Pattern Training -vs- Pattern Recognition Training

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

In the world of firearms training there is a huge emphasis towards pattern training. This started back in the 1950’s and is still very much alive today in the vast majority of firearms training that is available. Pattern training makes sense if you are trying to force fit large groups of people into a specific system. But it makes very little sense if you are trying to make the individual fighter the very best that they can be. Pattern training is easy to teach. If everyone is taught the same pattern, there is no need to tailor anything to the individual. This allows for the material to be presented in a manner that just barely scratches the surface. If there is no depth…..there is no need to look deep or to have a deeper understanding. For the instructor this is the easy way out and It is also the easy way out for the student.

If we are talking about matters of “life and death” is taking the easy way out really a good idea?

Before we get into this too far, let’s take a look at some of the things that make up pattern based training;

1.Prioritizing the performance or philosophy of one draw stroke
2.Prioritizing the performance or philosophy of one form of movement
3.Prioritizing the performance or philosophy of one direction of movement
4.Prioritizing the performance or philosophy of one response at the onset of the fight
5.Prioritizing the performance or philosophy of one method of aiming
6.Prioritizing the performance or philosophy of one “string of fire”
7.Holstering up the exact same way every time
8.Training in anything that is not connected to the mental aspect of the fight or that is not connected to common sense
9.Training in anything that is taught as “always” “never” or anything else that is definitive.
10.Training in anything that is “robotic” and does not allow for fluidity, adaptation, or versatility
11.After action drills that are nothing more than mindless patterns with very little connection to the mental aspect of the fight

Straight up, training in something that is ingrained as a pattern, can be very dangerous. It can be dangerous to you and to everyone around you when you are training or fighting.

I have done a lot of pattern training in the past and I have also trained with a lot of people who have done a lot of pattern training. Inevitably, when you get down to advanced fight focused training you find that there are many patterns that simply must be dumped. A lot of this training originally did not start off as a pattern. It became a pattern as the student would try to emulate the instructor’s minutia. On doing this, a certain “coolness” factor became part of the equation. A lot of the robotic pattern training that I have received and witnessed was taken to extremes due to “the coolness factor” and wanting to look like the instructor. Pattern training seems to take on a life of its own, especially when Guru Worship is involved.

In reality, this has very little to do with fighting! As a matter of fact, this will probably not allow you to be the very best that you can be because you are simply copying out of coolness……..not optimizing out of common sense.

The bottom line on pattern training is that it is not attached to the common sense of conscious thought. The only way to be the very best that we can be is to train in the common sense of conscious thought through pattern recognition training.

Pattern recognition training is very different from pattern training. Pattern recognition training attaches every physical skill set to the mental aspect of the fight. Everything that we do is attached to the common sense of conscious thought. Our responses are dictated by the situation.

The situation cannot be controlled by a pattern as well as it can be controlled by fluid skill sets customized for the situation.

As we train on the square range, we need to use visualization to begin the pattern recognition programming. When we step up to the line, we should be painting ourselves a picture of the situation. We should be pulling ourselves into the reality of that visualized moment.

1.The adversary is this close
2.I am that far behind in the reactionary curve
3.This is how I would feel
4.This is how I would respond (including going hands on)
5.This is how I need to take off
6.This is my retention reality
7.This is how I need to draw
8.There is my cover, my exit from the fight, or my advantageous position
9.This is how fast I am able to move to guarantee combat accurate hit
10.This is what I would need to be able to see inside of the entirety of the situation
11.This is how I would need to work my grip and trigger to guarantee combat accurate hits

We work this stuff over and over again, creating situation after situation in our minds eye. We push the limitations and make adjustments. We run it again and again until we get it perfect.

Then we push the limitations even further. We learn as much as we can possibly learn about ourselves inside of a huge portion of the fight continuum. We nail down our pattern recognition to the point that we are able to run our programmed responses at the subconscious level……..yet still attached to the common sense of conscious thought……because that is the way we programmed it.

We then take that same pattern recognition programming into force on force (FOF). We test our pattern recognition responses against live, thinking, adapting, and resisting adversaries. We solidify what worked and discover what needs to be re-evaluated. We learn the difference between what we can do on the square range and what we can do in FOF. This also allows us to see what the attack really looks like so that our visualization is improved when we return to the square range to refine our pattern recognition.

As you progress in your skill sets, you need to take this pattern recognition training into low light. In low light your whole world will change. You will have to relearn all of your low light limitation levels. That is just the reality of the beast.

Pattern recognition training is all about confidence. It is about obtaining confidence in your abilities because no matter what the situation……you have been there and you have done that. You know exactly what you have to do to guarantee the hits while doing whatever needs to be done so that you do not get hit.

Patterns can get you killed! Patterns can get innocents killed! When you see training that emphasizes patterns that should throw up a huge red flag. Be very careful to not confuse mindless patterns with solid immediate action drills. Solid immediate action drills are ingrained through the common sense of conscious thought. Pattern training has no place inside of fight focused training. Everything that we do needs to be connected to the common sense of conscious thought, then worked to the point that it is ingrained at the sub-conscious level. This can easily be done through pattern recognition training.

“Hand on the Gun”

By Roger Phillips, Operator and Owner of Fight Focused Concepts

 The “hand on the gun” concept is the concept of having a gun in one of your front pockets with a firing grip already on the gun. This concept is one of the many things that I teach inside of my “Fighting at Night” courses and one of the most deadly dirty tricks that there are.

In this discussion I would like to concentrate on the gun in the front pocket of your pants, not on the gun in the jacket pocket.

When the hand is already on the gun you can reduce your draw stroke time 50%. So if I have a .75 draw stroke (and I do) I can achieve around a .37 -.38 draw stroke. Not bad considering that Jelly Bryce had a .43 draw stroke and Bill Jordan had a .22 draw stroke.

When things do not look right, having the ability to put the hand in the pocket and acquire a firing grip, without anyone being the wiser that you just completed 50% of your draw stroke is a huge advantage. When you work this with the “flashlight in the hand” concept it makes for some devastatingly dirty night fighting tricks. A .38 draw stoke combined with a blinding white light borders on being as easy as shooting fish in a barrel (if you don’t believe me come on out to my Low Light FOF courses and you will be made a believer.)

The point of this thread is to nail down the optimal hardware to go along with this optimal tactic. I would like to hear what others are doing, using, tried, found to have worked well, or found to have not worked well…….and why.

We all know that a J-frame is not an optimal weapon. But when it is used inside of its proper context it can be pretty close to being optimal. As it stands my “go to” “hand on the gun” weapon is my J-frame. The gun already has its niche as my non-permissive environment (NPE) deep concealment gun, so I do get a very significant amount of training with it. Since I do like consistency across categories it also doubles as my “go to” “hand on the gun” weapon.

I carry my J-frame in a Garrity leather right-handed pocket holster. The gun disappears in NPE’s and is smoking fast out of the pocket, as long as it is already in my hand. It is not that quick in a reactive draw stroke, but then again, the vast majority of times that I carry my J-Frame it is as a secondary to my G19 (all except NPE’s)

My “gun in the hand” training is predominately about getting the J-frame into action, emptying it into the adversary, then tossing it on the deck and transition to my G19.

I know there are some fine pocket semis out there such as the Rohrbaugh, but the number you can depend on or are actually small enough to draw well from the front pocket seems to be quite low. I own a G26 and would love to find a way to have this work well from my pocket, but have yet to see a solution that allows that huge Block to not print horribly or be drawn well…… unless I am wearing an appropriate pair of cargo shorts. They often have huge pockets.

As it stands here is my current setup. I carry my full size Glock appendix at the 1:00. My pocketed J-frame is in my right front pocket. There is plenty of room for both guns.

My J-frame may become the secondary gun, but the draw stroke from a pocket really sucks unless you have put your “hand on the gun” before the gunfight even starts.

The “hand on the gun” concept is one where the J-frame is actually my primary and my full size Glock becomes the secondary, when there is a possibility of proactive gun fight. The hand goes to the gun as I try to make the ID or stop the encroachment. The plan is to dump five rounds into the bad guy, dump it on the ground, and go to the full size Glock. By having the hand on the gun, I cut my draw stroke in half and can be legally “off-sides” without any risk of brandishing charges.

If you break away from thinking about the pocket gun as your secondary in a reactive gunfight and look at it as a way to be “off-sides” during a proactive gun fight many of the problems with the draw stroke become no issue.

I am about 95% ambidextrous, it would be 100% if it were not due to actual physical damage to the left hand. But even then, I tend to start fighting on the right side just due to the realities of the loss of fine motor skills when you are in a reactive gunfight. I can access my appendix Glock with either hand quite easily.

The “hand on the gun” is a concept and there are varying levels of readiness.

1) Hand on the gun with gun in holster

2) Hand on gun with gun partially out of holster

3) Hand on gun with gun nearly all the way out of the holster

4) Hand on gun with gun completely out of the holster yet still in the pocket

5) Gun in hand and out of the pocket, hidden by palming, behind the leg, in the Secret Service stance, with folded arms, and out of the Jack Benny.

6) Gun in hand and in the action!

Yellow……Orange……Red…….and black.

Being off sides is a very good place to be, especially when nobody knows that you are not just off sides………you are WAY off sides!

Let’s discuss this and build the ideal solution……a solution that will allow the “gun in the hand” to be the most ruthless of the dirtiest of tricks.

The “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of Open Carry Part VI

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

“A serious look at making the open carry operator as squared away as they can possible be”
I want to reiterate this as the point of these series of articles.

They are not designed to say that open carry is a bad decision or that concealed carry is the only way to go. They were designed to move the open carry debate past being run and dominated by political activists that admittedly knew nothing about self-defense and had no training in what they were screaming from the roof tops. As a self-defense Instructor that was serious about my trade and craft, the perpetuation of this dangerous ignorance left me utterly disgusted by those that did not care enough about their followers to even do the smallest amount of study into the art of self-defense with a firearm. It took years to get the political activist to stop screaming from the roof tops with the perpetuation of their undeniable and dangerous ignorance.

On the same token these articles were not designed to entice the closed mind “always conceal” people to jump in and demonstrate their ignorance on the reality of open carry in this country. There are many places around this country where open carry has been absolute acceptable for a very long time. There are also many places where open carry is the only option to legally carry a gun. There are also places where open carry simply makes good sense, even if it is not all that common.

The point of the articles is to point out that fact that if you carry a gun (open or concealed) you should know exactly what you are getting yourself into and what your responsibilities should be as an armed civilian. A few years back it was very common to see open carry people stating that they did not need any training, that retention was never going to be an issue, that there was no need to learn anything from Self Defense Instructors or from those that had a high level of training, knowledge, or experience because they were anti-American, anti-freedom, anti-Constitution, anti-rights, and anti-open carry. There was an amazing amount of disrespect given to those that only wanted to help out a brand new group of shooters and point out that they were making “life or death” decisions from a very low knowledge base……….the low knowledge base of the “political activist only” that could not or would not post their resume or qualification to teach people about self-defense.

I have had many of my fellow Self Defense Instructors ask me why I waste my time trying to help those that have been so disrespectful and caustic. The answer to that is because a bunch of these guys were my friends and students. Just because a friend or student “does not know what he does not know” does not mean that they can not learn what they did not know. They say that common sense is not common. I disagree! I have found that when common sense is presented, it is very easy to recognize. So this debate is no different from a number of controversial debates that I have taken on in my career. If you can apply common sense to a controversial subjects, the world will change, just like it did with point shooting, dynamic movement, getting off of the X, low light gun fighting without flashlights, etc, etc.

“You do not know what you do not know” is not an insult! It is a reality for all of us. So when a person with a ton more knowledge, training, and experience takes the time to teach you about something that you do not know, take what is being given to you………that is what I did and now I am one of the top Instructors in one of the top training organizations in the world.

I open carry!

I do it from a position of knowledge, skill, and experience. I know exactly what I am getting into and exactly what my responsibilities are.

If people are wondering where this series of articles originated, it originated at my local forum. Back when I started writing these articles the forum was only about three years old and really is in its infancy. There was a time when I thought that the people at this forum would never progress past their opencarrydotorg roots. There was a time where ignorance ran that place with an iron fist. But that was then and this is now. I am very happy that I took the time to give these new guys a chance to learn some things that they simply did not know. Now it is a very decent forum with a really good group of people and students. The more they got to know me, the more they trusted me to give them good information and teach them good material.

It did not take too long to get the people to see the political activists for what they really were and to end their domination over the forum. It took some work………but now that I know these guys…….it was well worth the time and the effort.

Every once in a while we get some fresh blood that has been guzzling the Kool-aid. The regulars on the forum usually contact me in order to bring the youngsters around.

Here is a real life open carry encounter on Freemont Street, in Las Vegas and the genesis of my “Do’s and Don’ts” series of articles. The story will be told in bold and my comments at the end will remain standard. I am going to keep the post as close as possible to the exact way it was posted.

Freemont Street OC encounter (Las Vegas)

So I met up with Tr**d, Sa****ge, and D*C, we had a good time, roamed the strip, saw some cool entertainment, all around good night. A couple wandering eyes as usual, not out of the ordinary for us.

So here is where it gets interesting. I break with the guys, say goodbye, and make my way back to the Four Queens where my car is parked. I get to the big intersection at Freemont where everyone waits to walk, it has just turned orange when I arrived. So I’m standing there with about a million other people, when some chewing tobacco comes spitting over my shoulder into the street. I’m like “***?” in my head and I look back. It’s some dude, probably about 200 pounds, 6 foot, tattoos, gauged ears. He looks at me and is all, “Sorry about that man.” I’m a pretty chill dude, so I’m like “No worries, it’s cool”. So about two moments or so later I hear, “Oh man, I’m REALLY sorry!” and I didn’t need to look back to know what he was talking about.

The guy drapes his left arm over my shoulders almost, like… hugging me like a buddy or something. I say, “Haha, yeah.” (Not really sure what to say feeling kind of awkward.) “So What is it?” he asks. “Is it one of those FN’s?” I look down at my XD(m) and say, “nah, it’s a XD… 9millimeter” at this point I notices a 5 foot something girl to his right…

JAW ******* DROPPED TO THE FLOOR

Straight up mesmerized. She was wearing a DCU blouse with US ARMY patches on it, kind of casual. She speaks out, “Do you know this man?? What the hell?”

The tall fellow responds, “Nah just met him. Don’t mind her, this is my daughter.” at this point nothing has changed, I swear to god this girl is tripping. “Oh my god, what are you doing? seriously?” Can’t remember her words exactly, but I can imagine what she was thinking, “Is there some dude walking around Las Vegas with an OPEN GUN on his hip? Just like that?”

So around this time the light turns white, and we step out into the street, the dude tells me his name, and reaches for a shake, I look over, and shake his hand. He makes some remark, I can’t quite remember, but it was to the general premise of “Glad we have the freedom to carry” kind of remark.

I did find it a bit strange that a chick with a frickin DCU jacket that said Army on it would be a little more keen on guns, but maybe it wasn’t hers, and either way she might have had a mindset that couldn’t fathom the idea that a mere civilian could carry a gun out in the open like that.

As I split right the girl is still shocked, and as I separate I can hear her giving him an earful. Overall I would say it was a positive experience.

Looking back on it a bit from a “tactical” perspective, I thought about a couple of things. Firstly, when I stand I usually tuck my thumb into my front pocket, with my elbow draped back, with my forearm contacting the holster slightly while the upper end my arm touches the grip. This way any movement to my weapon will be immediately noticed. I’m glad I do this, because in these close quarter situations its near impossible to have eyes-on all the people in your surrounding area. Situational awareness can only take you so far.

Now the part that got my heart beating a bit was when I went to shake his hand. The moment I did I realized one crucial thing. This man has the thing that brings everything together, my right hand. Without that hand, I don’t have ****, and my little bit of inertia doesn’t mean jack crap if at that point he wanted to pull me around. This was a non-issue, and he is like 99.9% of people and just wanted to give me a friendly gesture, but it became troubling at that time.

I do have a remedy for this, as when I OC I always carry my BUG (Back Up Gun) in my left pocket, so that were I to lose control of my right hand, the left was all ready to fire in the second it would take me to draw. This is pretty fool-proof IMHO, except… for the first time ever…. I forgot my BUG. So while it was all fine and dandy, it taught a lesson that I should always carry a BUG when OC, were I come into a vulnerable position like that again. As a great man once said,

“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet. “

After the typical “defend the Superior American” remarks to this very poor response to being molested in public while carrying a gun, I wrote out my take on the encounter. If you are “street” you will know what I mean……if you are not, your will think that I am being a jerk. It all comes down to context.

Here is how I responded.

I’ve been keeping this to myself for a while, but here is my take on the OP confrontation.

A street smart guy saw the open carry gun and noticed how poor the awareness and the street smarts were by the man carrying the gun. He decided to have a little fun and to teach the open carry man a very valuable lesson.

To start off the lesson he showed utter disrespect by spitting tobacco right over the mans shoulder. This was a “who do you think you are……you ain’t squat” opening to the confrontation…….and yes is was a confrontation to educate the reality of the street and the utter disdain it has for people who have no street smarts. The street knows the danger of the street and has zero respect for those that do not know the streets.

The lack of a quality reaction to this “interview” led to the next lesson. This lesson was all about invading the open carry guys personal space. Basically it was a lesson stating “If I wanted your gun, I could take it.” “I am in your space/face and I have access to your gun and you do not even know how to act.”

IMHO this lesson was designed to solidify the point “If you do not know the streets…….the streets could eat you alive if you do not have the education, preparation, or mindset.”

In other words “YOU AIN’T NOTHING!”

There are two very good things that came out of this…….the street smart guy was not a serious bad guy and the lesson did not cost the OP guy his life. The lesson of lack of mental preparedness seems to have had a very profound effect on the OP’s mindset and what he could do better next time the street decides to have a little fun.

BTW, the streets idea of fun can be brutally lethal.

The “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of Open Carry Part V (New)

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

The Most Dangerous of the Lies or Perpetuation of Ignorance “There is no Tactical Advantage to Concealing Your Handgun”

This one argument was the undoing of the “political activist only crowd.” This level of ignorance on the reality of self-defense left them fighting from a position of an unmistakable lack of basic knowledge. This is the point where we called them out on their level of training, experience, and where they learn their self-defense philosophy. Every “political activist only” advocate that I had debated either admitted to having no training or refused to list their training. The newbies want to talk about the speed of the draw and the experts want to talk about the timing of their draw.

Speed of the draw stoke is nowhere near as important as the timing of the draw stroke. Newbies want speed…….experience wants timing. It is this timing that is the ultimate tactical advantage, but most people do not have the training necessary to understand the OODA loop, the reactionary curve, initiative deficit, and taking the initiative. When you get to dictate “if and when” you are going to enter the fight, that is a tactical advantage of the highest degrees. When you are open carrying your ability to decide “if and when” is severely hampered and you lose one of the biggest tactical advantages possible inside of a life threatening situation. Speed of the draw stoke is not about “tactical advantage” it is about speed of the draw stroke. To infer that the speed of the draw makes up for your ability to use your timing to the ultimate of benefits, would be a huge mistake that can be found out very quickly in properly conducted force on force.

This is why I keep my tactical advantage when I am in the big city, around crowds, or in high crime areas. Because it is clear that timing is much more important than a very small amount of speed. Outside of areas like this and where there is no other choice by law, I am willing to give up my tactical advantage (my ability to use my timing) and open carry. But then again, in most cases, my threat level has dropped dramatically due to the area that I am in.

As far as speed of the draw from open carry compared to concealment, it is much more about the position that the gun is carried over whether it is covered or not. When you carry on your center line, as in appendix carry, you cut out all of the wasted motion of going behind the hip. This elimination of wasted movement allows you to clear your garment on your center line in relatively the same speed as from open carry behind the hip. There are things that can be learned that will allow you to mitigate any loss of speed by being concealed.

A very small percentage of open carry people are all about stats and links. They cherry pick the stats that support their decisions while ignoring all of the stats that do not support their opinion. This has been a long time problem with this small group of people and that is due to how transparent their dogma is. An open carry person may deter a criminal from acting, a CCW person may deter a criminal from acting, an unarmed person that carries himself well and has some good awareness may deter a criminal from acting. Years ago there was a study done inside of a super max prison. The people doing the study would lay out pictures of law-abiding civilians and ask the criminal predators, “which ones do you want?” Nearly every single criminal predator picked out the exact same people. The point is that you do not have to have a visible gun to deter crime. It is about “a look” that we have.

People are targeted for their guns! It has been that way for a very long time (like ever since the invention of guns.) Just because we have a recent push for open carry does not mean that historical fact is going to go away……..no matter how badly the “political activist only” want it to go away. When we talk about how often this happens, it is like any crime, you could go your whole life and not be effected by any given crime. But, self-defense is all about preparing for what might happen. You being targeted for your guns may or may not happen, but when you give away your operational security (OPSEC), the risks increase. That is the way crime works. People looking to take guns from people…….tend to go to people who are known to have guns. Open carry allows people to know that you have guns.

In my opinion, the perpetuation of the lie “there is no tactical advantage” is one of the most dangerous lies told by the “political activist only.” And until that lie has quit being perpetuated, I will point out that fact.

Once again, I am not telling you to not open carry. It would be extremely arrogant of me to do that since I am completely ignorant of your reality. It would also be very hypocritical of me since I open carry nearly every day. What I am telling you is to get the education and the facts, so you can make your very important personal decisions. Nobody is in the position to judge your well-educated decision except you, but please do not base these important decisions solely because you listened to the wrong people who only cared about a political agenda.

My concern is about teaching self-defense at the highest levels that I possibly can and my resume can be found here in my Biography section.

The “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of Open Carry Part IV

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

Dealing With the Unknown Quantity

If your focus is on achieving your “paramount mission” and not on “educating” and “stirring up awareness” then you need to know how to deal with the unknown quantity. If you are out there trying to “educate” then this will not apply to you, but be very aware of that fact that you are intentionally breaking solid and long-established self-defense philosophy of not letting unknown people close ground on you in order to converse with you. This is one of my main concerns with what the political activist preach. They want you to go out and “educate” people that you do not even know. This would fall under the “doing stupid things” so that makes you the stupid person doing stupid things.

On the other hand, if all you care about is living your life and going home to your loved ones, then you do need to know how to deal with the unknown quantity. We cannot just pull our gun due to somebody getting to close, yet we do not want the wrong people getting too close, because their percentages of a successful attack rise with every inch that they close. We need to deal with them before they close the distance.

Of course the first step to this is awareness and profiling. If you see them early enough and you identify them as not being a threat……great! But, if you see them early and your spider senses tell you “something is not right here” you need to be able to trust that feeling and know how to deal with the person that is causing that feeling. When it comes to profiling, do not immediately dismiss the attractive woman or girl as “not a threat.” Using a “friendly” to set up the mark is a tactic as old as the hills.

Once you have identified the possible threat, you need to use your “positioning” skills to avoid their approach. This can be as simple as a directional change, stepping behind a barrier, crossing a street, etc, etc……. all while scanning for additional threats or other members of the crew. This position change will put them in a place where they will either have to counter your move or call off the approach. If they counter your positioning move they are tipping their hand to their intent. If they tip their hand you need to call them on it immediately. This is where we get loud!

“BACK OFF!” “BACK OFF!” “BACK THE [expletive] OFF!”

Sometimes the street only respects the street!

If you can’t curse like a sewer rat, your point just might not get across. Embrace that inner animal and let them know that you mean serious business.

These verbal commands are all done while using your positioning skills to maintain your distance and while scanning for addition threats or members of the crew. While we are moving we want to make sure that the adversary does not have a chance to take a “snap shot” of the battle field. If you plant yourself the snap shot can be taken and the OODA loop can begin to be processed through. By constantly moving and scanning we cut down on the chances for the adversary to develop his plan of action. If these steps do not work, the adversary has shown you his entire hand. What point you go to your weapon is a very personal decision. Your line in the sand has to be perfectly clear in your mind before the confrontation ever takes place. This is the point where all of the work you did inside of the “mental aspect of the fight” comes to fruition. Remember hesitation can get you killed! Get your head straight well before hand!

Once the fight is on, do what needs to be done to dominate the situation. This may mean stay at the cover that you had already positioned yourself at, explode off the X with your dynamic movement draw stroke, or even dominate the encounter with ballistic effect if you are in a really good position.

Another skill set that you are going to want to own is the identification of “pre-attack indicators.” There are very common movements and behaviors that are almost always present when the adversary is about to launch an attack. If you know what to look for you can cut down on you being surprised dramatically. There are certain “rituals” involved right before an attack is launched.

  • Grooming
  • Removing of clothing
  • Puffing up
  • Clenching of fists
  • Clenching of the jaw
  • Turning red
  • Turning grey
  • Shaking of hands or twitching of fingers
  • Inability to stand in one place or pacing
  • Blading off into a fighter’s stance
  • The thousand yard stare
  • Blinking of eyes quickened
  • Target glance
  • Weapon glance
  • Escape glance
  • Witness glance
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Increased breathing
  • Hiding of the hands
  • Hiding of an empty palm
  • Flanking
  • Slow verbal responses due to being occupied making a plan

All of these are signs of an imminent attack. If you know what they look like you are in a much better position to deal with them. The difference between knowing something is going to happen and not knowing something is going to happen is huge. If it comes out of “nowhere” your response time is going to be very slow. If you see it coming your ingrained responses will give you a much better chance to deal with the attack.

As we see, the idea that relying on “the mere presence” of the gun is a lowest common denominator mindset. There is so much out there to learn if you want to be as safe and as deadly as you can possibly be. Please do not make the mistake of listening to those that do not know what they do not know.

The more you know the earlier you can get into the fight. The earlier you get into the fight the higher your chances are of coming out victorious. When we talk about this “time period” to get into the fight earlier, we are talking an exponential difference between your chances of being victorious. The more knowledge you have the more off sides you can be. You do not need to be attacked before you can fight. All you need to be able to do is articulate your reasonable fear of a life threatening or grievously bodily harm attack.

The more you know the better you will be. Do not settle for being lowest common denominator. The gun is not a talisman that wards off evil!

The “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of Open Carry Part III

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

The Retention Problem

“Ever since the first caveman grabbed the first rock inside of a fight, man has been fighting over a weapon.”

Weapon retention is something that simply has to be taken into consideration if you are going to carry a gun……concealed or open. I think we can all agree that if you follow the “Three Stupid Rule” your chances of being in a life threatening encounter are very low………that is if you follow the “Three Stupid Rule.” Most young people do not follow those rules and it seems as if the open carry crowd is predominantly young people. The chances rise dramatically if you live outside of the rules. But let’s all face it, even if the chance is low if your number is called it does not matter how many other people’s numbers were not called. All that matters is that you are now fighting for your life or the life of your loved ones. If there was zero chance of this happening then we would not need to carry weapons at all. But we all know that it can happen, so let’s get past the BS that is commonly thrown around by the political activist.

Retention is an issue that must be taken into consideration!

Refuse to admit this fact at your own peril. But do not blame the “self defense” guys for not trying to get this fundamental truth through to you……blame the political activist for trying to hide it from you. When men fight, there will most likely be a weapon involved (even if it is an improvised weapon.) If there is only one weapon, there will be a fight over that weapon if the fight is not ended quickly and decisively. If you have a visible gun on your waistband, you have brought that one weapon into the fight. Basically that makes almost any fight that you get into a gunfight.

If we can just agree that “fights happen” then we can agree that retention is an issue.

When we look at “our power” it is strongest right inside of our work space. Our work space is from waist to chin, inside of each shoulder. It extends out about one foot from our chest. This is the area where we are our strongest. This is where “our power” is at its peak. This is right inside of the natural arch of the arms, if we were to bring our hands up along the body, from our waist up to our chin. Not only is this “our power” workspace it is also our optimal area of hand speed. If I want to open carry and I want to be the very best that I can be, I am going to wear my holster on my waistband, near my center line. You can call it “cross draw” or “appendix” depending on the position that you use, but it has many advantages.

The number one advantage is that the gun is in front of you and you have better “security” over that gun. We have better security due to the gun being on the same side of your body as your eyes. The gun is also guarded by being in between your arms and inside of your power work space. This offers great protection from any gun grab from behind. When we look at conventional open carry methods of carry such as “on the hip” or “behind the hip” we see that we are really open from an attack on the gun from behind. When we combine “the eyes,”” the power,” and the “hand speed” from the center line it is clear that any other carry position on the waistband are sub-optimal positions in regards to weapon retention. While this concept may be huge inside of “those in the know” inside of certain tactical circles, it is not that well-known inside of the open carry circles.

If you have made the decision to open carry on the hip or behind the hip it is probably a very good idea to invest in a high quality (I mean quality, not prolific) retention holster. Personally, I really like the Safariland retention holsters. Bladetec also has some good offerings. We need to accept the fact that since the gun is not on the same side of the body as the eyes, not inside of the power work space, and way off of the center line we are going to need to supplement the sub-optimal carry method with a holster that will mitigate those obvious weaknesses.

In Part I of this series I talked about “responsibility.” We have a responsibility to make sure that our weapons do not end up in the hands of the bad guys. That means that we must look at the security of our weapon. Center line carry allows you to operate without retention devices. On or behind the hip should be supplemented with a quality retention holster. I am not interested in debating the tired old argument “Bad guys won’t take your gun.” That is not what my personal experience has shown me and no I will not provide a link or tell the story.  Be very careful listening to a person that has never even been in a fist fight……..let alone a fight for a life.

If someone grabs for your gun, push down hard on his hand to keep the gun in the holster and to trap his hand, then go to town with hand to hand skill sets or access your blade and take out the parts of the machine that allow the machine to fight. Gun guys are notorious for thinking “I do not need hand to hand skills, I’ll just shoot them”……! “I do not need to know knife fighting, I’ll just shoot them”…….. WRONG! This type of thinking is just another example of the perpetuation of ignorance inside of the gun world.

Let’s look at how to keep people from even thinking ”I could take that gun if I wanted to.” It all comes down to establishing a personal space around you. American men hold conversations at two yards. That is finger tip to finger tip. If anyone invades this space you are either dealing with an annoying idiot (you all know what I am talking about,) a person looking to teach you a lesson, or a bad guy trying to get to your gun. Be wary of anyone trying to get inside of this space. As soon as it happens you need to go from yellow to orange. Do what needs to be done to re-establish this space and establish that you do not like people inside of your personal space.

This is why I do not open carry in crowds. This is why I do not open carry anywhere where I know that I will be standing in line.

If you are open carrying in a crowd and it is impossible to avoid everyone, adjust the direction that you stand to mitigate your openings. It all comes down to awareness, common sense, and acceptance that life is not beautiful and people are not great.

The evil of man is just a newspaper article away. Bad things do happen to good people!

The “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of Open Carry Part II

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

The Mental Aspect of the Fight

Some people may want to call this “mindset” but that term is very vague and does not do justice to the things that you should really know when it comes to open carry. If we can all agree that there are risks to carrying handguns (open or concealed) and that there is a certain responsibility attached to that decision, then it is clear that we need to “get our head right” about what we are doing, why we are doing it, and how to do it best. If you are open carrying for the reasons mention in the first part of this article, then you need to understand that the mind is the ultimate weapon and the handgun is just the tool that the mind uses to be as efficient and effective as you can possibly be inside of the limitations of “just walking through life.” In other words, it is the mind that turns the talisman into a devastating weapon. Without the mind it is just a chunk of metal, wood, and plastic.

I think that we can all agree that the very best life threatening confrontation is the one that you can avoid. If you don’t feel this way, let me warn you “be very careful what you wish for.” Being a hero is not all that it is cracked up to be. It can be alright (that is the extent of it, that is why almost all hero’s say “I just did what anyone else would do”) or it could be absolutely devastating.

“If you spend your life hunting monsters, be very careful to not become one yourself. Because, when you stare into the abyss, the abyss will eventually stare back into you.”

When it comes down to avoidance, awareness is our number one tool. When you are open carrying, you need to learn the difference between people looking at you and thinking “hey that guy has a gun” and looking at you and thinking “hey that guy has a gun, I bet he thinks he is a bad @$$. I could so take that gun if I wanted to.” Do not make the mistake that people do not ever ponder this. I am a certified good guy and I have pondered it. There are times that I have wanted to teach a lesson or two. But of course being a certified good guy, I did not do it………. but oh was it tempting! To think that people will not take your gun “just because they can” is a huge mistake. That is why everyone that you do not know personally needs to be looked at with a critical eye. I am not saying to be paranoid, but use some common sense and good judgment. If you do not know the person……do not trust the person. We all need to be aware of the bad guys ploy of sending in a “friendly” to set the person up for what they want. If it seems too good to be true……guess what……it is too good to be true.

When you are open carrying, keep your head up and your radar on. Let people know that you see them, when they see you. A little eye contact is good……. too much is bad. A nod of acknowledgement is acceptable, but do not come across as being too friendly or too much of a hard @$$. You should not be striving to engage people, you should not be looking to “educate.” That leaves you open. You should be striving to do what you need to do, inside of your life, and then fulfill your mission and go home. One of the main stay ploys for a bad guy is to get you to stop and have a conversation, so they can close the distance. Once the distance has been closed, you are theirs! If you doubt this then you do not know about the OODA loop or “initiative deficit.” Allowing people to engage you in order “to educate” is playing into one of the most successful bad guy ploys that there is.

“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan that will allow you to dominate everyone that you meet.”

Situational awareness is all about profiling. This has nothing to do with race. We all know that bad guys come in all races, sizes, ages, and sex. You are profiling anything that is simply out of place or unusual. It can be as simple as a glance that is adverted quickly when eye contact is made. It can as simple as a certain type of car. Yes, we do profile cars……right? One of my favorite profiling games that I play is the “who is the most dangerous person in the general vicinity?” As long as the answer is a resounding “ME!” than I am safe. As soon as I begin to question that answer, then I know that I really need to be on my toes. Ego can never be part of this game, the truth is the truth and everything less is a lie. This question cannot be answered through target shooting. Fighting and target shooting have next to nothing to do with each other.

People think that mindset is just awareness and willingness. In my opinion that is less that 10% of the true mental aspect of the fight. Over half of my “Point Shooting Progressions” book is about the mental aspect of the fight.

  • Situational awareness
  • Willingness to fight
  • The will to win
  • The solidification of your mission
  • Know yourself
  • Know the adversary
  • Know the dynamics of a fight
  • Know the correct context of a fight
  • Know avoidance, deterrence, and de-escalation
  • Know that the situation is the dictating factor
  • Know the best strategies for your very personal mission
  • Know when to apply your wide range of tactics
  • Know which skill sets facilitate the best use of your tactics

Your tactics are worthless without having your head straight.

Your skill sets are worthless without having your head straight.

Your equipment is worthless without having your head straight.

  • Mindset
  • Tactics
  • Skill sets
  • Equipment

In that order!

The brain is the ultimate weapon….everything else is just a tool.