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5 Moves That Could Save Your Life

November 01, 2008  |  by Louis Marquez


As a 27-year veteran of law enforcement and as a police trainer with the Police Combative Training Academy in Austin, Texas, I've seen a lot of training fads come and go. I know from experience that simple is better. If you can't execute a technique automatically under stress, it won't do you any good. In fact, it could get you killed. That's why the techniques I teach are simple and effective, and they work for persons of all body types.

As for naming these techniques, just call them counters. You don't need fancy names that sound like military assaults or martial arts attacks. That way if you have to testify in court and explain how you reacted to a threat, you're not going to come across as having a combative type of nomenclature. So I'll just call the first move a counter to a gun grab.

Counter to Gun Grab #1

In this first scenario the officer is interviewing an individual, so he's in an interview stance. His hands are up, elbows tight. Then the individual makes a snatch for the officer's gun.

A key point here is that the officer doesn't panic. He just takes his weapon hand and hangs onto the aggressor's hand. Then he uses his reaction hand (opposite hand of his weapon side) and delivers a strike to the subject's trachea. This blow to the windpipe will most likely end the attack.

You could just as easily hit the jugular notch-the hollow on the neck between the collarbones-if you wanted to. It depends on the aggressiveness of the individual. If the guy is super aggressive, go straight for the trachea. If he's not super aggressive and is just making a half-hearted attempt for the gun, then you might be able to fend him off with a jugular notch strike. They're both very simple and effective.

Because most duty holsters now provide great security, chances of gun grab success are almost nil, but you need to have an effective counter to such an attack just in case.

I don't suggest countering by putting two hands on your gun because that leaves you vulnerable. That leaves the aggressor with one hand free while both of your hands are tied up. Especially if the aggressor is fired up on drugs or alcohol, there's a probability the two-handed defense may not work. You don't want to use any method that doesn't work.

The technique in these photos does work. If you strike anybody's neck, I don't care what they're on, they're going to react; there's no way around it. That's the reason we chose this technique as a counter, versus strikes to the radial nerves or the median nerves of the arms. A lot of people teach that, but it's not 100-percent effective. If your technique's not 100 percent, you don't want to utilize it, because you don't want to take a chance. You want to have a counter that's clean, that's quick, that's fluid, and that works for you.

And again, these techniques work for persons of all body types.


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