The Placeholder Workout

It would be nice if every time we did any training – of any type, from BJJ to weight lifting to firearms – we were hitting on all cylinders and our results were awesome every single time. Unfortunately, that is fairly rare, if we are going to be honest with ourselves.

If you keep a training journal (and you should BTW), it does not take long to see that the great workouts are at best occasional, rather than regular. Life has a tendency to get in the way and impacts our ability to perform at top capacity. Some days it almost feels like a waste of time to train. However, those are the days we really need to get the time in.

How do we deal with the frustration though? One way is to look at workouts as two types. The ideal one is when we are flying high. In other words, the good days! For the other times, we need to reframe our mindset from getting better to not getting worse. I refer to those workouts as “Placeholder sessions”.

It is a concept I have heard from many smart and experienced people. Dan John, strength coach extraordinaire, has written extensively about workouts like this, and I remember Paul Sharp of Sharp Defense, trying to impart this wisdom to me more than ten years ago when he emphasized just getting on the mat and doing work no matter what.

Another way to refer to this idea is as “punching the clock”. Like going to work on those tough days and we punch in on our time card and muddle through as best as we can, and then punch out and go home, so we do the workout of whatever type.

Just get the work in. Even if you are not improving, at least you are not back sliding. That is so easy to do. Ask anyone who has taken time off how tough it is to get back to the grind. It is almost an insurmountable obstacle at times, so the best thing to do is not to stop. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other until things improve. Just put in the work.

It is not easy, I know. Believe me, I know. Recently, I went through a family medical issue that essentially required me to either be at work, or at the hospital to be a caregiver. The handful of times I got to my BJJ academy, or the couple of strength workouts I got in, or the handful of dry fire sessions, I can safely tell you with no hyperbole that the results were not particularly enjoyable. However, once the medical issue was resolved and I could put some energy back to use for training, I had an immediate bump in my workout results. Because I did not have to overcome any lulls, I could use the energy and time to actually improve, not just to get back into the game. It made things much easier. A treadmill is easier to stay on than to get on.

So take the concept to heart. Even if you know you are at a low ebb, get a placeholder workout in and be patient. Things will get better, and so will your performance!

A Tip On Running a Double Action Pistol




I am a proponent of traditional double action pistols for my every day carry.

*please note carefully that I said for MY EDC, no one else’s. I have no interest in trying to convince anyone to follow my lead here, and it in no way validates or invalidates my own choices whichever way someone chooses.  I don’t need outside approval, so rock whatever you wish to rock.

One of the reasons is because I carry AIWB (appendix) I prefer having some extra built in safeties – the longer, heavier trigger pull and the external hammer in particular. Actually, for me, those added safeties are a good idea whether I am carrying AIWB or in any other position. The fact that I was just at a major conference where I saw a number of experienced shooters muzzle themselves when holstering at 3 or 4:00 only serves to reinforce that. Having built in redundancy no matter what that needs no conscious activation is a good thing in my eyes.

Another positive for me is that first double action pull really forces my brain to engage to make sure the pull is smooth and consistent. I used to have a trigger snatching problem when I was running striker fired pistols, and that for practical purposes disappears when I run a TDA pistol.

One criticism I have heard is that people can forget to de-cock the gun before reholstering and that can cause a dangerous situation. That could certainly be something to worry about, except one simple tweak can ensure that never happens, and it requires no extra practice time.

As I said, one of the safety mechanisms I like with the TDA gun is the external hammer. The way to use it is that on reholstering, place the thumb of your primary grasping hand on the back of the hammer. That way, if something in the pathway or lodged in the holster causes the trigger to be pulled, your thumb blocks the movement and instantly feels it. Well, that same action also positively ensures that your hammer is de-cocked because you have tactile attachment every single time. The cool thing is you are doing it anyway, so there is no extra training needed to make sure you have that prevention measure in place.

I was taught from day one of my TDA experience (by numerous instructors such as Ernest Langdon and Mike Pannone, but it was Todd Green who was advocating this at least as far back as 2009) to use my thumb this way, and I have never once had an issue with forgetting to de-cock the gun. If you have any interest in running a similar carry gun, give it a try and I think you will find the same thing.

Best of luck, and welcome to the club!

Hypocrisy in Self-defense

I despise hypocrisy. Not only does it lead to wrong actions, it is on a fundamental level intellectually corrupt. Hypocrisy makes it easy to take the path of the lazy man. It is comfortable, so a lot of people settle for it. I think comfort is anathema to truth.

Case in point, the following video:

Once again, we have another video showing BJJ being used successfully in a real life self-defense encounter, to go along with the quite literal hours and hours of similar footage. And so how does this get reconciled with the typical, almost clichéd self-defense mantra that any time you go to the ground in a street altercation, you will always get stomped by the bad guy’s legion of buddies just waiting around to pounce? Because that is what you hear EVERY, SINGLE TIME. A dogmatic, written in stone, the sun comes up in the east, the sky is blue certainty. There is never an expression that maybe; just maybe, there is some time when that won’t happen.

And yet, here we are, AGAIN, viewing footage that is in 100% opposition to what actually is happening right before your eyes. Do the internet experts change their tune? Do they have the intellectually honesty to admit they were wrong? Of course not. This is the internet, where everyone’s knowledge is equal. If you did not see this online posted anywhere you might have missed the comments so let me sum them up in an easy to digest paraphrase – “well, this was stupid. The guy should know how lucky he was the other guys did not jump in and stomp him. This is a perfect illustration of why you don’t go to the ground”………

Seriously. While a paraphrase, that is a 100% accurate summing of the comments. Now, let me be clear. Is that idea – that you need to be aware of multiple actors – a valid and important one? Absolutely and beyond a shadow of a doubt. So why does the constant refrain on groundfighting videos annoy me so much? Because the concept of being aware of multiples is valid no matter what the situation is, but you never, ever hear people say the same critique whenever there is a video where a good guy uses a gun to defend themselves. Anybody who has studied this for any time at all will have seen case after case of multiple bad guys killing a lone good guy with a gun. Instead, any failure there is chalked up to either 1) he should have been a better shot or 2) it just was not his day. But if there is a win? No critique at all. Case in point:


Find any place where this clip is posted, and you will not once hear a single person make the same comment about the good guy being lucky another party does not jump him from behind. Even though both of these citizens were hyper focused on the bad guy and never looked around for a back up robber. But it’s all good. No need to critique at all in regards to the possibility. Not once. And why not? What miraculous thing happens when you are not grappling with another person? Do you magically get the power to be all-knowing and all-seeing? Of course not. You are subject to, and just as likely to succumb to, the same target focus whether you are on the ground or on your feet shooting. In fact, with a quick web search, we can come up with multiple accounts of just that, with the good guy shooter attacked and often killed from another attacker who was behind.

So why the discrepancy? Because it is easier to try to imply that grappling is more dangerous and that gives people an out so they don’t have to do the work, or it gives an excuse to instructors who cannot teach that context because they have no background in it. Personally, I find that repugnant, and that is why I spend the time for my own well being to work grappling, distance shooting, et al to my personal matrix. Others can do what they want, but please, don’t be a blatant hypocrite about it. Be honest. It’s good for the soul.

New Course Offering – Just Enough Jitsu

Just Enough Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu For Everybody


I get it. We martial arts people went too far. Without meaning to, and with only the best of intentions, we tried to turn you into little jiu-jitsu clones but we know now you are not going to do that. You have busy lives, you have families, you have life going on, and you aren’t going to buy a uniform, sign up to join a gym, and you are not going to train five days a week for hours at a time. But that does not mean you should not get the benefit of what we have learned and you should not have to suffer for our selfishness. At Immediate Action Combatives, we have removed all the barriers leaving you just enough to help you be safer without committing ten years of your life to that pursuit. This short course specifically welcomes every single person who thought Brazilian Jiu-jitsu could never be for them, but who also know that need some of it to be safer and to be more capable of defending themselves and their loved ones.

Who is this course designed for? Quite literally, EVERYONE.  It does not matter age, sex, physical condition, experience level – everyone can benefit from this material. Guaranteed. Or you will be refunded your tuition. That is a promise.


What is covered in this two to three hour module:


Break falls – easy to learn and easy to apply simple methods to not get hurt if you get knocked down, pushed down, or just fall

Technical stand up – simple to learn methods and all variations to do so for everyone regardless of physical issues or environmental situations

Standing up against pressure – How to get back to your feet when the attacker does not want you to and actively tries to keep you down

Protecting yourself on the ground when you can’t get up – Staying conscious and mobile when you are stuck on the ground in a horizontal position

Fighting back when you can’t get up – fundamental ways to take the fight to the bad guy when you are on the ground


More Talk About Staying In Your Lane 2018 edition





Once again I stumbled across a firearms instructor online who is talking about integrating grappling into a firearms context.  While I am all for others recognizing and publicly talking about the absolute need to have some functional  ability in this area, unfortunately it all too often gives me a bad case of heartburn when I see it.


To be clear, the more dialogue and discussion about this the better because I don’t know that we have all the answers yet, and I always hold out the expectation that the stuff I do can be improved upon. But to engage in that kind of discussion, both parties need some depth and breadth of experience to truly understand it and to attempt to figure out best practices.


What tends to happen though is that weapon integrated grappling is so relatively new, and such a complex skill set, that few people have the ability to truly comprehend the variables and fine points, and even fewer have taken time to actually work it under authentic conditions (rolling around a few times with friends who know as little as you about this DOES NOT COUNT towards understanding – period ) and so a good number of those who discuss it have no clue what they are saying.


For example, those who don’t know much  will almost always trot out the “sport grappling” label pretty quickly. Why is that wrong? Because they can’t tell you what it means! First of all, they have never done any “sport grappling” so how can they possibly know what it entails? The answer is that they don’t. You know how to prove that? The next time you see that mentioned online somewhere, ask them what is the difference between “combative” grappling and “sport” grappling outside of specific context. Be prepared for a bunch of nonsense and straw man crap, because they have no clue at all. They cannot answer the question factually, and they certainly cannot answer it succinctly. You can’t talk clearly about what you do not know.


Entangled fighting, especially on the ground is the single most complex aspect of combat, and this complexity is exacerbated by virtue of the fact that it is also has the most variables, and those variables can be measured sometimes in tiny increments, and can change completely in the blink of an eye. Here is the quickest illustration I know of – if two people are engaged in a gunfight at 10 yards, having one of the parties move their elbow two inches will most likely will not have the slightest impact of the results of the shootout. On the ground and entangled, moving your elbow two inches is quite literally and with zero hyperbole the difference between life and death.  If someone is trying to teach grappling and they cannot understand that, then they have no business even throwing in an opinion in any way.


Why does it bug me so much? Mostly because of the implied narcissism inherent in someone who knows little pretending to know much, and who puts out false information that may very well get a good person injured or killed. It is also a screaming insult to those who have put in the time to study it, and having someone whose resume consists of getting certified after taking a five day grappling course, playing around with a few others on occasion who know just as little, and teaching a couple of moves  to people who have never done any grappling try to pontificate about things like best practices or training methods is nauseating.


If I turned it around, and had the same exact resume, but instead of grappling, made it shooting, how many of these top instructors would take me seriously? How many would graciously engage in a sociable discussion?  We all know the answer – ZERO. Not only would they not take me seriously, they would rage publicly and privately to all who would listen about these “new tactical gun instructors who know nothing but want to be on the same level as us! How dare they?” All I ask is that they look in the mirror first before speaking on things they really should remain quiet about.


How Much Have You Actually Trained?



There is a trick some instructors do in the self-defense/tactical community to make their training bio seem more impressive or give them more gravitas in an argument. For want of a better descriptor, that trick can be referred to as “padding the resume”.

The typical way it is applied is this: the instructor, to boost their standing in getting across their point in a debate will say something along the lines of “I have been training / practicing xyz for 20 years”. The other person in the debate, without that level of training, often will then acquiesce to the point. The problem is the instructor has NOT been training in the subject matter in the way he implies.

It comes up quite a bit when firearms trainers discuss unarmed aspects of fighting. Talking about entangled fighting for instance, this kind of trainer will let everyone know he has been doing Brazilian Jiu-jitsu for 20 years so when he says something, it seems proper. However, the truth is not quite as he portrays. What actually has occurred is that the instructor took a weekend BJJ seminar 20 years ago, has watched MMA since then, maybe actually joined a BJJ academy for 3 or 4 months 8 years ago, and just watched a video clip of Craig Douglas showing an aspect of entangled fighting in a weapons based environment.

I submit to you that while the time of 20 years when all that occurred did pass, that is not “training for 20 years” as any reasonable person will view it. What that is, instead, is about half a year of actual training spaced out over 20 years.  When the person on the other side of the debate actually has been consistently and regularly doing BJJ (or MMA, or Sambo, of Muay Thai, or whatever H2H methodology), the argument level is not equal in any way shape or form.

Just as someone who “started hunting when he was 5, did some skeet shooting as a teenager, and then took a CCW class when he was 40” has not been actively training shooting for 35 years the way someone who is on the range and pulling the trigger almost daily is doing it.

Caveat Emptor. Make sure the instructor gives his full bio with details, not just what he wants you to know.