“Why, then, do you fear to take up the cross when through it you can win a kingdom? In the cross is salvation, in the cross is life, in the cross is protection from enemies, in the cross is infusion of heavenly sweetness, in the cross is strength of mind, in the cross is joy of spirit, in the cross is highest virtue, in the cross is perfect holiness. There is no salvation of soul nor hope of everlasting life but in the cross.”

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas À Kempis

I wish someone would have told me as a young sheep dog; In everything you do; strive to remain calm and think your way through the combat.  Learn to detach from all the fears that will swirl about that big ugly head of yours.

We have an untold number of opportunities every single day to practice detachment from this, that, and the other fear.  As Thomas Kempis taught; in the Cross is strength of mind.

Bearing and Default Aggressive Responses

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If an ambush predator were to unlawfully grab hold of and restrain you, you’re going to want to have a default aggressive response to that kind of a violent problem.  Perfect practice can build in this kind of trained response.  While visiting, stopping, and moving about public spaces a strong bearing does have the potential to discourage some unjust criminal aggressors from choosing us as a target. Bearing has to do with how you carry yourself.  Merriam-Webster in part states “a man of erect and soldierly bearing” and also; “an examination or determination of one’s position or situation.”  In this post I’ll dig down, a little, regarding bearing and default aggressive responses.  On my YouTube channel I recently broke down a robbery and violent head stomping with the same title as this post. You can see that video at this link:

First An Important Distinction:

Comporting yourself with a strong bearing comes before a potentially dangerous situation begins to develop.  After a potential threat begins to develop if I have distance and time I’m either avoiding and/or I’m moving offline leading my adversary out to a place of disadvantage or vulnerability.  Humility involves taking the lowest seat.  The exercise of the virtue of humility is humiliation. Where time and distance permit I coach students to move offline with their adversary at roughly a 90° angle towards cover or concealment (some object).  If the bad guy pursues then ambiguity decreases and jeopardy increases (think legal battlefield).  I teach students how to use a near pass with their desired destination then pivot 90° at the apex point gaining surprise!  The surprise that the innocent person of goodwill just secured cover and now they’re an exceedingly small target should this confrontation go to guns.  Often posturing down rather than up has the power to lead one’s adversary out to the deep.   Seeing early and moving offline early is critical to such a strategy.   Where distance and time do not permit there are other tactics and strategies beyond the scope of this post.

Avoiding violent problems begins with good situational awareness.  A really good analogy is defensive driving.  As drivers gain experience their capability to rapidly read, understand, and act, gets better, as it relates to dealing with other incompetent, distracted, or dangerous drivers.  Good defensive drivers read things a lot farther out.  Situational awareness works in much the same way.

In law enforcement, bearing was also referred to as officer presence or command presence. This concept began with a squared away uniform.  Fitness and strength were considered part of good officer presence.  A command voice, readiness, and a resolute will as is proven out through one’s actions.  So what might readiness and the body language of readiness look like?  The head and eyes are up paying attention. Priority of attention is paid to understanding what it is you’re seeing, and remaining watchful without spinning up a confrontation.  Before a threat exists you might use peripheral vision, obscured views through tinted windows, sunglasses, and/or reflections to subtly monitor potential threats.   As threats close with or compress in on you and yours, direct focus on the hands becomes a priority.  Potential threats are not easily nor quickly rationalized away – they are monitored.  Potential unjust aggressors are not given a position of advantage out of some misplaced social norm or courtesy. Shoulders are typically pulled back juxtaposed to slouched or rolled forward.  As you stand, walk, and move about an observer might describe what they see as seeing someone who knows where they are; and knows where they’re going, with what might be described as an air of confidence.  The bottom line is you do not appear confused or uncertain.  Stability and mobility come from stance.  In my estimation a good stance is not having your feet exceedingly close together but more like shoulder width and offset to some degree.  Overall alignment or orientation demonstrates a correct positioning facing generally towards the biggest potential threat(s) moving around you and yours.  

Over the course of my life, I have heard many times from folks who did not serve in a warrior profession comment about how they could just tell a police officer was in law enforcement.  The comments often are not meant as a compliment. Additional comments may include the belief that the guy is cocky or arrogant.  Both good guys and bad guys often display a similar kind of air of confidence, which in part explains how both  good guys and bad guys often recognize each other as they move about society.  There are some other tell-tale signs whether we’re seeing a good guy or bad guy though that’s a discussion for another day. There have been times I have found myself wondering: What am I looking at here?  Is this a good guy or a bad guy?  

So long as you or I are willing to dominate the bad & ugly parts of our ego we can avoid some (not all) potentially violent confrontations. So long as you or I are willing to dominate the bad & ugly parts of our ego we can often stack winning principles putting ourselves in the best possible positions to decisively win a violent confrontation.

When my family is with me I’m only as fast as my slowest members and because my family is with me, it’s not about me and my escape or survival, it’s about their escape and survival. That is the coin of the realm for a husband, father, or mother.  That is the coin of the realm for a brother in arms – a protector and defender of innocents.  That is the coin of the realm for any sheepdog or shepherd, as it were.

Where an unjust criminal aggressor perceives or reads you as an easy victim the least expected thing will be for you to immediately move into, through, and over your unjust aggressor with surprise, speed, and violence of action. Continuing to attempt to flee when fleeing is not an option gives the bad guy a higher percentage of probability of dominating and perhaps ending your life.  A default aggressive response moves that percentage of probability immediately closer to 50/50.  Where it’s not possible for me to stack probabilities my way sometimes we have to accept the best odds we may have is 50/50.  Part of that reality includes our will – which is the decision making faculty of our souls.  Understand unless the unjust aggressor immediately incapacitates us via paralysis, unconsciousness, dying or death we still have some number of seconds to STOP the unjust aggressor.  We cannot know with certainty whether the bad guy’s bullet or knife wound will or will not result in our eventual death.  We might think we know and perhaps we are right but the immediate decision that must be made is; What do you do with the time you’ve been given?  Perhaps it’s only thirty seven more seconds!  Perhaps it’s only twelve more seconds.  What – do you do – with the time?  If you want any chance to live out the rest of your natural life you first must stop – the – threat!  Use whatever time you have to win the fight, leaving the business of your life or death up to the good Lord.

To conclude this business isn’t merely about appearing competent, confident, and prepared. Rather it’s about being competent, confident, and prepared.  It’s not about posturing up which may facilitate an early grave or a lengthy stay in your local prison.  When a threat is undeterred by a strong and confident bearing it’s often a winning strategy to posture down and sandbag buying you the element of surprise.  Sandbagging can cause a bad guy to underestimate you and in his own prideful overconfidence begin giving you opportunities to gain advantages in positioning, timing (think initiative), and in the will.  Surprise when coupled with speed and violence of action may facilitate achieving and maintaining relative superiority to secure the win.  The principles, tactics, and strategies that work do so for both the good and the bad men and women of this world.  The critical moral and legal questions then come down to what was the will of each man.  In the video example above the will of the unjust aggressor was domination, incapacitation, and robbery.  Innocent people have the will to protect and defend against such immoral, unethical, and illegal attacks.  Begin by seeking to acquire knowledge relating to fundamental principles of building a solid foundation, then seek to answer the questions; do I have a legitimate potentially violent problem, and if yes,  what do I do about that problem?  

Think about these things. 

Legitimate Self-Defense and Drawing from the Drop

As a general rule it’s not a good idea to attempt to draw on a drawn gun, especially at point-blank range, contact range, and all the more when an unjust aggressor is already pointing his firearm at you. In this blog post I’ll take a look at some of what it depends upon.  I’ll dig down a bit on the question of when it may make sense to attempt to draw on a drawn gun or from what’s been called drawing from the drop (meaning the bad guy is pointing his firearm at you), and you remain under his observation or peripheral vision.

Where no good opportunity exists and a criminal demands my wallet, or my car, by brandishing or pointing a firearm at me or mine, I’m going to comply and hand those things over. I’m going to be a good witness. If I decide to use legitimate defense it will be due to the imminent threat of great bodily harm, or death, not because of a loss of a material good. Part of that decision process will include remaining watchful for a window of opportunity or one of the other circumstances listed below.

If a bad guy has a readiness, close distance, and the will to unjustly murder an innocent any sudden reaches for a concealed weapon will likely result in you experiencing great bodily harm, or death. Let’s take a look at an instance where I do not believe the bad guy had a readiness which had much to do with his expectations:

Extras – Sometimes Unjust Aggressors Get Surprised

Here is the link to a more thorough video breakdown of the incident listed above!

If an unjust criminal aggressor gives us the gift of underestimation, we ought to be grateful for that gift. We ought to exploit and take advantage of any errors or vulnerabilities to stop the unjust imminent deadly force threat! Sandbagging (taking the lowest seat – humbling oneself) facilitates an adversary’s belief that they will receive no resistance what-so-ever. That belief sometimes opens a window of opportunity! This is not a sporting event with rules, referee’s, nor paramedics standing by. These are grave matters of life and death! If an imminent threat of great bodily harm or death finds me then the last thing I want is a fair fight. I want to stack winning principles my way.

In general the closer you are to an unjust ambush criminal predator the higher the probability that a gunfight with him results in your death. The closer you are the more important it is to seize initiative and decisively win the fight. At contact range (inside 1 yard) you either comply, immobilize his weapon or him (draw and end the fight), or create distance. At this distance it’s just too easy for the bad guy to simply raise his firearm and let your head fill the backdrop of his slide, or muzzle.  If you’re able to immobilize your adversary’s weapon or pin him against something facing away from you, do so. Think in terms of a brief immobilization, only long enough to draw and solve your deadly threat problem? Deadly force encounters are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving. Expect a moment of immobilization to be brief (like cover; which is also temporary when someone flanks or gets behind you).

Professional training teaches students to achieve sight alignment and then sight picture. For those using a red dot on their weapon system like an RMR (Ruggedized Miniature Reflex), the sight alignment is built in and one only needs sight picture.

What about point-blank range?  Point-blank range is roughly 1-3 yards.  This is the distance where if he has the will to dig in and fight we ought to expect to take damage (meaning we will be shot; probably repeatedly).  As we increase the distance beyond point blank range then it depends upon our adversary’s skill level.  Most street level bad guys do not have professional firearms training so shooting one handed without sight alignment means as distances increase there is an increased probability of missing their target.  If a bad guy holds his firearm with a proper two handed grip – that’s a clue you’re going to need a lot more distance (providing your skill levels can accommodate) or quick access to cover which means you get small behind that cover (as his target) while he remains large (as your target).

I can’t know anyone’s will by merely looking at them. Posturing is not the same thing as a person’s will. Likewise, sandbagging doesn’t mean a person doesn’t have the will to end me or mine. The will gets proven out in the combat.

Some might question if action beats reaction (and it does) then why not engage the deadly force threat? The principle of action beating reaction involves a very short window of time. Yes, action beats reaction though it is measured in fractions of a second. From studying deadly force confrontations when a person is expecting an action I’ve observed a reaction time as low as four tenths of a second. When a person is surprised we may see seven tenths of a second, and often we see a reaction of flight among bad actors to save oneself and get out of Dodge City. Initiative is critical in deadly force confrontations. But initiative must be balanced with opportunity. Innocents ought to remain watchful for the best timing to launch a counter defense (to strike) with surprise, speed, and violence of action!

When might I choose to draw on a drawn gun? 

#1  If the unjust criminal aggressor goes active!  Meaning the bad guy begins actively shooting, stabbing, or clubbing me, mine, or innocents. This is first in order because the time of deciding has ended and now a new clock has started ticking.  If you ignore his deadly attack and just hope he’ll have mercy on you, very soon you will no longer be able to stop his attack.  People can, do, and have lived after being shot or stabbed multiple times.  Does that mean you’re going to live?  There are no guarantees! However, failing to focus on stopping the threat increases the probability that he will end you.  Don’t look for mercy from an unjust criminal aggressor dealing out deadly blows. The only question you must now decide is; if you only have 19 seconds left on this earth what are you going to do with that time?  Stop the threat!  How?  Immediately and in as much as you can simultaneously move, draw, present, and shoot; repeatedly until the threat is eliminated or he shows clear and convincing signs of full surrender.  How do I define eliminating a threat? By driving the threat bearer down into incapacitation or a physiological stoppage.  Incapacitation means he’s paralyzed, unconscious, dying, or dead.  This is about removing the unjust aggressor’s will. The dying and dead part ultimately is God’s business not mine.  If the unjust criminal aggressor voluntarily decides to stop, which is called a psychological stoppage at any point prior to the physiological stoppage then I would stop!  Full stop as fast as is humanly possible.  

#2 If I believe the unjust criminal aggressor is about to go active! Circumstances go from sketchy to terrifying all within milliseconds to just a second or two. As you are reading or perceiving the developing situation you may not be able in that moment to fully understand nor articulate why and how you just knew a failure to act decisively means probable great bodily harm or death. In Gavin de Becker’s book The Gift of Fear there is an example of a woman who reported she knew if she didn’t escape she would be murdered. Later she was able to go back through the events and do the thinking and as she recalled step by step the bad guy’s actions she realized when he shut the window and turned up the stereo those were signs he was preparing to cover any screams as he went to the kitchen to obtain a knife. She later understood and could articulate how she just knew she would be murdered if she did not escape.

There are other legal factors that will later be challenged on the legal battlefield. Five factors include innocence, imminence, proportionality, avoidance, and reasonableness (both objective and subjective). A high number of unjust aggressors don’t worry so much about legal, civil, and social battlefields. They don’t worry about moral battlefields. They focus on the physical battlefield. The time for preparing for all of these other battlefields is beforehand. Do the thinking (and practice) beforehand so that in the moment you have developed a trained response knowing where all the lines are on the moral, legal, civil, and social battlefields. When a fight cannot be avoided you need to focus on winning the physical battlefield.

Some people refer to this kind of belief as following your gut.  In law enforcement sometimes we’d mention a kind of sixth sensei, intuition, or instinct where an officer might have a bad feeling about someone or some developing situation. Those who work, live, and kind of soak in exceedingly dangerous areas often develop an ability to perceive or read people and situations very quickly. Part of that might include non-verbal cues in facial or body language, positioning, and timing which add up to signs that we’d read sometimes faster than we might be able to fully understand or articulate.

I’ve written before in this Blog about my trust in my Guardian Angel. Catholics who have studied their Faith or listened to sound preaching will immediately get this. Catholics believe in the existence and activity of angels both good and fallen. Angels are messengers. If you’re Catholic and you haven’t ever heard this a bare bones beginning is the Catechism of the Catholic Church; #325-#354. I’m not going to dig down on explaining this. For my part, I believe.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter how or why you believe this person is about to go active because the context is an unjust aggressor is presenting an imminent threat of great bodily harm, or death via that firearm he’s reaching for, pulled, brandished, or pointed. Once that kind of threat exists, if I believe this guy is about to go active I’m not required to gamble even one tenth of one percent with my life or the life of someone I purport to love. That leads into the next reason.

#3 If the unjust criminal aggressor gives me a blind spot!  

If the unjust aggressor temporarily becomes distracted and while the threat is active and ongoing, he turns his back towards me giving me a blind spot OR ANY OTHER VULNERABILITY that might be exploited. Some would say: Unfair!  Unfair!  A great working definition for the word tactics is to gain an advantage in positioning, timing, and / or over the will of our adversary.  So what kind of advantage do you imagine we’re talking about?  If you guessed an “unfair advantage” you’d be correct.  This is why I sometimes write or coach that as part of legitimate defense one must be willing to do that next right hard and seemingly “dirty” thing.  Seemingly is a qualifying term.  It seems dirty because it’s unfair.  It’s not dirty! If you’re an innocent person of goodwill, gaining an unfair advantage to legitimately defend your life or the life of someone you purport to love is good, right, and just. This ain’t no game!  This is not a sport! This is a matter of life or death.  Common sense seems to be in short supply these days. It is common sense that an unjust criminal aggressor using the threat of death to gain his immoral, unethical, and illegal will (meaning his desires) has no moral, ethical, or legal rights to do so!

I have to make a distinction here.  What this does not mean is revenge or vengeance.  If an unjust criminal takes my wallet immediately, turns and begins running from the crime scene I’m going to be a good witness.  If once the threat is inactive or no longer ongoing I take up a sound two handed shooting grip and stance, and begin shooting down the road in the interest of revenge then I’m going to have a moral problem with God and a legal problem with the state. 

It is quite another thing to take advantage of a vulnerability, a poor tactic, or a bungleii, in positioning or timing (readiness) when their will to continue the deadly threat remains undeterred.  All that is required to stop this series of tragic events is a change in their will – a clear and convincing sign of full reversal of their deadly force threat!   If an unjust aggressor gives me his back or any other vulnerability this is a reason I might choose to exploit that vulnerability.  Do not wait until your adversary is quite ready or better positioned.  Where an unjust criminal aggressor presents an active and ongoing imminent deadly force threat (ie; he’s not fleeing the scene), innocent people of goodwill are not burdened with gambling with their own or they’re loved one’s life. 

#4 If this is a kidnapping type event!  

If an unjust criminal aggressor says; Get in the car!  Walk towards the trees! Move to the back room! Drive! The second crime scene is often a place of torture, rape, and death. With this circumstance I may look for a natural transition or I may attempt to create a transition by temporarily turning my body in such a way to give me a degree of surreptitious drawing. Transitions are inherently dangerous for everyone involved. If you learn to recognize natural transitions these are little windows of opportunity. Transitions are places where Mr. Murphy sometimes shows up and creates havoc (Murphy’s Law: if something can go wrong it will go wrong).  I might drop something and bend at the waist to pick it up to give me a chance at a surreptitious draw.  I might turn my body in such a way as to give myself the best chance for a surreptitious draw. I might fake a heart attack for the same reason. Whether the unjust criminal aggressor has buy in (meaning you acquire some degree of surprise) or not, once you go for your weapon system then it’s speed, and violence of action until the threat is eliminated or you enter eternity. Just like the unjust criminal aggressors of this world every man (or woman) has to decide what they do with the time that they’ve been given?

In conclusion, there are times where we may have to draw on a drawn gun or even worse from the drop. As it relates to tactics, strategy, and logistics, do the thinking beforehand.

i Sixth sense: a power of perception like but not one of the five senses : a special ability to perceive or comprehend : a keen intuitive power

ii Bungle: to do, make, perform, or handle clumsily or badly : MISHANDLE, BOTCH

90° Cut at the Apex Point

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A common tactic bad guys use is a near pass (often disinterested), with a 90° cut at the apex point; simultaneously clearing their cover garment with their weak hand (or just pulling it from a pocket), reaching and drawing with their strong or dominant hand, raising, pointing, and dominating their intended victim by threat or force. That pivot is a transition. There are opportunities for bad guys or good guys to make things happen during transitions. Likewise there are risks during transitions for Mr. Murphy (Murphy’s Law) to show up and wreck things for both the bad guy and the good guy. A person who understands how they may gain advantages in transitions has the potential to either make things happen or exploit their adversaries transition to their own advantage – that’s a discussion for another day. The 90° cut at an apex point is a highly effective tactic used by unjust criminal ambush predators. In my coaching I often bring up the fact that there are some tactics and skilled ambush predators that really are very good at sinking the ambush in deeply. This is one such tactic. The window of opportunity for a person of good will (officer or citizen) to avoid domination, a gunfight, or being killed, is exceedingly tight. That window gets measured in milliseconds to a second or two. Part of this tactic includes the bad guy telling you a story with their alignment (angle), disinterest, and body language. A person of good will can learn how to reverse engineer these underlying principles and learn to use some of these concepts to justly defend and protect themselves and those whom they love. In this post I’ll explore some limited aspects of this tactic. You will find my full YouTube video, the subject of this post here:

A Short Video on 90° Cut @ the Apex Point

How long do you think remained as a window of opportunity for the person seated in the vehicle?

My best educated guess is: It depends. What mindset did the presumed bad guy have as he used this tactic? Was he merely posturing with no real intention of shooting? Would he have shot reflexively or out of fear given another half second? Was he intending on shooting from the beginning? I’m not willing to gamble with my life or the lives of those I’m responsible for so I’m going to operate based on this last worst case scenario. In other words if he pulls (a firearm) I’m going to believe he’s going to use that firearm without hesitation. How long remained? I’m convinced only milliseconds remained before the window of opportunity slammed shut and this one person good guy shooting would have transformed into a gunfight at best, or a one person bad guy shooting at worst.

Obviously, most people who pass us daily are not bad guys angling to sink an ambush in deeply. There are a number of other considerations.  For instance dangerous areas, dangerous people, at dangerous times. Check out my other videos and blog posts where I’ve commented how to begin figuring out what signs to look for in determining dangerous men. The long of the short of that is how a person dresses, comports himself, marks or adorns himself (gang and prison tattoos), or in any other verbal or non-verbal way communicates to the world: I’m a dangerous man! We ought to believe men communicating to the world they’re dangerous! They’re either a want-to-be on their way to that goal, or they’ve arrived.

When in hunt mode some bad guys begin telling us stories via non-verbal communication such as alignment (angle), disinterest, or body language. Their story may convey: I’m no threat to you. I respect you. Sometimes the story means to induce us to feel sorry for them, perhaps even to feel a bit embarrassed for them. Feeling embarrassed may encourage us to look away – to give them a blind spot to maneuver and close distance with us. These niceties are social constructs (social norms), and as it relates to keeping my people or myself safe – that’s not my problem! That is their problem! Do NOT be taken in, or fooled, by an unjust social ambush predator’s clever stories. Remain awkwardly and steadfastly watchful. As a good rule deal with potential threats like a lion deals with a potential threat – head on. If you cannot bear to look directly at a potential threat (or if there are tactical reasons you’re choosing not to) at the least use your peripheral vision, a reflection, or some other means of preserving situational awareness.

Both unjust predator’s and trained warriors will operate with similar tactics. There are stark and radical differences between how and why a predator or just warrior (protector) acts preceding, during, and after a deadly force confrontation. They will move and work in the blind spots. When bad guys or good guys use violence of action to solve an unjust or just problem that action will look ugly to an immoral, weak, and corrupt generation.

Bad guys approaching from a frontal position will often use a disinterested near pass. They’ll give the appearance they have no interest in you at all. If they do have an interest in a meet & greet kind of surprise ambush (and the social skills to pull that off) then they’ll align direct with you and use their charms.

Bad guys approaching from the rear (since most people don’t really pay attention), know and understand they can walk right up and do whatever they want to you. A caveat here is most bad guys will likewise know and understand they’ll need to use a disinterested rear approach with law enforcement. Why? Good guys will use vehicle mirrors to maintain situational awareness.

Awhile back I did a video on a double shooting involving two Sheriff’s Deputies in Compton California. A news conference revealed the Deputies believed the suspect was simply going to pass by. How do you think those deputies came to that belief? They read and accepted what the bad guy was telling them through his alignment (angle), disinterest, or body language. Once that ambush predator arrived at that apex point he pivoted 90°, advanced, simultaneously drawing, readying up, pointing, and opening fire. An ambush predator who’s graduated from a street school of violence, with honors (magna cum laude, or cum laude) will know, understand and expect Police Officers to have good situational awareness. See the Compton shooting break down at:

Many people who seek to learn something about violence did not grow up in a high crime dangerous area, nor have they ever spent much time down range (as a potential target) in those areas. Many people seeking to learn have zero days attendance at a street school of violence. At times I’ve heard people pridefully write bad guys off as dumb primarily because of how they speak which seemingly shows forth a lack of education. The problem with that is education in the English language has nothing to do with education in ambush or counter-ambush violence. If you imagine competence with the English language somehow translates to how much schooling in violence an inner city gang member, a motorcycle gang member, or any other member of an organized criminal enterprise then you don’t know what you don’t know. Many of these folks have graduated street level violence with honors while increasingly many people of good will have not even been to the high school equivalent of home room. Some will argue they’ve studied a martial art. I studied a martial art from 12-15 years of age, and I’m telling you what I learned in Tae Kwon Do in the early 1980’s, is of no advantage in understanding how to deal with an unjust social or asocial ambush predator. I’ll stop there for brevity. Most people of good will who lack legitimate experience in violence are simply outclassed by a huge margin.

Near passes are often applied attacking a victims flank. Why? The predator desires the intended victim see how deeply the ambush is sinking in, which facilitates domination of the victim by means of fear. However, if the intention is assassination then the tactic gets applied from any angle of approach 360° around the intended victim. In downtown Portland far-left activist Aaron “Jay” Danielson, was in front of Michael Forest Reinoehl. Danielson was moving at an angle giving an appearance Danielson would only continue moving away from Reinoehl. This was a very clever story Danielson’s angle and alignment was telling Mr. Reinoehl. Suddenly Danielson pivots 90° and begins shooting Reinoehl. Danielson accomplished this in my estimation at a distance outside of point-blank range. Some ambush predators will have some fundamental firearms basic skills which means their apex point will be at greater distance than those who don’t have those skills.

Proximity is king. The angle of approach doesn’t matter. Acquiring the apex point is what matters. Danielson seized the initiative, achieved and maintained relative superiority and dealt out a lethal shot to Reinoehl. See that video breakdown here:

So what are better solutions? The best way to win – is don’t be there. If you see this coming the best tactic is drive away – take a little cruise. I’m often reminded of the song Rawhide in the movie The Blues Brothers (1980) where they sing ♫ rollin’, rollin’, rollin’.♫ Take a little drive and in a few minutes any opportunistic ambush predators will have trekked through the area and be farther down the road, then no longer your problem.

That said, sometimes you cannot avoid things. For instance, in my most recent video another vehicle sits parked in front of the presumed just defender and clearly a relationship exists between these two parties. You’re only as fast as the slowest member of your family, or group.

The second solution is get out of the vehicle and face the possible approaching threat. Why? You need to regain your mobility. In law enforcement we understood being seated in a vehicle as a tomb. Why would LEO’s consider a vehicle as a tomb? The long of the short of it is you lack mobility. All things being equal a person with mobility against someone who lacks mobility has a potential distinct advantage in rapidly changing their positioning. Potential sometimes does go untapped. Initiative is critical but you must know when (timing) to use it. There are moral, physical, and legal implications to timing.

I recall hearing John Lovell of Warrior Poet Society once give a kind of working definition of the word tactics: tactics are to gain an advantage in positioning, timing, and/or psychology. If what Mr. Lovell meant by psychology was the will of a man, then that is an excellent working definition of that word! I’d tweak that definition to:gaining an advantage in timing, positioning, and over the will of your adversary. Carl Von Clausewitz rightly taught that part of defining the word war comes down to the will of adversaries.

How do I attack my adversaries will? You must make you’re adversaries expected return on investment too costly! If I exit my vehicle and face a potential approaching threat he is going to see his probabilities of dominating decreasing. If he’s schooled in violence he’ll understand the probabilities of bad consequences like a gunfight, injury, prison, and/or death increasing.  A gunfight at point-blank range is often 50/50 mutual destruction.  Those with an intimate knowledge of violence whether through personal experience, seeing, or hearing how it happened to friends and family understand these costs.  By attacking the bad guy’s probabilities of success we attack his will. By showing him through positioning and timing the costs are too high – we attack his will. Once you’re in a physical battle then it’s about causing discouragement, despondency (losing hope), and ultimately despair (psychological stoppages). When the threat is imminent and deadly then I coach clients to orient towards a physiological stoppage which means to remove that persons will via incapacitation. If they reach despair (clear & convincing signs of full surrender) at any point before incapacitation, then I’d stop dealing out lethal blows as quickly as is humanly possible. I’d call 911 to report their attack on me or mine, and request an ambulance if they’ve been injured via self-defense or defense of another.

Below you’ll see a photo of me pointing a blue gun around a big old tree. Imagine if you were down range seeing your adversary has gotten really small with solid cover. Realizing you’re really large (as a target is concerned) with no cover what-so-ever! Would you like your odds? Cover – is – good.

There’s a well-known analogy involving a proverbial tactical tree and a belief that unjust ambush predators prefer low hanging fruit. But is it true? As with every tactical question you may ever ask the answer is just two words: It depends. Now we look to what it depends upon. I think it was Varg Freeborn author and instructor I first heard speak about bad guys expected return on investment. The bad guy’s return on investment is a consideration to how high he’s willing to climb in this analogous tactical tree. What are his motivations? What are the consequences of failure? How strong is ego or pride? Some predators will climb. But will they climb to the top way out on the thin branches? Why am I telling you this? Because we’re talking about an attack on the will. How do you attack or counter-attack someone’s will?

You have to make the cost too high of a price to pay!

In my most recent video breakdown the presumed good guy seated in the vehicle had clearly somehow graduated from a school of violence with the highest of honors – summa cum laude. Am I advocating you go out and attend a street education in violence? No! Of course not! Those who acquire knowledge in the same ways unjust criminal aggressors do will often suffer the same consequences as the unjust criminal aggressors – prison or an early grave stone.

The legitimate ways of acquiring this knowledge is experience down range as a potential target by becoming a police officer, joining the military (in select units), or studying violent game film and perhaps under an experienced coach who’s himself acquired it by one or more of these means.

May a 90° cut be rightly and justly used by a person of good will for just ends? Yes, absolutely! Oddly, after retiring I had occasion to use this tactic.  Again, for brevity I won’t dig down on that incident in this post. Suffice to say one of the lessons learned was this tactic is also effective at turning a person’s orientation (shoulders & hips) which clears out shooting lanes – both his and mine. Meaning had he pulled a firearm and shot at me (in my big ugly face) my backdrop was clear of any third-party innocents. Likewise, had I pulled a firearm and shot him, his backdrop was clear of any third-party innocents. That was critical (I wish I could say planned but it was just blessing or luck), as my wife and children were sitting in a parked vehicle nearby. That incident is a long story and thankfully ended peacefully without any physical blows or firearms being brought to bear.

Seizing initiative facilitates achieving and maintaining composure. Another word for composure, especially when tested by fear, is detachment.  One of my friends and former coaches taught me the greatest of all warriors have faith in God.  I promise you there is absolute pure gold in this truth.  Holy detachment flows forth from the grace of God.  Until you get serious about loving (meaning obeying) God you will stay mired down and attached to many and various things in this life.  Perfect love really does cast out fear. 

May God give us the grace for perfect love.

Spin Up to Violence; Escalating Self-Justification

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A few years ago a friend taught me something about escalating self-justification. My friend used to teach a crisis intervention course.  The gist was before most physical attacks we can behold escalation of insults, threats, or challenges.  Once he painted this picture in my head, I started to reflect on how this had played out to my or others advantage in many and various ways during my experiences in violence, and how this need could easily be exploited as a vulnerability to seize initiative and win the fight. Call to mind a playground fight that begins with one child insulting another, spinning up to insults about their mother – thereby self-justifying a punch in the face (at least in the child’s mind). We can extrapolate this to a couple guys in a bar posturing, insulting, or threatening one another, then take it farther to nations posturing warships, trading threats, or any form of saber-rattling. A social ambush predator is going to include some communication with their intended victim – that’s the social part. An asocial predator is not going to say a word but rather pull, point, and repeatedly shoot until you or yours are dead. Once you’re down and done they may add a few extra rounds in your dying body to ensure zero chance of recovery and testimony at trial. In this post I’m going to take a look at how some social ambush predators have a psychological need to feel self-justified as part of their spin up before using deadly force. Their psychological hesitation ought not be wasted as it presents a window of opportunity to a just defender. An opportunity to handle this deadly force encounter as a shooting juxtaposed to a gunfight. More on that later in this article.

In March of this year Metro Nashville, Tennessee Police Officer Josh Baker initiated a traffic stop on a black Camero. Long story short, the driver 31 year old Nika Nicole Holbert did not desire the officer to detain her in handcuffs as a result of Officer Baker finding suspected illegal drugs in her possession. She re-entered her vehicles driver seat. There Officer Baker attempted to taser her without any good effect. Ms. Holbert pulled first. Officer Baker demanded Ms. Holbert put her gun down and Holbert then shot Officer Baker first! Officer Baker then returned fire. Returned being the qualifying term. This had become a gunfight juxtaposed to a shooting. Duels are immoral and duels are dumb. Duels are exceedingly dumb at point blank range. Why? Each gunfighter need only raise their firearm and the torso of their adversary fills the entire backdrop of the end of their muzzle / sights. Gunfights at point-blank range often equal mutual destruction. Juxtaposed to a gunfight – shootings are smart because only one person (preferably the innocent defender) is doing all the shooting!

Those who have received proper instruction in a two-handed pistol grip and have acquired some marksmanship would benefit by pushing the fight out to greater distances. Criminal aggressors who shoot with a single-handed grip and no marksmanship skills are more vulnerable and at significant disadvantage at distances beyond point-blank ranges.

View the entire video of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department video news release.
Full Humilitas First Break Down of This Deadly Force Gunfight

Holbert is heard on the video saying “Help me, help! Help! Help! I didn’t do nothing.” Is this her sincere belief or is she prepping the legal battlefield for what she believes is (in her mind) a form of self-defense? Only she knew the answer. How have we come to a place socially where many believe we do not have to comply with legitimate authorities nor the rule of law?

The camera angle shows Holbert withdraw her hand to a place of concealment along her right side. I believe Ms. Holbert reaches down between drivers seat and center console filling her hand with a firearm then raising and brandishing that firearm. Officer Baker yells “Ma’am! Put the gun down! Put the gun down!” Holbert then shoots Officer Baker first, beginning the gunfight at point-blank range. Officer Baker is critically injured, though following surgery his status is determined to be stable and ultimately he does recover from his injuries. Ms. Holbert is not so fortunate and ultimately she dies of her gun shot wounds a short time later.

Self-justification and legal justification as defined by statutes and court precedents are radically distinct and often very different things. Legal justification is going to include legal concepts like innocence, imminence, proportionality, avoidance, and reasonableness (objective & subjective). Self-justification is one’s own unique sense of justice.  Self-justification may or may not properly line up with the above mentioned legal concepts. It will depend upon the disposition of the persons involved. Things like that persons upbringing, world view, ideology, education, training, experience, and other factors has been referred to as a persons filter. That filter through which we make decisions. The late Col. John Boyd gave the world the OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act). Boyd purportedly believed similar criteria had an impact on the orientation stage and the orientation stage was arguably the most important stage of OODA. It is my opinion a man or woman’s filter effects how we observe or perceive, understand, decide, and act or not act.

After promotion to the rank of Sergeant I had a grace to begin to understand my promotion was not about me, and my ego. Little by little I came to understand the authority given ultimately was a responsibility. A responsibility to strive to become a craftsman and grow in competence. Authentic leadership isn’t about you! Authentic leadership is for your people. As a result of that grace one area of responsibility I began taking seriously was striving to take good notes as it related to all quality training. Why? To gain great reference material for the benefit of the people I served. Having a hand written notebook is useless if you need the information quickly, so I learned the value of transferring my hand written notes into Word documents which could be searched digitally within each file or many files as a batch in mere seconds by searching out keywords. Great note taking regarding fundamentals and timeliness became even more important as I received the added responsibility of being a Field Training Sergeant. Field Training Sergeants are part of the Department’s Field Training Program which has the primary responsibility of supervising training new police recruits and ensuring recruits are capable of performing the duties of a patrol officer. Field Training Sergeants had opportunities to attend the best schools available, which was a great blessing for which I am grateful.

On May 12, 2008 I attended a department wide in-service training about basic active shooter. The following quotations were direct excerpts from the instructors manual; Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training – Basic Active Shooter Course I.

“Action is Faster than Reaction – Training to respond to threats lets first responders act, not react. This is critical because there are inherent limitations on a person’s ability to assess and respond to perceived threats. An individual’s reaction is always slower than the action that prompted the response.i


Officer must react to a threat before it manifest into an assault.ii

A window of opportunity opened wide at the precise moment Officer Baker see’s Ms Holbert display a firearm in her hand. A green colored timer counts up to .73 seconds. The color green is to convey this as the time for the officer to act decisively to stop this imminent threat of great bodily harm, or death. The timer resets and you see a yellow colored timer counting up to 3.07 seconds. The color yellow is to convey great caution is necessary as time is running out! The timer resets and you see a red timer counting up to 1.56 seconds. The color red is to convey the window of opportunity to engage in a shooting and avoid a gunfight has now closed! We’ve now entered a gunfight at point-blank range, which often means mutual destruction or at least mutual damage. Look at this short video showing this window of opportunity open and quickly close:

Humilitas First Commentary

Considering John Boyd’s OODA Loop, what was Officer Baker’s next Act?  Officer Baker see’s a gun, understands it is a gun, decides to warn, and then yells “Ma’am!” That was his next Act; “Ma’am…. put the gun down!” In law enforcement I recall being told an officer typically takes about 1.5 seconds to react to an action. Based upon my research and study reaction time (the whole OODA loop) is often closer to, perhaps even slightly faster than .75 of a second. For a person who’s already Observed, Oriented, and Decided, the Act part of drawing, pointing, and shooting is much quicker around .25 to just over .33 of a second. Understanding these action and reaction time frames we can know with a high degree of probability Officer Baker observed the gun being raised about .75 before he yelled “Ma’am!” If a person has received training (or experience), and they know what to look for we can keep response time down to around .75 of a second. Build in a trained response via role-playing scenarios and likewise we can keep reaction time down to the bare minimum. What does one look for in a hostile confrontation? Primacy of place goes to watching the persons hands. With experience you learn to simply ignore your adversaries mean mugging intimidation game face. Game face is often merely posturing. Game face doesn’t show me the strength of your will. We’ll find out soon enough what’s what, when your will gets tested in the combat. What I need to know is where your hands are, what they’re reaching for (Waistline? Pockets?), and what weapon is being pulled? Secondarily, presuming his hands are clearly visible and they remain visible, and empty, an adversaries eyes will often give hints to what’s next. Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) often catch folks stealing a quick glance to their right or left? Often that is where they will break and run. For an intended victim (non-police) unjust aggressors will often look to the logical location where a police officer or other witnesses would approach to intervene or witness what they’re about to do. Primacy of place or priority will always defer back to his hands. Where are his hands, are they reaching for concealed areas, and what are his hands touching, pulling, holding, raising, aligning, shooting, or otherwise using a dangerous weapon?

LEO’s learn quickly that unjust criminal aggressors lie and deceive both in their words and in their body language. I couldn’t care less what a suspected unjust aggressor is saying verbally or non-verbally (most of communication). I care about their actions. I learned early from experience body language ruses can absolutely purchase surprise. Compliance was a kind of test, as to whether force would be necessary. So long as we had compliance we had no errors, drips, or runs, as one Field Training Coach was fond of saying.

Presuming Officer Baker does not desire a gunfight at point-blank range what ought his next Act be? Officer Baker ought to draw, aim, and shoot repeatedly until the imminent threat of great bodily harm or death (initiated by Ms. Holbert) is eliminated. Whether Ms Holbert lives or dies depends, in part, upon what Ms. Holbert does in the following milliseconds or seconds. Ms. Holbert is free to do the next right thing at any point during this deadly force confrontation by immediately dropping the firearm and showing her hands. How is this no longer common sense?  I call that kind of full surrender a psychological stoppage.  It is the place where bad guys quit or give up. If Ms. Holbert see’s Officer Baker beginning to draw his firearm and instead she decides to maintain retention of, display of, and a brandishing of her firearm – well that is her choice! Officer Baker then would shoot Ms. Holbert until she relents suffering a psychological stoppage, or until she suffers a physiological stoppage.  A physiological stoppage means Officer Baker removes her will from the equation.  Ms. Holbert is shot repeatedly until a point of incapacitation; paralyzed, unconsciousness, dying, or dead. Seizing the initiative when the window of opportunity presents itself means gaining an advantage in timing. Going first when it cannot be avoided! Seizing the initiative with spin up means taking advantage of and exploiting a persons need to escalate via insults, threats, or challenges. Moving through that vulnerability to efficiently remove the imminent threat. While the social ambush predator is striving to get you to insult, threaten, or challenge (giving you their violent resume, as it were) you’re seizing initiative, achieving and maintaining relative superiority and then once they’ve suffered a psychological stoppage (clear & convincing full surrender) you are then throttling back. For those whose will omits of no change, you’re throttling forward swiftly dragging them out to that deep place of vulnerability; a physiological stoppage. I always have to clarify this last part as this cannot ever be about vengeance or revenge. When innocents permit uncontrolled anger to engage in vengeance or revenge then they have both a moral problem with God and a legal problem with the state. The dying and dead part is truly God’s business. It’s about stopping the threat – not murdering the threat, though they may still die! Once an Officer or any innocent person of good will see’s a clear and convincing sign of full surrender (psychological stoppage Eg; dropping the firearm), or upon observing the threat’s incapacitation (paralyzed, unconscious, dying, or dead), as soon as is humanly possible the innocent defender STOPS! If and when it is reasonable under totality of circumstances the defender further separates the unjust criminal aggressor from their firearm, and either renders aid, or facilitates paramedics response attempting to save the unjust criminal aggressors life. They remain on scene and contact legitimate authorities to report the criminal attack against them or theirs. This is how an innocent person of good will acts following a deadly force confrontation.

People endowed with free will make decisions. Those tasked with the responsibility to defend and protect (including your family) acknowledge or affirm the decision and then the consequences play out. This is common sense. Proposals to have innocent people of good will, stand down, and permit an unjust ambush predator time and opportunity to unjustly murder innocents is to engage in madness!

What happens after the deadly force confrontation, in part, (legally there’s a lot more) separates innocent persons of good will from an unjust social or asocial ambush predators. The violence part of the solution is going to look the same whether employed by the just or the unjust.   Violence is ugly, but as the famous quote by John Stuart Mill said; “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things…”

How does an unjust criminal aggressor respond after the violence?  In all probability a social or an asocial ambush predator will continue shooting even after clear and convincing signs of a psychological or a physiological stoppage. In all probability a social or asocial ambush predator will immediately flee the scene, destroy or hide their weapon, and they will not call for professional medical aid in effort to save the life of the person they just unjustly tried to murder.

At this point some will want to rip their garments and lament: What about giving a warning?!   At what cost?  Officer Baker did give a warning and Ms. Holbert shot him. It is a blessing he is still among the living.  A warning is often at best a gamble.  Why would a reasonable and sane person desire to gamble with their life or the lives of those they purport to love by betting upon the good will of an unjust criminal aggressor?  Does it make any sense to do that?  No – of course not! With what percentage are you willing to gamble betting against your family or your life in the interests and in the favor of a social or asocial ambush predator?  My answer is zero percent!  Why?  Because the actions of an ambush predator are unjust. Meaning the unjust man or woman covets something immoral, unethical, and illegal!  Who is so crazy, blind, or confused that they think someone acting by threat of force, or force, to gain what they immorally, unethically, and illegally covet has any rights to do such things? Am I going to truly love my family, my brothers or sisters in arms (when active), and my life – or am I going to have a false compassion, a false love for the unjust criminal aggressors? Think clearly!

In this present case Ms. Holbert is willing to present an imminent threat of great bodily harm, or death, towards an innocent officer whilst coveting an unjust freedom (freedom – has – limits).

Ms. Holbert’s act is immoral, unethical, and illegal.  In my old house warnings were only given if feasible. What considerations get weighed in determining whether a warning is feasible? First and foremost a question: Does the innocent person of good will (Officer or citizen) have time, distance, and cover? At point-blank range you have no time or distance. If you still have cover it’s about get removed via an imminent flanking movement as your unjust aggressor, closes with, or compresses in upon and around that cover. So no – a warning is not feasible!  Context is another consideration. Say the context was completely different. Hypothetically say a neighbor called to report Ms. Holbert was outside in her yard intoxicated and shooting at her garden gnomes. In this hypothetical, say Ms. Holbert lives in a municipality where you cannot go outside and shoot at your garden gnomes. That’s a radically different context than what we see here. Here Ms. Holbert’s problem is Officer Baker’s will to detain her in handcuffs. Ms. Holbert presents an imminent threat of great bodily harm, or death as the solution to her problem – NO A WARNING IS NOT FEASIBLE!

Think about these things.

iTexas State University San Marcos in partnership between Texas State University – San Marcos, Texas and the Hays County, Texas Sheriff’s Office.

iiTexas State University San Marcos in partnership between Texas State University – San Marcos, Texas and the Hays County, Texas Sheriff’s Office