Develop Your Self Defense Principles Thoughtfully, or You’ll Likely Pay a High Price.

There’s a debate about the moral implications of shooting an assailant after defending an attack and making some space (during a Krav Maga defense).

During the GZTac Core Handgun Class a couple weeks back, the topic came up, and the conversation turned into a philosophical debate contended in a vacuum (bad idea). The truth is, whether or not you are defending a violent attack with your pistol holstered or in “presentation” position, a violent assailant who has not been knocked silly or pushed back an incredible distance (meaning over 25 feet) is still in a position to charge you and hurt you again.

Yes, you could present your pistol and belt out a couple alpha commands in the hopes that the assailant will comply with your instructions, but to do so is also gambling that a willing and violent assailant will have a change of heart. If you’re wrong, and the assailant charges you – moving forward much faster than you can move backwards – you’ll be hoping that your pistol produces rampage stopping results inside close quarters. This simply doesn’t happen all that often.

The reality is, you may shoot your assailant AFTER he/she has regained balance and momentum and comes charging at you for a second attack, but it’s unlikely your shots (even in center mass) will cause total secession of the attack. Now, add in a knife or blunt object (like a hammer), and you’re either bleeding out or suffering from substantial blunt force trauma to the head.

So, you’ve traded your shots into your assailant’s center mass for your own potentially mortal wound. Most people don’t understand three very important issues associated with this type of scenario: (1) structure and speed refer to the capacity for an assailant to get his/her weight moving quickly back to you after space is made during a defense, (2) lag time refers to the processing delay humans encounter when trying to react to surprising and/or uncertain stimuli, and (3) terminal force describes how (in this case) bullets cause a terminal effect measured by time and reduction in capacity to fight.

If an assailant gets his/her structure forward and speeds towards you during your issuing of alpha commands, and you experience some amount of lag time in the reactive process (you will), and your course of fire at the assailant does not cause immediate stoppage – you are very likely going to be injured. It’s that simple.

In short, most of the cases where an attack has been made (i.e. knife attack with a push off to move to your higher force option) and a defense has been successfully applied do not create the kind of space and time needed to adequately respond to another and/or successive attacks without incurring substantial mortal risk. For this reason, my GZTac training often involves detailed conversations about what I call the GZTac Principle of Assumed Violence.

You simply cannot confidently assume that because a defense has been made and some space achieved that this result is sufficient and will afford you the space and time to safely extract yourself from the situation and/or effectively end the situation utilizing your pistil without sustaining bodily harm. Instead, you must train to quickly be in position to utilize your pistol as a proactive response (as opposed to a reactive response).

Walk in peace…but be prepared to shoot…

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1 comment

  1. Pedro A. Franco


    I like the logical approach and explanation. It makes perfect sense. And while I hope to never find myself in such a situation, I believe I now have the knowledge to make an informed decision.

    Thanks for sharing.