A suspect in close proximity to an approaching officer unexpectedly reaches for a handgun in his waistband. The officer's sidearm is holstered. Because action beats reaction, the perpetrator is likely to outdraw the officer, something that is borne out by the numbers.
Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) 2004 statistics indicate that a perpetrator can deploy a handgun from his waistband in as little as one-third of a second. In stark contrast, FLETC notes the average officer's reaction time to counter-draw a weapon is between two and four seconds.
• The NYPD's 2010 LEOKA report underscores that 55% of officers killed were within 0-5 feet of the assailant.
• The FBI Unified Crime Report 1980-2010 corroborates a similar number of 53% of officers killed within five feet of an assailant.
This is where Police Krav Maga techniques can give the officer the upper hand.
Police Krav Maga Benefits
Police Krav Maga (Police KM) provides for an all-important defensive tactics (DT) multiplier effect by establishing a few core techniques that can handle myriad threats. Great tactical minds usually think alike. Whatever your martial arts or DT background, Police KM can likely add an additional option to your repertoire. These street-proven tactics derive from the original Israeli Krav Maga Association curriculum overseen by current Grandmaster Haim Gidon in Israel. Core Police KM tactics:
➢ work reasonably for any officer regardless of size, strength, or athletic ability;
➢ utilize economy of motion without telegraphing the officer's intent/strategy;
➢ are flexible enough to work against families of attacks. For example, the same defensive tactic will work against a hook punch, a hooking edged-weapon stab, an overhead edged-weapon stab, or an edged-weapon slash;
➢ work against determined, concerted resistance or immediate counter-tactics. In other words, the tactics will work against an adversary who is trained in martial arts or hand-to hand combat;
➢ have a high likelihood of keeping the officer safe, along with avoidance of combatives, anatomical targeting, or holds that could be viewed as violating objectively reasonable force.
In this article, I present a defense that is highly effective in disarming a perpetrator who, pre-deployment, has gotten the drop on an officer and is reaching for a handgun in his front waistband. This tactic demonstrates Police KM's essential principles to turn such a harrowing situation in your favor.
Four Essential Components of Krav Maga's Firearm Defense Philosophy
Disarming an assailant with a firearm is obviously extremely difficult and dangerous. If there is no choice but to attempt a disarm, krav maga's firearm defenses mandate:
1. Redirecting/deflecting the line of fire, combined with a body defense.
2. Controlling the firearm whenever possible, moving deep to the deadside while stunning and neutralizing the assailant.
3. Understanding "time in motion"—or what the gunman's reaction will be the instant you react.
4. Disarming the assailant and creating distance, maintaining control of the firearm.
For any type of defensive tactics, when you as the officer are caught in a position of disadvantage, to help close the action-reaction gap, you must possess the ability to instantaneously recognize threat patterns. Coupled with a trained response, this overcomes the body's startle response and processing delay by preventing the cerebral cortex (the thinking part of the brain) from hijacking the situation.
When contending with a threat, you want the cerebral cortex inhibited or shut off. This allows for an optimal instinctive/instantaneous trained response. The subconscious mind can process 500,000 times faster than the conscious (thinking) mind. In short, an officer's confidence in instinctive reality-based training can delay or prevent the triggering of the sympathetic nervous system's (SNS) deleterious signals that compromise an officer's immediate (re)action.
Keep in mind that FLETC also indicates that the majority of all felons carrying a weapon do so in their front waistband. (Please note the following tactic could be used against an edged weapon, if the officer does not feel s/he can gain a safe distance to deploy a firearm.) As soon as you see the threat reaching for a weapon, move instantaneously to decisively stun him while controlling his weapon hand and pinning it to his body.
You must take into account that your grip and subsequent control of the handgun could slip. Therefore, to cope with the situation, your removal of the weapon may have to be modified such as removing it from underneath a garment. Also keep in mind, the assailant is not going to cooperate and may instinctively retract his arm. To properly time any disarming technique you must understand "time in motion"—both yours and his—or how a body instinctively reacts to a stimulus.
More Krav Maga from David Kahn
David Kahn is the author of multiple books: Krav Maga (2004), Advanced Krav Maga (2008), Krav Maga Weapon Defenses (2012), Krav Maga Professional Tactics (2016), Krav Maga Defense (2016), and Krav Maga Combatives (2019) with his latest work Krav Maga Fight Strategies due for publication in late 2020. He also produced the four-volume Mastering Krav Maga DVD series, along with the Mastering Krav Maga Online program, www.masteringkravmaga.com, featuring more than 520 videos. David Kahn may be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you close the distance to the gunman, try to cant your body to the side—off the line of attack—not directly in front of the gunman. If possible, use your entire forearm in tandem with your hand to pin and drive your forward momentum and body weight against his gun arm while simultaneously delivering one or more forceful distraction strikes to the assailant's head.
Note the importance of strong, effective distraction strikes prior to attempting any disarm. In Police KM's methodology, when facing a deadly force encounter, an assailant's head should be viewed as a main computer controlling a machine. Short-circuit the main computer, and you disable the machine, in this case, his body. A strong distraction strike could be a closed fist (only recommended in a deadly force encounter), an open palm-heel, or even a throat strike (only permissible in a deadly force encounter.)
Securing the Weapon
Assuming that the assailant is reaching for the handgun with his right hand (which 85% of the population is likely to do), secure the weapon by keeping your weight pressed against his right wrist with your left forearm, while clamping down with your left hand on the back of the assailant's hand.
To begin the disarm, keep both of your hands securely attached to the assailant's right wrist and hand.
Use a modified osoto-gari leg trip takedown by raising your right leg and stepping forcefully between the back of the assailant's legs to buckle his right leg. Drive him to your left corner (his right corner), not directly backward.
As he collapses to the ground, his momentum will dislodge the weapon from his waistband. Be sure not to release the weapon and his hand as you take him to the ground with the barrel pointing at him. Remove the handgun and control it as necessary. Follow up with your agency's DT standard operating procedure.
David Kahn serves as U.S Chief Instructor for the Israeli Krav Maga Association (IKMA) and runs Police Krav Maga instructor certification courses and programs throughout North America. He has trained more than 250 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and trains all branches of the U.S. military.