Gun Disarms and Grappling Initiation

Last night in adult class we worked gun disarms against an attacker holding the gun at you from the front, the side, the back, and with you being held as a hostage, all with the gun at different levels (aimed low, aimed at the chest, aimed at the head, aimed at someone else, etc.), and we ended with working to stop someone as they reach for a gun.  The last time I worked gun disarms it was only against someone holding the gun to your head from the front and while the techniques used were not quite the same, the basic concept was–move off-line from the muzzle, control the gun, control the wrist, elevate the muzzle and force it back toward the attacker.

The first disarm that I had learned before was that, with the gun held to your head from the front, you drop into a low stance (and I do mean “drop”–don’t just move to a low stance) and as you do you push the gun up with both of your hands, gaining a grip on the gun and the attacker’s wrist.  From there we kicked them in the knee or groin and twisted the gun straight back toward them (the muzzle moving only on the vertical plane–moving it horizontally leaves others in the area in danger) until they lost their grip.  This works particularly well if they tell you to raise your hands because they will be expecting you to be moving your hands upward, but when you suddenly drop you are clear of the muzzle and by pushing it up higher you clear anyone who may be behind you.

The method of taking the gun away was the exact same last night in that we gained control of the gun itself and the attacker’s wrist and twisted the gun toward them along the vertical plane to break their grip on it.  We also worked twisting on the horizontal plane but with the acknowledgment that it would be something we only did if no one was around and that using the vertical plane was safer.  The general method we used was that you should not bring your hands any higher than the gun when told to put your hands up in order to minimize movement, then to move off-line from the muzzle (same concept as dropping below it in the first method I learned), and then disarm.

Doing this from the front was fairly straight-forward, but it became interesting when we moved the attacker to our side or behind us.  With the gun stuck in your side you only have to turn a very short distance to clear the gun, at which point you can grab and disarm.  With the gun stuck in your back, however, you suddenly cannot see the weapon and have to move much further–this resulted in much clumsier disarms which, of course, equates to a more dangerous situation.

With someone holding you hostage you will have the advantage (as much of an advantage as there can be in that situation) of the fact that the hostage taker will likely point the gun at other people at some point.  If they keep the gun pointed to you it actually does not take much movement to move off-line and pin the gun against their body, but be aware that you will be severely burned if the gun goes off.  With the gun pointed at someone else, however, you suddenly have the advantage of already being off-line from the muzzle and you can see the condition of the gun; What type of gun is it?  Does it have a hammer?  Is that hammer forward or locked back?  Is there a safety?  Is it on?  These are things you can consider as you grab control of the weapon because you could turn a safety on, hold a hammer back or forward, or hold a revolver cylinder from turning if the hammer is forward.  Another thing to consider is that there are probably a lot of police around in this situation and they are just waiting for their chance to jump in, and the last thing the bad guy expects is for his HOSTAGE to grab the gun.   Doing so gives the police a huge opportunity to save you.

With someone who has a gun (or any other weapon) and moves to draw it during an altercation (whether they are walking up to you menacingly and you have no idea why or you are in a fight with them) your biggest concern is stopping them.  When they move, you have to move or that gun will be pointed at you and, quite likely, the trigger will be pulled.  We worked jamming their arm so that they could not remove the gun from their belt or inside their gi, similar to what we would do against a holster or jacket pocket, and then worked to isolate them and control them with a shoulder lock to keep them from being able to reach the gun again.

The biggest thing to remember with gun defense is that there are no guarantees–you could drill these techniques and others for 20 years and still get shot if you had to use them because you can’t control everything.  If someone points a gun at you, they only have to move half an inch to pull the trigger and you have to move at least a foot to disarm them, so the danger is incredibly high.  Remember, also, that you do not always have to act–if they really just want your wallet, toss it on the ground and let them have it.  Some things aren’t worth the risk.

On a lighter note, after class one of the other people stayed after to work on his grappling with me.  He typically attends Jujutsu classes but has recently started coming to karate, so I figured he might like working something he is more comfortable with.  We started out with the intent to just roll, but after I quickly maneuvered him into an armlock he asked me a good question–how do you start groundwork?  For the purposes of randori (grappling sparring), when you start groundwork randori you start from one of two positions–kneeling and facing each other or back-to-back with your legs crossed.  In either case, the first thing you generally do is try to get a grip on your opponent, and wanted to know what to do once you do that.
I started him with three basic methodologies–the guard pull, the climb over, and the Judo method.  The guard pull is pretty obvious and was the easiest one to show him because you simply get your grip and quickly pull guard, and he knows what to do from guard.  The climb over is something I generally experience from wrestlers where they will try to pull you down and climb over your back so they can either go for a Guillotine choke or to spin around and take your back.  For this method I showed him some simple techniques–taking the back to go for a choke, going for the Guillotine, and turning into a shoulder lock.  The Judo method is what I typically do and can be applied to either of the previous methods because it is simply controlling your opponent’s movement and using it against them to either knock them down, pull guard, or climb over the top.

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About Noah

I began training in karate (Shuri-Ryu) in the Summer of 2006. Subsequently, I started training in judo, kobudo, and iaijutsu within the next 6 months. During my training there, I earned the rank of Sankyu (3rd Degree Brown Belt) in Shuri-Ryu, Gokyu (Green Belt) in judo, a certification in the use of the bo, and passed proficiency tests for the four tachigata of Shinkage-Ryu iaijutsu. I moved to Arizona in the Summer of 2008, and continued training and researching karate at home. I continued regular training in judo at a local club until 2010, when I was able to start training in Shorin-Ryu with Sensei Richard Poage. I have been training with him ever since, and currently hold the rank of Shodan (1st Degree Black Belt) in Shorin-Ryu under him. In addition, I began studying KishimotoDi under Sensei Ulf Karlsson in 2014.