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The Complete Arsenal

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The Complete Arsenal
Gabriel Suarez

Some Modern Martial Arts Trainers use the term "Reality Based". Their training focuses exclusively on what works with little regard for convention or tradition. It is a long step forward from the days of the strip mall McDojo. Today we see a similar movement in the gun training community by a handful of instructors. However, reality based training and preparation doesn't stop at the shooting range.

Reality based is in my opinion, a training philosophy that always seeks to prove and test what is taught and trained, at all levels of force, against the harsh realities of street combat. You can be a reality based hand-to-hand student, or knife student as well as a reality based gun student.

One of the things that has separated us reality-based guys from the McGun schools has been that we look beyond the target shooting, square range aspects of our art. Our focus is not simply to shoot accurately (although that is one part of the skill matrix needed), but rather to be able to fight well. Our art is formed by a matrix of separate skills, making up a whole that is greater than the sum of its individual parts.

This Matrix of Skills comprises a Complete Arsenal and includes marksmanship skills, those skills applied in dynamic simulated gunfights via force on force training, knife skills, hand to hand fighting skills, tactics, situational awareness enhancement, physical fitness development, etc.

Sometimes we hear comments like, “I am just a normal guy and relatively untrained”. Now I must make a point about "being a normal guy...relatively untrained". Guys, there is no free lunch. Just as the pistol is not the answer to every problem you encounter, so there is no free lunch in terms of being able to fight well physically.

Certainly an untrained out of shape guy who can get ahead of the decission/action cycle can preempt a fight with extreme violence and a couple of simple techniques, but what if he can't preempt it? What if his extreme violence and simple technique is not enough that day? What will happen if he gets winded after 15 seconds of all out exertion?

I am not saying that you have to go out and quit your job and train to be a cage fighting, knife toteing, gunfighter. However, please understand that fighting (whether for self defense or anything else) requires several skill sets accross a matrix of possibilities. You do not have a tactical crystal ball that will tell you what your fight will be. Nor can you manipulate the events so you can use your favorite methods. The fight will be what it will be. You will either be able to operate at the level it comes to you or you will not. If you cannot, you will lose.

For example, traditional gun guys dislike getting pushed around physically. "I have my gun so I don't have to fight", exclaimed one "world class" trainer.

Really? Is he going to shoot a physical equal who wants to punch him in the nose at the local bar? Hardly. Pure and simple – Regardless of what he is armed with, or what his level of skill is with that gun - He will lose that fight. Even, if for the sake of argument, he was able to get his pistol out during the physical grapple, and kill the physical equal who wanted to punch him, he would lose the fight in court afterwards. Get the picture? Either way he’d lose because he was unprepared for what that incident required of him.

Guys that are in poor physical condition plan on One Good Hit To End The Fight. "I'll use the Secret Leopard Claw from the Ninja Death Manual". Theoretically it works...that is…until it doesn't and the fight goes longer than 5 seconds....or goes to the ground. Remember the Tysonism, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”.

The Complete Arsenal means that you try to be operational at as many levels as possible.

First, you should be in as good a physical condition as your true medical condition will allow. This includes cardio, strength, flexibility, etc. Read the Warrior Fitness Forum for a wealth of information on that complicated subject. Its easy to put this off, but remember the poor guy we read about a few months ago that had a heart attack during training. What a hollow victory to go flat-line when you apply your secret technique on the street, or not have the physical strength to push someone off you in a grapple you had hoped never to get into.

Understand also that few of us are in the 18-25 age bracket. Some may have physical limits due to medical issues, old injuries, or whatever. When I say to be in as good a physical condition as your true medical condition allows that is exactly what I mean. We all have physical limits, but do what you can to make yourself strong.

After this, you need a spectrum of hand to hand skills. No need to dedicate 100% of your time to becoming the next World Champ, but you do need some skills in this area as many fights will begin with a physical (not quite life threatening) event. As always, keep it as simple as a complex situation will allow. You need striking skills, reality based low kicking, stand up clinch stuff, and a little ground fighting so you can get back up just in case it goes to the ground. If you have not these skills, they don't take years to develop, but you must develop them. Go see guys like Paul Sharp and Marc Denny who specialize in teaching real guys real stuff. Likewise, go see guys like Southnarc whose program blends elements of this with in-fight weapon access.

You also need familiarity with knives. Don't be the gun guy who is afraid of knives. We laugh at the liberals who are afraid of guns, yet how many gun guys are ignorant and afraid of knives? Too many. Learn it. Knives will help bridge the gap between hand to hand and guns. You are just as likely to be facing a knife as facing a gun in some areas so learn and understand the knife. Likewise, you may be in a location where you could not bring your pistol, but you still have that Spyderco. Never be unarmed.

And last, shooting skills. You need to develop true gunfighting skills. Forget the lock-step traditional doctrines of stand-and-deliver tactical bullseye shooting that have held back the art of the gun for so many years. Learn to shoot well, and then learn to fight well with your pistol. Then apply those gunfighting skills in dynamic force on force drills and scenarios.

Finally, get your mind right. Seek to develop your awareness. Understand how the bad guys operate and learn to recognize them. Profiling your environment has been almost ignored by those who are afraid to be though of as “intolerant”. Rubbish. Accept that there are bad guys as well as bad areas. It is not being anything but wise to know and accept this. Always be distrustful of strangers, and know at what point you will act.

Read Combative Perspective and Cooper’s Principles of Personal Defense. Visit Warrio Talk daily to read the trends discussed in Open Sources as well as the Tactical Scenario Section. Forewarned is fore-armed, right??

Think through what you will do in likely situations. Avoidance is cool, but it will only take you so far so get your mind right about inflicting damage and pain, and yes...even death on your adversaries. Think it through now. I'm not much of a movie guy, but in the Hunted, Tommy Lee Jones' character told a group of soldiers, "When you can kill in your mind, the physical part is easy". So get your mind right.

A little effort in these areas is better than nothing, but you must do SOMETHING! Fighting is easy, but prevailing in a fight is not if you do not have the appropriate tools provided by the Complete Arsenal.
1 - 9 of 9 Posts

· Premium Member
25,596 Posts
Thx JT - a good read.

I am no training expert but I can't take issue with anything much here - a lot is almost common sense category - but even so, we often need reminded of many so called ''common sense'' factors.

· Super Moderator
19,365 Posts
good,common sense. More than just shooting skills need to be addressed for survival in the modern world.

· Registered
2,204 Posts
Excellent article...Gabe is "spot on" with this one.

I've often heard the types of comments he mentions--the "gun guy" that says "I've got a gun so I don't need empty-hand or knife, impact-weapon, etc. training. To me this is just as shortsighted as the martial-arts guy that says "I've got a black-belt in ____, I don't need a weapon..."

Gabe uses the term "The matrix of skills." Other instructors use the term "Integrated skillset." Either way, it describes what we should seek; a level of compentency with all of the tools: firearms, edged weapons, impact weapons, and empty-hand skills.

· Registered
750 Posts

I'll give you another line of Heinllein's, "Specialization is for ants!" From Time Enough for Love, the paragraph that followed lays it all out. (Too long to quote here.)

It's a package alright. And we need to see it that way.

I see no reason one cannot address the areas many of us tend to leave out of the equation, while avoiding becomming a "survial nut."

On the other hand, one man's "survial nut" is another man's "well-rounded individual."


· Registered
2,204 Posts
gotta love the Heinlein...:smile:

· 1952 - 2006
1,375 Posts
Excellently written.

And I'm not too proud to put the entire Heinlein quote here. I have a copy of it in a picture frame on my living room wall.

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.

Specialization is for insects.

Lazarus Long –

Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein

· Registered
3,825 Posts
Great post, JT. Thanks! Real food for thought.

I'm trying to take as much quality training as I can afford...classes last year with Andy Stanford and SouthNarc (UPS guy just dropped off SouthNarcs "Reverse Edge Methods vol. 1" DVD 20 minutes ago!)
and this year again, with a good shotgun tactics course somewhere in between.

I really need to focus on conditioning as well....:redface:
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
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