Today while driving, I noticed yet another self defense school offering instruction in Martial Arts.  They were advertising a special for the “first lesson free,” which more than likely will draw in a new batch of customers.  A new batch of customers that will spend probably $35.00 a month for the next year, miss half of their classes, and now somehow think they are equiped to protect themselves. Hmmm.

I still don’t get it!  Is it just me?  The last thing I want is to have an attacker in my face and having to fight with fists, knives…who knows what?  I much prefer to defend myself from a distance and you should too.  In the tactical world, we refer to this distance as the “Survival Gap,” and for good reason.

Your chances of being overpowered and seriously injured are increased exponentially by going hands on.  What in the world do I have to gain by going “hands on” with anyone?  Even if you are 6.5 feet tall and weigh 240 pounds…there are still skilled people out there that will overpower you very quickly.  Heck, I worked with a guy who weighed 165 and he could put you to sleep in about 10 seconds.  On the other hand, he can’t put you to sleep if he is not close enough to get his hands on you.

What’s that he said?  Survival Gap…Distance?  Yep…distance…and lots of it!  Ask any Law Enforcement officer and they will tell you it is first and foremost on their mind.  So what’s a good distance you ask?  Let’s quickly examine the data.

The average “tactical minded” individual takes about one and one-half seconds to react to a perceived threat.  Now you’re probably thinking…that’s pretty quick.  However, and this is key, studies have found that an average healthy adult male can cover a seven yard distance in a time of (you guessed it) about one and one-half seconds.   No, were not talking about a track star…average healthy male.  It is safe to say then that an armed attacker at 21 feet is at the edge of your Survival Gap.  Anything closer and you are getting into trouble quickly.  So here are a few tips to help you maintain this Survival Gap.

First, develop and maintain a healthy level of tactical alertness. If you spot the danger signs early enough (listen to that little voice inside your head), you can probably avoid a lot of confrontations altogether.  If it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t!  A tactical withdrawal may be your best  bet.  Take a different route; wait for them to leave…do whatever it takes to avoid the situation.  Unfortunately, this is not going to work 100  percent of the time and we need to resort to our training.

If you are being approached, look them directly in the eyes and in a firm, loud voice let them know you mean business with verbal commands such as, “Stop”‘ or “Stay Back!”    It may work, and even if it doesn’t, you’ll be developing your legal case for self-defense by showing that you did everything you could to prevent using force against them.  If all goes according to plan, the odds are that by now you will no longer have a problem…your attacker having remembered he had a more pressing engagement elsewhere.

But, as we all know, some of these criminals aren’t playing with a full deck.  If your “Early Warning System” tells you that an attack is probable or imminent, you’ll want to place yourself in the best tactical position available. You should try and move to any available cover (cover stops bullets), draw your concealed carry weapon, pepper spray, or stun gun and quickly prepare to defend yourself.  Good cover will make  it that much harder for the attacker to get to you.  Anything between you and your attacker (trash cans, vehicles, furniture, etc.) that slows him down buys you more time to make the appropriate decisions, and, if it becomes necessary, more time to use your weapon(s)…the weapons you have been trained on!

Tactical Alertness, Survival Gap, and skill with the weapon(s) you have been trained on (concealed carry, pepper spray, stun gun)…that’s the combination that will make you the winner in a violent attack.

Chuck Bradley