In my opinion, the one empty-hand tactic that everyone should have in his toolbox is the two-step parry, or, as it's called in the Filipino martial arts, hubud-lubud (literally "to tie and untie").
Hubud combines the natural, instinctive speed of a slapping parry with the power and structure of a forearm block. The version I prefer is also one of the few tactics that can be used to defend against a close-range ice pick-style attack.
Using that attack (specifically, a right-handed version of it) as a stimulus, your first motion would be to lean back slightly as you slap the attacking hand with your left palm, deflecting it a few inches to your right. Your right forearm, hinging at the elbow, now swings upward toward your right shoulder. This creates a powerful wedging action that continues to deflect the incoming strike. Your left palm now checks, strikes, or pushes to drive your attacker off balance and create an opening for a power strike with your right hand.
To combine this technique with the draw and use of a handgun, perform the first two actions as described above. Then, as your left hand strikes or pushes, use the turn of your shoulders to bring your right hand to your gun to draw. Move off line to your left as you draw and immediately command the attacker to drop the weapon as you position yourself for a shot. Be prepared to continue to shoot and move as necessary.
Do Hubud Drills
Although it may seem complicated at first, the movements of hubud are actually very consistent with the instinctive startle response that is hard-wired into all of us. By using this technique to "educate" your startle response, you can have a very powerful defense ready to go at a moment's notice. And the best way to do that is through the drill version of hubud.
First have your training partner strike at you as described above. Execute the first two motions of the technique, and then finish with a moderate left-hand check to your partner's elbow. At this point, you strike in the same way he did. That's his stimulus to do the defense. He does the same thing, concluding with another strike at you and the drill becomes a repetitive cycle. Done properly, this drill not only provides high repetitions, it also can vary in intensity to stimulate adrenal stress. Try it. I'm confident you'll find it's well worth adding to your training and your personal skill set.
Dennis Tueller's observations and research were, in many ways, the impetus for modern, reality-based, force-on-force training. We owe him a great debt for opening our eyes to the true nature of contact-distance attacks. Rather than squandering his wisdom with meaningless "rules" and gun guy clichés, use it to inspire your training and your tactics.
Michael D. Janich, a student and teacher of the martial arts and practical self-defense for more than 30 years, has authored books and magazine articles on personal defense, combat shooting, and other topics.