both broken strikes (think a piston pumping), and carry-through strikes (think slashes that set up strikes in the opposite direction).

Training Drones for practice

My New Foster Brother’s Sap

The Foster Brothers are the gold standard for leather saps and jacks today. I took a picture of one of Larry’s saps, and asked Todd to make one for me. It arrived yesterday and I’m very pleased. I don’t know what model sap it is, I’m glad I took a photo to send with my request. FOSTER IMPACT DEVICES

Tidbits

  • Don’t waste your money on a ‘coin purse’ sap. Everyone (TSA, cops, etc) knows what it is, and coins aren’t really dense enough to add meaningful weight for your strikes.
  • Why not brass-knuckles? Simply put, access. A blackjack can be accessed in-fight like a fixed blade knife and be put right into action. Knucks require you to put 4 fingers in 4 finger sized holes. Knucks are more of a pre-meditated and preemptive impact tool.
  • It’s legal for GA residents to carry an impact weapon, you should check for your state before you buy/make your own.
  • Quick and Dirty history of jacks and saps
  • The LAMB method full text document HERE
Great Success!
Me, Larry Lindenman, Greg Ellifritz


Technique: The Revival of the Outdated Speed Rock on Social Media

The proliferation of Instagram and Youtube shooting sensations has brought with it a disturbing trend. I have noticed that in MANY of the shooting I’ve seen in the 15-60 second cherry picked drills they decide to post, they use the ‘speed rock’ retention position for contact distance shooting. Then they show you their timer to show how quickly they can complete a contact distance drill. This is an oversimplification of the problems that arise in this contact distance situation. I have to set the record straight because people are actually watching this stuff and considering it to still be legitimate technique. Long story short, it’s not.

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Here’s one IG example so we’re on the same page. Watch his posture as he leans back and back pedals away from the target. Boy howdy, he sure is fast!!! Unfortunately, this is more than a speed shooting problem.

Note: This is nothing against this guy. He's a better shooter than I'll ever be. I just don't want people to think this is viable against a resisting opponent. When you get to initiate a sequence against stationary targets with no free will, ANYTHING will work. Add another human and things get more slippery.

#repost from @truexodus Decided to work with my new @lake_county_knife_and_tool pokey device tonight. Just working a few scenarios in my head. Naturally, when fighting with an opponent with arms and weapons things are a bit different. One of the things people tend to forget is that the bad guy doesn’t know or expect you’re carrying a weapon. So when you decide to act, act quickly and with great violence. Please don’t practice shooting from retention. Remember, I’m not a professional. I’m just a no body preacher trying to develop myself by getting out and using the skills I’ve learned from other professionals to increase the likelihood of my success in a deadly force encounter. #trustandard @rubberdummies @salientarmsinternational @lake_county_knife_and_tool @nevadaammunition @trexarms PS: I don’t care if you don’t like rap.

A video posted by Rubber Dummies (@rubberdummies) on

Here’s the issue…The Speed Rock is a POOR technique!

What is the Speed Rock?

From The Tactical Pistol 1996 “The “speed rock” refined for combative use by Chuck Taylor is a last-option technique for arm’s length situation where there is no room to evade or maneuver. The shooter “rocks” the pistol out of the holster and simultaneously “rocks” his torso back to bring the muzzle onto the adversary’s vital zone”

So, 20 years ago, when folks were still really into the Weaver stance and mullets, this was the state of the art. So why was it a technique worth learning back then? It was the attempt to deal with the obvious real problem of a contact distance fight, in which so many police and citizens find themselves. It was an early beta technique which has evolved to higher percentage techniques. Here is a great article on its history.

It is FAST! You need only clear your duty holster, drop your elbow and bow forward at the hips to bring the muzzle slightly above horizontal, and you can start pressing the trigger as you back away. The more you drop your elbow and sacrifice your base with bowed hips, the more the impact zone will rise on the target. I think this is why the IG-speed shooter guys do it. Showing a timer after a drill like this seems impressive to their ignorant followers. Ignorant, not stupid. I’m trying to educate the ignorant.

Apparently it’s still taught by some very decorated guys from the special operations community. I will remind you that being really good at shooting people with a carbine in a military setting doesn’t necessarily directly translate to a criminal assault at a RedBox in front of a gas station when you’re wearing a subcompact gun under a T-shirt. It’s more than a shooting problem, it should be treated as a combative/grappling problem that happens to include weapons.

That, and Tom Cruise did it in Collateral…

Why it Sucks and You Shouldn’t Practice It



  1. The first and most important issue is the complete sacrifice of athletic base to achieve the position. Hips forward, torso back, weight on heels. Bad. This is the EXACT position you want your opponent to be in when you perform a body lock takedown.
  2. It is demonstrably easier to sustain an impact when in an athletic base (weight on balls of feet, nose over the toes, spine in alignment) than when your weight is on your heels (only people tripping over things backwards do this).
  3. The gun is actually NO FURTHER AWAY than it would have been with good technique. You have sacrificed your mobility and ability to sustain impact for ZERO extra distance. Bad trade.
  4. You can not move backwards faster than someone can charge you.
  5. Pistols suck at stopping people. Question: What does a person do after they are shot? Answer: Whatever they were doing before they got shot. Sacrificing mobility and your base for maybe 2 shots to the lower abdomen before you’re in a grounded gun fight is a bad trade. A motivated attacker will push through you and eat your lunch. Not to mention several attackers.
  6. The upward angle is meant to put rounds into the adversary’s thoracic cavity for a more reliable stop. The problem with this is that a miss at an upward angle means a bullet that can travel extreme distances. To demonstrate my point, watch Aaron Cowan of “Sage Dynamics” advocate stitching the target by breaking the wrist to achieve higher and higher shots. Three problems with this. One, when the other guy is moving, the floaty bent wrist index falls apart and it compromises wrist strength for retention. Two, where would those missed shots land when fired at an upward angle (edit: Aaron’s range is private land and has a large wooded area behind range)? Three, if your other hand is fending or tying the other guy up, you run the risk of shooting yourself in the arms and hands. Shooting yourself in a gunfight still counts.
  7. You’re probably not fast enough to make it work at arm’s length. I’m not. Not from concealment. This technique was designed for people who carry outside the waistband. You will eat so many punches/stabs at arm’s length that the trade isn’t worth it. You need to deal with the adversary’s forward drive and strikes FIRST. Then you get to shoot him.
  8. Since we understand the criminal assault paradigm, we realize that we likely will be engaged in some verbal judo with our adversary as he tries to close distance and find the opportunity to launch his ambush. This will create a cognitive load which WILL slow down our reaction time. So by the time you clear leather, he’s on you and you’re on the ground with your gun out. Bad trade.
  9. You’ll likely not initiate the shooting whether police or citizen. He/They will make the first move. You’ll likely be reactionary. This is the way of things when you’re the good guy. There are ways to spot pre-assault cues which will clue you in that something is about to happen, but good people have trouble being aggressive enough, fast enough.
  10. This won’t work in a confined space or against a wall. Your back has nowhere to go. The technique calls for ‘full retreat’ while shooting from the hip and leaning back. We live in a world of curbs, bumpers, bollards, and walls. That means tripping.

“What Do You Advocate Then, smartass?”

  1. I learned these principles from the Shiv-Works collective. Craig Douglas, Paul Sharp, Cecil Burch, Chris Fry, and Larry Lindenman. I have seen versions of the same postural cues and retention shooting from Active Response Training, Tactical Response, and a boatload of other schools and books. The good technique is so prevalent that I find it hard to believe the speed rock is still a thing, hence the post.
  2. If we make it our mission to try to stay upright, stay mobile, and most importantly, stay conscious, then we have a spring board to drive our technique.
  3. Adopt an athletic base. Hips low, nose-over-toes (weight on balls of feet), strong posture, aligned spine. Ready to deliver or receive forward drive.
  4. When you’re reacting to your adversary’s attack at this distance, it’s foolhardy to attempt to get your gun into play. You have to deal with his forward pressure and strikes/stabs FIRST.
  5. The less-than-ideal target zone of the hips and stomach serve to diminish our opponents ability to fight. As he soaks up rounds with no obvious recourse, his will to fight will fade, and you can improve your position and make more vital-area hits if required.
  6. The dropped elbow retention position is serviceable with good posture. Elbow retracted back as soon as you clear leather, forearm indexed along ribs, slight downward angle to shots. At least we know where they’ll land.

    Greg Ellifritz from Active Response Training demonstrating a retention position along with a fending off-side arm.
    Greg Ellifritz from Active Response Training demonstrating a tight retention position along with a fending off-side arm. Note downward angle of shots, forward posture, and no intersection of muzzle line with shooter’s body.
  7. I feel that an even more defensible and repeatable position exists. It’s simply the ‘count 2’ of the draw I prefer. Elbow retracted straight up and back, thumb flagged away from slide as a standoff, thumb indexed on the pectoral muscle, bunched tight trap muscle. This creates a repeatable downward angled shot path that won’t intersect in your other arm, which is probably fending or tied up with your adversary. It also works in the horizontal plane (read: on your back). Watch Craig Douglas work this position on the range. Video by Ballistic Radio.
  8. You might need to weather the initial storm of the attack. Learn a solid non-diagnostic default position to survive the first volley. Here’s a great article about options.

In Closing

These are the best methods I’ve seen and used in high pressure force-on-force training (which is as close as we can get to a gunfight without losing training partners). If you think I’m full of shit, I encourage you to get a bite guard, some MMA gloves, a blue gun, a buddy, and a grassy field and work it. If you’re near me, I’ll work it with you. Start slowly and ramp up the pressure until you have a competitive ‘gun-fight’ and see which method keeps you on your feet longer and absorbing fewer strikes. Test, refine, repeat.

Oh, and don’t believe everything you see on the internet.

Mark

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Range Master – Tactical Conference 2016

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Last October, the announcement went out on Facebook that the Range Master 2016 tactical conference was sold out. It was to be another missed opportunity for me to attend a historic meeting of the minds. Out of the blue, Lynn Givens (wife of Range Master’s Tom Givens) told me that I was coming. She and Tom invited me to attend completely free of charge. I would later find out that I had been the first recipient of the Range Master – Todd Louis Green Scholarship. This is an honor I’m not sure I deserved. This morning (3/15/16), we learned of Todd’s passing after a valiant 10 year battle with cancer. Donate to his charity here. It was an emotional weekend for me, and one that I won’t forget.

The schedule and topics for this year are here.

I attended:

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  • Tom Givens – Defining the Threat

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  • Craig Douglas – Experiential Learning Lab (photos prohibited)
  • Tom Givens – Shotgun Fundamentals

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  • Tom Givens – Active Shooters: an Overview

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This was a tremendous opportunity for me and a rare chance to see my friends in the community. The real gold of these things is being around all of the great minds and being able to meet up with friends (old and new). Literally the best in the business presented and attended. I am the little fish in the pond, and that’s where I’m comfortable being.

Thanks to The Tactical Professor for always being a great driving buddy.

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I encourage you to try to make it to one one soon, and I hope to see you there.

Photos and Videos below.

Here are the videos I captured:

Here are some more choice photos I was able to take.

Range Master 2016

 

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