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Firearms and the Martial arts

Over the years I have had many firearm specialty courses. These have been with top ranked instructors with years of hands on tactical training and real world crisis experience.

There seems to be a division between the Martial Arts practitioners and the Gun guys. I never understood this. They are one in the same is so many ways. And the ethical issues are exactly the same.

Well taught firearms courses will always address the moral and legal issues of pulling the trigger or just presenting the firearm as a threat. This is a real feather in their cap for instilling social and society stability and just plain good common scene.

The Martial Arts tend to gloss over the hard facts and realities of what a skilled person will do to another person’s body during an encounter. Whether they win or lose, both persons are likely to take serious damage and this damage raises legal and ethical issues. In schools with children the mantra is “no fighting” but this is rarely mentioned in adult schools.

Martial and Firearms schools both teach don’t get pulled into the fight unless you absolutely have to. They also teach if you must fight, fight to win. Both these are sound principles. One thing the firearms schools will do is force on force training using verbal skills. Not many martial arts schools deal with this. This is a shortcoming for the MA schools. Learning good body posture that says “I am not a victim” can greatly enhance your success in an encounter as well as being able to use your commanding voice to halt the escalation of a conflict is well worth the training.

The harmony aspect of the Martial Arts lays a foundation for incremental levels for handling a physical altercation. One way this is possible is that if someone punches at you, you can block or move out of the way. Not always possible but the option does/may exist. Firearms present a unique situation in that if they are fired then all the force is 100% active and you have no option to block. You may be able to move out of the way but that is a function of the shooters skill and your cover/concealment options, but in truth once a firearm goes off the conflict is absolute. “Run Away” is typically taught as the first option in an impending firearm encounter. This may or may not be effective but if you do delay beyond the threshold of implied threat to active threat your chances of diffusing or escaping the encounter without serious injury or death greatly diminishes.

In this respect the Martial Arts allow the student to meet force with different levels of force. The old adage; don’t kill if you can maim, don’t maim if you can injure, and don’t injure if you can diffuse comes more into play with the hand arts. Using edge weapons or large blunt force weapons can greatly change this dynamic but in reality our culture of the U.S., Europe, and other developed nations the odds of us having a long edged weapon or any stick beyond a cane is not likely.

There is a misnomer in the belief that if you get in a hand-to-hand altercation that you must fight. The moral and ethical decisions between deciding to diffuse the situation or to try and beat down the opponent are complex. And if you add the compounding factor of having family with you the decision becomes even more complex.

This article is not meant to cover all the social, political, and legal aspects of an encounter. What I have tried to present is that two schools of thought tend to exist between the Gun Guys and the Martial Arts group. If you take the opportunity to reflect on both perspectives you may find that the two schools both wish to achieve the same outcome; your own self preservation. How that is accomplished may vary but in either case a student must learn many different techniques for trying to stop an encounter as well as what outcome may result after an encounter.