Over-selling hand-to-hand combat

Article: I Carry a Gun. I Don’t Need That H2H Crap!

Setting aside for a moment that directly hand-to-hand engaging an assailant is beyond stupid, hand-to-hand combat trainers seem to rely on fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) to sell their training.

“You may not have your gun”. “You may not be able to access your gun.”

Missing from the discussion? Risk.

Starting just with the probability you’d actually need to defend yourself, whether using hand-to-hand or deadly force, along with the risk of injury or death from doing so. Doing so in any fashion means you invite the risk of a criminal prosecution, but one should never let that dissuade them from actually defending themselves.

And, more importantly, there are some situations where the legal standard for deadly force may be met, but you will still suffer consequences of your actions that may be worse than a legal punishment.

And the same would be true even in a hand-to-hand situation. You cannot use more force than necessary to neutralize a threat. Indeed, you may face greater liability attempting to engage someone hand-to-hand, especially if you go so far as to gravely injure or kill the other person because you “couldn’t stop yourself” from doing so. Don’t pretend that hand-to-hand means you won’t kill someone. Remember that more people are killed each year from kicks and punches than rifles.

And don’t pretend that a pistol means you always will. Contrary to popular belief, successful use of deadly force with a pistol – meaning the intended target is killed – is uncommon. Stories abound of someone taking several shots from a pistol and acting like nothing happened. Shot placement is what matters. And under stress, you’re actually quite unlikely to put rounds within any of the critical zones, even if you’re well trained.

Hand to hand requires a bit more awareness and control over your actions to avoid going too far.

Also missing from the discussion? Whether it’s in a person’s best interest to actually train for hand-to-hand, let alone use it. “Of course it’s always in a person’s best interest” I can hear someone already saying. And… no, no it isn’t. To think such is myopic and asinine.

I’m approaching 42 years old. I’m 6’2″ tall (188cm). I’ve had various problems with my musculoskeletal system since I was in middle school. (Read: nearly 30 years.) Trying to learn any kind of martial art or hand-to-hand combat would likely lead to injury. Meaning trying to use it in real life is more likely to lead to injury.

And that is something I really want to avoid. There have been numerous days since the start of my 30s where I’ve been pretty-well incapacitated due to pain in my back, shoulder, and/or hip. Unconnected to any kind of strenuous activity, I might add. I remember one particularly bad day several years ago while at my previous job where I left work early due to back pain, even saying in my email to my managers that I should never have come in to begin with.

I also can’t run or sprint worth a damn, haven’t been able to since college, so my ability to put worthwhile distance between me and an assailant in quick time is, in practicality, nonexistent.

That’s why I carry a firearm. My only other option is pepper spray or a melee weapon. Both of which have a maximum effective range far closer to your person than a firearm can reach. And with pepper spray you have to be mindful of the wind to avoid droplets flying back at you. Meaning if you personally are allergic to capsaicin, the active ingredient in pepper spray, the risk of a reaction should any of it fly back at you eliminates it as an option.

But even for someone who is reasonably fit, engaging in hand-to-hand combat with any assailant is unwise, in the kindest terms. Okay, I’ll stop being kind: it’s downright stupid. It’s in your best interest to keep distance from an assailant as best as possible. And the best way is with a ranged weapon – e.g., a firearm.

Let me put it this way: if your assailant closes distance to you enough to grapple, whether they do or not, you’ve already lost. As the saying goes, there are no winners in a street fight.

You also can’t know whether the person is armed with… anything they haven’t already presented. Grappling with an assailant leaves you open to all kinds of ways you can be attacked. And the amount of energy needed to defend yourself via hand-to-hand is far greater than that needed with a firearm.

Especially since, in most situations, all you have to do is brandish. And brandishing a firearm is not the same as using it. I’ve said that time and again to the anti-gun crowd, so I’m surprised I’m having to say it here.

And the standard for brandishing a firearm is a bit more lenient than using it. But I know the ready retort from hand-to-hand advocates and instructors about brandishing a firearm, since it’s the same one that comes from anti-gun advocates and was seen during the Kyle Rittenhouse trial: “escalation”. That brandishing a firearm in response to someone you perceive as a threat – even if not immediately perceptible and articulable as one of great bodily harm or death – is escalation under the law and immediately puts you in the wrong. Except it doesn’t.

But rather than brandishing your firearm… engage in hand-to-hand combat instead?

Another consideration as well: training environment versus wherever you end up engaging in hand-to-hand. Unless your training environment includes the kind of hazards you’ll find in alleys and other common urban or suburban areas, your training is inadequate.

Your environment can be used to your advantage and it can be used against you. Remember that.

Speaking of… This part of the article is rather telling:

Does anyone want to trade places with George Zimmerman? He was eventually found not guilty, but how much money did he have to spend to defend himself, and how much of an emotional toll did he endure? There was absolutely a valid and functional H2H solution for his problem that could have easily avoided the need to employ deadly force

Wow… How arrogant can you get?

Remember how I said your environment can be used against you? Yeah, the George Zimmerman incident is evidence of that.

Since, last I checked, it’s pretty well established that Trayvon Martin surprised Zimmerman, sucker-punching him in the nose and forcing him to the ground, where he then proceeded to bash Zimmerman’s skull into the concrete. There is no “valid and functional H2H solution” in that situation.

Plus engaging someone hand-to-hand doesn’t mean escaping interaction with the criminal justice system, so stop pretending that’s the case.

Instead there’s another possibility: hospitalization or death from knife wounds. Since, again, you can’t know if the person you’re grappling has another weapon they haven’t yet presented.

And being ambushed in the same fashion as Zimmerman is a possibility one must account for. Again, your environment can be used against you. And that’s the case whether you’re carrying a firearm or simply going to try standing your ground and fighting hand-to-hand.

In all seriousness, train for hand-to-hand if you desire. But situational awareness along with competent risk assessment so you avoid the need to defend yourself will take you much further.