Don’t Go Looking for a Fight

Dave Spaulding is a retired law enforcement officer and firearms trainer. Recently, he has been doing a series of videos for Ruger which can be seen on YouTube. He has also been collaborating with Rob Robideau in a series of podcasts on combative training on the Personal Armament Podcast.

In one of his first combative’s podcasts entitled Combative Willingness, Dave addresses the issue of the self-defense with a firearm versus the combative application of the firearm. He holds that if you are always on the defensive, you are destined to lose. He says this because at its root meaning, defense means to lose slowly. Whereas combative means to be ready and willing to fight. After the initial attack, you have transitioned from a defensive posture both mentally and physically into one where you are taking the fight to the attacker.

To be combative does not mean you are looking for a fight. Far from it. In the Combative Willingness episode, Dave begins to cover this at around the 8:30 mark. As he notes, no matter how well trained you are or how well prepared you are, you will always run the risk of losing. Dave doesn’t sugarcoat it – losing in a fight, especially a fight involving any sort of weapon, can mean losing your life.

John Farnam of Defense Training International has a column he calls “Quips, Quotes, and Lessons Learned From the Field”. His September 5th column contained comments from Dave on this very issue:

“I remain amazed at the number of students who seem enamored (albeit discreetly) with the thought of becoming involved in some type of deadly combat. Most are pitiably naive and have scant concept of what a real fight entails, and that, no matter the odds, they’ll still have a good chance of losing!

Even the best training falls short with regard to one critical aspect: there is never genuine expectation of injury, nor death!

Few of us receive anywhere near the training of our Special Operations Forces, yet they are killed regularly by less-trained, less-motivated, less-hale conscripts, with ageing, poorly-maintained AKs, who haphazardly stick them over walls and yank on the trigger. You can kill most of them, but there is ever the issue of the ‘lucky shot!’

Physical fighting should only be undertaken when you have no choice. When threats can be avoided, they should be. When disengagement can be accomplished at low risk, it should be.

However, when forced to take a stand, a stand worth fighting, and dying, for, then we should counter with great skill, surprise, speed, potency, advantage, and enthusiasm! When you must strike, put him to sleep!”

I highly recommend the whole series of podcasts on combatives on the Personal Armament Podcast. You can download them for the site or on iTunes. If you carry concealed or you have a firearm at home with which to protect your family, you owe to yourself and your loved ones to listen to these podcasts. Training to protect yourself or those you love is as much mental training as it is time at the range.

On a related note, Dave Spaulding’s book Handgun Combatives, 2nd. Ed., is reviewed by Rich Grassi in today’s The Tactical Wire. He calls it one of the few books he always wants close by for immediate reference.


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