Training and Physical Limitations

By Roger Phillips, Owner of Fight Focused Concepts

Dedicated to and in Memory of Bobby (Geezer) Weismann

As a student over the years, I have seen this question arise again and again, the very first time I saw the question posed was from my friend Bobby (Geezer) Weismann “What about us?” What about the students that may not be in perfect health? What about those that may have physical limitations due to injury, illness, health issues, and something that we will all have to deal with……age? This is an extremely valid question. Is it not a fact that predators seek out those that appear weaker or that may appear to be softer targets? Since this is a known fact should there be more training opportunities open to those students? Is it not a fact that these students may be in more of a need for training than those in good health?

I believe that the answer is…absolutely!

I believe that a good instructor should be able to work with whatever the student shows up with…..even if this is poor health and physical limitations. As someone who is paid to improve a student’s knowledge base and skill level, an instructor must tailor his teachings to the students needs. Group courses can be a bit difficult and may not produce the optimal results. But an instructor should be able to adjust drills so that the learning process is still moving forward for all of the students….no matter the skill level or the physical ability. If there are limitations in some students the instructor should devise a plan of action that would work best for those students.

As has been set down before…. situations dictate strategies, strategies dictate tactics, and tactics dictate techniques. As we see the “situation” is the defining element. A student’s physical limitation would be a key component inside of that student’s personal “situation.” A good instructor needs to realize this and make adjustments to the curriculum that will benefit these students. One of the biggest adjustments would be in the emphasis on awareness. Being able to identify the threat as early as possible would be of utmost importance for those that have physical limitations. Avoidance is always the main goal and even more so for those with physical limitations. Along with this increased awareness, there needs to be a complete understanding of the concept of “disparity of force.” Physical limitations will have a direct effect on the ability to defend one self. There needs to be an emphasis on knowing ones personal limitations and the “mental trigger” that takes these limitations into account. Their “line in the sand” on when they are willing to use deadly force to protect themselves and their loved ones needs to be very well-defined. This trigger needs to be placed in a situational and logical position inside of the threat assessment. Since this mental trigger is set earlier, there needs to be an ability to articulate your actions inside of a self-defense encounter that highlights your understanding of the disparity of force of the encounter.

Since this trigger needs to be set earlier for those with physical limitations, there needs to be an emphasis on acquiring the tools of self-defense earlier. This relates to the “react as you need to react” portion of the fight continuum. The tools need to be tailored to the individuals needs and the method of carry needs to take the physical limitations into consideration. We all know that a gun in the hand is much better than a gun in the holster. This is even more so for those that have physical limitations. The tactic of having the gun in your hand whenever there is any possibility of danger is a very sound one. This alone can cut your response to the threat in half. The methods of carry and the tools that fit this niche are the key. Small framed guns with an adequate self-defense round (.38 and higher) make this tactic not only feasible, but absolutely solid. The ability to have a small frame gun in a pocket, with the hand on the gun out in the general public is about as prepared as you can legally be. If this tactic is working hand in hand with good awareness you will be in as good a position as possible. You have now adjusted your strategy and tactic to fit into your situation….as it should be.

The shrouded J-frame revolvers are very popular. One of the biggest pluses to this weapon is that you can shoot them from inside of a jacket pocket. This option is the very fastest way to respond to a threat, short of walking around with a gun in your hand at full extension. If you are confronted by a potential adversary, you can have the gun indexed on the targeted area, and possibly with your finger on the trigger, (there are no rules in a fight for your life) all while still concealed. This option cuts out many of the physical aspects of self-defense that are hampered by physical limitations that may be present. You do not have to worry as much about being slower, having poor reflexes, having a slower thought process, not having good mobility, or having poor vision. You have placed yourself in the most advantageous position as is legally possible. This “stacking of the deck” is something that absolutely needs to be considered and addressed due to the disparity of force issues that arise out of having physical limitations.

This brings up the topic of, as Anthony puts it, the roving gun. Having a primary gun with a primary position is always a very good idea. This is the gun that you go to when there is time. It will usually have a higher round capacity and be more accurate at distance. We can call it the primary gun due to these reasons, but the reality is that it may not be the gun that you go to first. The gun that you may go to first may be the small J-frame (or similar type) that is in your hand and inside your pocket. Which pocket will once again be situationally dependent. We have already discussed the jacket pocket and its benefits. This may not be a possibility for some due to weather, or even necessary due to physical limitation evaluation. Carrying with the handgun in your front pants pocket can also be excellent as a convert ready. Once again this gives you “hand on gun” potential and could possibly cut your response time in half. The “cut” of the trousers would be very important in regards to the ability to quickly draw from the front pocket. Jeans may not be your best bet, unless they are adequately “baggy” enough. Trousers with pleated pockets (such as Dockers) facilitate a very fast and sure draw. What is nice about the roving gun concept is that the gun can be placed where ever it may be needed or that makes the most sense. I also carry my J-frame in the appendix position while driving and in my rear pocket for those “give me your wallet” type confrontations. But these forms of carry are not purely dictated by physical limitations.

The small frame guns can also be palmed when the need arises. The palming may be dictated by the size of ones hands. As a person that has smallish hands, I really like the palming technique out of the “Secret Service” position. The gun is held in a firing grip and the support side hand is used to hide it. The hands appeared to just be folded together at the centerline of the belt line in. Checking of your positioning in the mirror will lead to confidence in your ability to pull off this position. For larger hands, palming with the arms hanging or slightly behind the leg can be a very successful tactic.

With the course that I offer, I am consistently asked about the “movement” portion of the course. The students are concerned with the physical demands of the course after they read my writings on the subject. I have trained young strong men, young women, and elderly men. Each of them had a unique physical ability. Each of them had a certain comfort level inside of these abilities. My job is to tailor the concept of movement to each student’s ability and comfort level. Basically everyone gets the same instruction and the same concept’s, it is the application that varies from student to student. This is not just about “move as you need to move” but move as you are capable of moving. Everyone needs to know exactly what they are physically capable of and tailor their training to highlight their strengths, while mitigating their weaknesses. If you are limited in your mobility than adjustments need to be made inside on the movement continuum.

From my experience the biggest problem with those with physical limitations is that they are not able to move dynamically. If those with physical limitations work to improve their awareness, set earlier mental triggers, along with using a carry method that facilitates very quick access to their weapon, they are in a much better position to not have to rely on dynamic movement off of the X. This leaves “stand and deliver” skills and “controlled movement skills.” The stand and deliver skills, inside of the fight continuum, can be extended. If trained correctly, those with physical limitations may find themselves in a lower percentage of “reactive” situations. Along with this lower percentage of reactive situations, there is also the benefit of not finding themselves as far behind in the reactionary curve. Stand and deliver skills become a much more viable defense to those that have no choice but to accept their limited mobility due to their physical limitations.

Controlled movement skills may be the most that some can hope for. In Quartata, side stepping, and “just walking” are skills that can get one off of the X, without the need for athletic ability. As Geezer has said many times, the direction of the movement may also be adjusted to fit with ones physical ability. Moving aggressively forward can possibly take on a much more predominate role. If displacement off of the line of attack is hampered, the aggressive forward drive may be enough to get inside of the adversaries OODA loop. I have witnessed Geezer perform his aggressive forward movement, and when you see it, you know that you are going to have your hands full. This tactic along with the mindset that comes along with it may be exactly what is needed to overcome the physical disparity of force.

Vision is another element that often deteriorates as we age. Alternate sighting methods may be just what is needed to be able to prevail in a life threatening encounter. As my good friend Geezer would say “focus on the threat and eliminate (stop) it.”

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