90° Cut at the Apex Point

YouTube Grab

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.