CONCEALMENT 6 Escaping Close-Quarters Constraints Conrad Bui Join the Conversation Warning! The concepts shown here are for illustrative purposes only. Seek professional training from a reputable instructor before attempting any techniques discussed or shown in this story. We’ll be the first to admit it. When used by the good guys and gals, weapons are great. Guns, knives, pepper sprays, and tactical pens are not only cool, they may be used to save your life and those of the ones you love. Weapons serve as force multipliers and it makes sense to protect yourself with anything and everything that is within the limits of the law. But how many people follow this up with other combatives courses? It’s a smart move to round out weapons combatives with empty-hand fighting knowledge. The fact of the matter is, not every violent situation calls for the use of a firearm. There are many circumstances where empty-hands combatives is called for. It could be a drunk uncle (see Concealment Issue 5 for, “The ‘Drunk Uncle’ Defense”), you may be with a group of friends against a single assailant, the state you are in might have restrictive concealed carry laws (see RECOIL OFFGRID Issue 18 for, “What If You’re Trapped in a Mass Shooting?), or the attacker may have grabbed you, making your draw risky. In this feature, CONCEALMENT focuses on countering grabs and grappling attacks. As recent as March 2017, an attempted kidnapping of a 13-year-old girl happened just blocks from the author’s home in San Francisco. The suspect grabbed the student and attempted to force her into his car in broad daylight. Lucky for her, two brave bystanders heard her screams, intervened, and stopped the kidnapping. Grabbing attacks are not only common in kidnappings, but can happen whenever an assailant endeavors to control the victim. The grab or hold can be used to pull a victim into a car (as in the case of the female student), to immobilize the victim so their buddies can attack, or the grab may be used simply to intimidate. During any type of grab attack, drawing a weapon (be it a gun, knife, or otherwise) in close range can lead to disaster. Trying to draw a weapon when someone has a handle on your body can quickly result in a struggle for the weapon. You may lose control of your weapon and it may be used against you. But just how easy is it to escape grabs and holds? Concealment brings you the seven “freedom fundamentals” for escaping when things get all touchy feely. Freedom Fundamental One: Safety First Ever wonder why airplane safety demonstrations always tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting another passenger? Unconsciousness makes it very difficult to help yourself, much less another. The same holds true when attacked. Your first move must take into consideration the immediate danger. Take any action you can to protect yourself against the greatest threat first. If a knife is placed at your throat, push it off. If a gun is pointed at you, direct it elsewhere. Someone may have grabbed your shirt to pull you into a punch (hello, hockey fans). Protect yourself from the punch first (drop your chin, get your shoulders and hands up, stat), because the punch, and not the grab, will ruin your day. To stay safe, you may be required to advance toward the attacker for safety and control. Other times, it will be prudent to retreat and run for your life. Whatever that first response is, just make sure to stay conscious. Freedom Fundamental Two: Stay Balanced Still conscious? Good, now get balanced. Balance is paramount when seized by the arm or body and yanked forcefully, to and fro. Without balance, a counteroffensive will be downright challenging. Worse, tumbling to the ground will make the violent situation even more dangerous. How does one stay upright and balanced when being jerked back and forth? Ever try lifting a child who does not want to be carried? It is a lot harder when they center themselves. Same weight, different biomechanics. One way to bust out the “tantrum” stance is to spread your feet apart and lower your center of gravity (or stance). Timing is critical; as soon as you feel the yank, drop your weight right away. It will be difficult (and maybe impossible) to regain your balance if you wait too long. A stable platform will buy you precious seconds to launch a counterattack. Freedom Fundamental Three: KISS “Keep it super simple” is an important principle when responding to sticky fingers. Keeping techniques simple and direct is vital if regular training is not a part of life. We understand that regular and consistent training is an issue for some because of funds, location or just pure laziness (there, we said it). Even if you are committed to regular training (and we hope you are), complicated techniques have too many moving parts and are prone to failure. Combatives instructors who teach complicated techniques forget that adrenaline dumps will make people clumsier than a tiger on Charlie Sheen blood, in a china shop. Let’s say someone grabbed your wrist and arm for an attempted kidnapping. This is a dire situation because going to secondary location will likely mean a dead-end (emphasis on, “dead”). You can attempt that complicated wrist lock learned in an Aikido class during college, or a spinning high kick you remember Bruce Lee doing from your youth; both lead to a low percentage of success. Or you can simply eye gouge the boogeyman with a higher percentage of success (because of fewer moving parts), to gain the requisite distance and safely access your firearm. 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