Worst Case Scenario Prep




The fundamental focus of both my own training as well as any course I teach is to start with a “worst case scenario” approach to the problem. That tends to be somewhat unique.

Most of the time in the training community – whether gun focused or martial art centric – there is a tendency to train for most optimal situations or to assume that the attacker is of the lowest common denominator type. This usually manifests itself with an obsession with things like pre-emptive striking or having your hand already on your gun, or planning on the attacker quitting at the first bit of offense from the good guy.

Now, don’t misconstrue what I am saying. All those things are more than possible. Is there a time when you are prepared for the attack because your pre-fight threat containment strategies were working at 100%? Sure, and you can throw that awesomely cool preemptive hammerfist, or that you will be able to start with your hand on that j-frame in your pocket, or that the bad guy runs screaming as soon as he realizes you are willing to resist. Those things certainly happen. SOMETIMES. Often, the exact opposite happens and we are taken by surprise and cannot be prepped to do our counter attack, and many times the guy assaulting us is a violent criminal actor who thrives on violence and is used to and is inured to combat and instead of fleeing, he doubles down on the attack.


The problem is that if we have spent our training time based on favorable assumptions and those assumptions are shattered and not present, we will suffer, badly. Perhaps even die.

Here is the advantage to spending most of your training time under worst case scenarios. You are far more likely to prevail when it is just such a situation, but if it ends up being one of the more optimal times, then your results are even easier. Building the ability to fight against someone who is trained and dedicated to making you lose allows you to deal with exactly that, but gives you a large margin of error against the lowest common denominator attacker. Maybe the criminal is 3 yards away and moving towards me with a knife in his hand and I can easily put rounds into his upper chest, but if he is farther away, say 20 yards, with a gun threatening my family and the only target he presents is his head, and I have never shot at anything smaller than a B27 at 5 yards, I stand to blow that shot. On the other hand, if I have tested myself by shooting B8s at 25 yards and I can consistently hit in the black, any closer shot is cake.

I want to stack the odds in my favor as much as possible with limited training time. I want to suffer as much in training as possible so when it comes time to fight, everything is as close to easy as I can make it. I cannot afford to waste a moment on an easy scenario when I leave myself vulnerable to the hard scenarios. Train for the worst case, and you are also prepared for the far easier one, but the reverse is not true.

Recommendation Monday #6

I am a huge fan of the SIRT laser training pistol. It is incredibly useful for dry fire practice, and for drilling force-on-force integrated H2H methods safely but still having some concept of results (seeing the laser on the other person’s body), and it is great to ingrain the ability to shoot consistently from the #2 or #3 position.




Here is a video showing it in action:



I get ZERO benefit from anyone buying one.  I have no interaction with anyone at Next Level and am not compensated in any way. I just think the product rocks.

Fight Lessons From Marciano

When I first got interested in boxing (circa 1980), I was a huge fan of Rocky Marciano. It was easy to be that because he was the only undefeated heavyweight champ, and he was a spectacular knock out puncher.  As I went deeper into my dive into all things boxing, that fandom of Marciano went to the back burner because there was a big shift in boxing writers during that period who were reassessing his status. He went from being considered one of the best to being at best thought of as “meh”. In other words, over rated. So there were decades many people, including myself, ignored his accomplishments.

Fortunately, this has changed over the past few years. Partly with the advent of old fight footage being easily accessible to everyone online, people started to take a closer look again at the Rock. I started watching some of his fights and with the eyes of what I like to think is someone who is smarter at seeing things, and realized how amazing he truly was. Not only as a boxer, but for the lessons we can learn for real world fighting and self-defense.

For sure he hit hard, which is obviously a good thing for defending ourselves, but he had other positives as well. For one, most of his punches where incredibly tight and economical. Yes, he would at times make big looping swings, but those were on occasion. Watch the majority of his strikes. They moved in tight, explosive arcs and the impact was incredible. Every single opponent he ever fought always remarked that every time a punch from Rocky landed, it hurt. His right uppercut especially was a thing of beauty.

He was also the hardest worker in boxing. He never was out of shape.

His defense is vastly underrated. Yes, he got hit a lot, but he was also one of the shortest heavyweights ever, with really, really short arms. He had to get much closer and get through the wave of punches from taller opponents with longer reaches (he rarely had that advantage in any of his 49 fights). So of course he is going to get hit a good deal, but it is far less than people realize considering all his disadvantages. And this is a truly pertinent concept for us in a self-defense context.

I could go on and on, but instead, watch this video, and just look at some of the things I mentioned and enjoy watching a great fighter.


Context – the Emperor of the Fight



It does not take long to become involved in the self-defense community before you came across the most ubiquitous argument around – what technique is best?

This debate takes many, many forms. From the classic martial art version of “my wing chun bil jee can defeat your grappling takedown”, to the gun-centric one of “you can’t see your sights under stress so point shooting is the only way”, the often rancorous discussions rage all over cyber space. So many of us waste so much time discussing these things when in truth, when the truth it is almost irrelevant  The simple fact is, that most of the techniques being promulgated will work in some fashion. The debate over the majority of them is a waste of time. What truly matters, and what trumps every single technique, is context.

There is a plausible and very possible context in which the most favored technique/tactic/ procedure will be the absolute wrong thing to do, and an equally plausible context in which it is good and valid. We have all heard the absurdist extreme version of this – what would you rather have in a fight, a hand grenade or a knife? Well, at distance a hand grenade looks pretty useful but in a phone booth it is inferior to the blade.

Let’s look at a gun related example of this. There are a number of different ready positions that different experts will advocate. The Low Ready is very popular and can work well. However, if you are in an active shooter situation in a public place, say a shopping mall, then using the low ready will cause you to sweep a lot of innocents with your muzzle. In that case, perhaps something like SUL, where the gun is brought close to the chest and the muzzle point downwards may be far better. But what if you are getting out of a vehicle? Then a downwards facing muzzle may cause you to point the gun at parts of your own body! In that case, something like a Temple Index may be a better choice. But wait! What if you are on the bottom floor of your home and on the floor above you are your children? Muzzling them can safely be described as not a good thing. So are any of those ready positions bad? No, there are contexts in which each of them are the best choice, and contexts where each is the opposite.

Let’s look at another view of this concept. Take the standard dogma of “Don’t Go to the Ground in a Street fight” because the other guy’s friend will come up and kick you in the head. In that context, that piece of advice is spot on! But what if you are in an environment where it is only you and the other guy? Does that not change the dynamic? What about an environment where you are on unstable footing like ice covered concrete? Is trying to explosively maneuver against an attacker there particularly smart? There is a pretty high likelihood you will go down anyway and maybe in an uncontrolled way where you do extra damage to yourself.  In another vein, what if you are not by yourself? What if, instead, you have five of your MMA training partners with you? Perhaps they may have a say in keeping others from kicking your head in? Again, as with the pistol ready position example, there are contexts in which going to the ground is foolish in the extreme, and other contexts in which it is a damn fine idea.

Note that in this entire article I have not made a statement as to which of these things is always the perfect solution. Because, depending on context, they all are.

So the next time you are all charged up ready to argue if your favored technique or tactic or procedure is the “best”, maybe pause for a second to see if the context is appropriate.

Recommendation Monday #4

I am a huge fan of Stoicism.

I was first introduced to it in college when I took a two semester course on the history of Rome and learned about Emperor Marcus Aurellius . A fascination with him led me to dig deep into other stoics and that has continued. I have read all the classics as well as many of the modern commentaries on them. Some are excellent, and others are not as useful or easy to read. Perhaps the best one I have found is this one:

The Daily Stoic is a daily short read that gives you actionable tips on how to better your life. My close friend William April gave me a copy a couple of years ago as a Christmas present, and I have since bought the kindle version, as well as copies for important people in my life. Do yourself a favor and snag a copy for yourself.

The Yay or Nay of Grappling Dummies

I get a good number of emails and PMs asking me advice on solo training, especially for grappling. One of the recurring themes is if a grappling dummy is a good piece of gear?

For those who are unfamiliar with them, a grappling dummy is sort of like a heavy bag with limbs. There are different ones, but they tend to look like this:



While I hate to try to stop people from doing training, my attitude is that putting time into a grappling dummy is that the juice that is not worth the squeeze.

Here is the problem – to get a good one that is rugged enough and is shaped in a way to be useful, you have to spend a boat load, generally around $500 or so. But you are only getting a tiny fraction of performance out of it that you can’t get solo. Most of what is unable to do solo needs to be done against a resisting opponent with aliveness and ambiguity, and the dummy gives you no help at all in that regard. For example, the hard part of doing a duckunder (a hugely important move to defeat the other person’s arms and to set up takedowns, clinch control, or to take the back) is

1) The proper mechanics of a level change and keeping your heard vertical

2) Seeing or setting up the opening to do the move and

3) Finishing while the other guy reacts.


So to make sure you have the move down, the first part can be done shadow boxing, and the other two parts need a moving opponent. That’s not to say you can’t do the shadow boxing (or shadow wrestling in this case) on the dummy, but it is not needed and you have spent $500 to boot. Working armdrags (or something similar like a 2on1) on a dummy is fractionally better and more useful because to do a drag you have to actually grasp an arm, but again, is that worth the money?

I do think there is one specific time a dummy is worthwhile. If you truly live in an area where you are more than an hour travel from a BJJ/Judo/Sambo/Wrestling gym, AND you have had some hands on training (as in a short course like ECQC, Paul’s MDOC, my courses, or similar), then having a dummy will be the best you can do as far as an opponent for the bulk of your practice. Then it is a good investment. It is a bad investment IMO if you have not had the hands on coaching. Trying to learn any kind of entangled fighting through DVDs or YouTube is useless, so again no need to spend the cash on a dummy.

If you have one, or can get one inexpensively, then by all means use it. But don’t drop lots of cash on something that won’t fully return the investment.