Unarmed Self-Defense

There seems to be a debate going on in the gun blogosphere about whether unarmed self-defense, or hand-to-hand combat, is a good idea or not. I haven’t been following closely enough to get an idea of what the major arguments are for or against, but I thought I’d throw my two cents into the debate, hopefully without summoning the drama llama.

There’s two types of force, legally. There’s force, and deadly force. Force is generally everything that is not deadly force, which is generally the level of force that is likely to result in grave bodily injury or death, such as a gun, knife, club, etc. Fists can be deadly force under some circumstances.

But your likelihood of running into a situation where force is allowed in self-defense, but not deadly force, are probably greater than your likelihood of encountering a deadly force situation. The force spectrum is awfully wide, before you get to deadly force, and it seems to me that it’s a good idea to have some option in that regard. In that case, I’m not likely to look down on unarmed defensive training. The more tools you have at your disposal if you have to defend yourself the better.

UPDATE: OK, I think the conversation started with this, but I didn’t put two and two together. Yeah, I’d definitely think about seeking out alternate HTH training.

UPDATE: Getting a bit more caught up on this debate, looks like it was an accident, though, I’d be open to the argument that the instructor pushed too hard. Though I’m not an expert on this to really have an opinion on that matter.

25 thoughts on “Unarmed Self-Defense”

  1. I agree. However, HTH requires every bit as much practice as shooting, if not more (YMMV). In addition, if I’m willing to get into a bad breath range altercation with someone, and I’m heeled, I am probably sufficiently worried about them that I’d rather keep my distance and maintain positive control of my firearm.

    That’s just my opinion of course. I’m sure Food Court 6 teams will have a different perspective.

  2. As you said, it’s best to have more than one option. Plus, there could be that one moment where a bad guy DOES get the drop on you and is in close range, grabbing for your gun when you are too.

    Is it a slim chance? Probably, but don’t we train for the possibility of having to defend ourselves even though the chance of that happening is slim?

    To say “I carry so I won’t have to go HTH” is to say that you are ignoring a possible situation you could end up in.

    I am not saying that you should go mall ninja, but I AM saying that you should at least have some knowledge of firearm retention and basic ‘get them the fuck off of me’ skills.

  3. Remembering the saying “God made men; Sam Colt made them equal”, I think it’s foolhardy at best to contemplate getting going mano a mano with a thug who has – absolutely guaranteed – been in a lot more no-kidding fights than you have. Your situational awareness should enable you to ‘avoid stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things’, or at least not look like the most oblivious target in sight. The only goal for hand to hand combat in a self defense situation should be to get out of the assailant’s grip so you can then run away.

  4. Well, there are those in forums everywhere who demand people get all kinds of training for their pistols before they are “responsible” enough to carry, but nobody seems to care whether I can deliver an effective front push kick, or break guard if I end up on the ground.

    1. Well, FWIW I’ve probably got 2 years or so of “pre-MMA”, and just recently got a couple pistol classes under my belt. Well worth the time and effort, but I completely agree there’s simply no comparison in time and effort involved to achieve a basic competence in HTH over learning basic self defense using the pistol. Guns are designed to make it easier. ;)

    1. Yeah, disabled usually means outrunning your attacker is not an option.
      I carry for that reason, if someone decides to do me serious harm it’s either gonna be me or him dead, and I’d rather it be him. Breaking and running isn’t an option unless I get assaulted by a cripple, even then it’s iffy.

  5. As others have pointed out, sometimes the bad guy gets the drop on you. Then you add in places where you are legally not allowed to carry, and HTH becomes a tool that you very much want to be trained in.
    I’ve been in a situation where I was unarmed and a person pulled a knife on me. I was very happy I had received some training in bare hand fighting. I was able to disarm the individual while only getting a minor cut. Plus, if someone’s “precious little darling” tries to mug you with his bare hands, it looks much better if you use your bare hands than if you use a gun.

  6. And Non-Lethal items such as Pepper Spray and Tazers in some respects are more regulated and can get one in as much or even more trouble than carrying a sidearm.

      1. Which makes no sense to me. I can legally carry a gun, which kills, but I cannot carry a taser, which only stuns.

        Go figure.

        1. You can run into the same problem with carrying a pocket knife too. It’s just silly.

  7. …hopefully without summing the drama llama

    Well, if the drama llama needs to be added up, I’m sure help can be found. There’s got to be someone here who is good with sums.

    Now, summoning…that’s different. It might require arcane rituals, strange ceremonies, and the potential for summoning horrifying creatures from the Beyond.

        1. Thanks for catching the error. Autocorrect sometimes decides to correct to what it thinks you mean rather than what you really mean.

  8. This is one of those instances where, legally, it’s to your advantage to be female or short in stature. If your opponent has a foot and 50+ pounds on you, that’s enough of a disparity in my mind to warrant deadly force in self-defense, simply because you cannot physically compete against that.

  9. Now you’ve done it, Sebastian… putting it all in context and everything! How the heck are we suppose to spew nonsense and self-justifications masquerading as argument when you go and get all rational?

    No disagreement on anything you said, but a note on pepper spray. Sometimes its use in non-defensive situations is considered a felony. That always strikes me as funny given that use of a firearm in situations deemed not defensive is often a misdemeanor (if nobody got hurt, that is).

  10. There seems to be a debate going on in the gun blogosphere about whether unarmed self-defense, or hand-to-hand combat, is a good idea or not

    No. There is a debate about whether an MMA fighter breaking a soccer mom’s ribs is good HTH training.

    1. No. There is a debate about whether an MMA fighter breaking a soccer mom’s ribs is good HTH training.

      I don’t recall any advocacy for cracking ribs as being part of any training curricula.

    2. So it doesn’t matter if it was an accident? I’ve sprained ankles, wrists, tore muscles, and my brother broke his leg all in training so somehow that must have been the instructors fault? Or because our sensei was to hard core?

      Until you are actually there to observe HOW it happened, you really have nothing to base your opinion on.

  11. I think the real lesson is that “just playing around” gets people hurt. I’ve been told that more then once in the dojo too. Structured training is usually designed to not get you hurt past bruises, once you start doing random stuff at speed it’s easy to misjudge distance/power, particularly when ego gets involved.

  12. Fists can be deadly force under some circumstances.

    Then you are doing it wrong. They should be deadly force in all circumstances where force is used. Otherwise you are just dancing which is usually called mutual combat and is not state approved.

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