Weapon Retention

Three times during my police career, I had to fight…

Three times during my police career, I had to fight to retain my service weapon. On two occasions it was during a street contact (both arrest situations) and the third was in the back of an ambulance during a probate detail to a mental hospital. What I am about to say will certainly anger a few trainers but it is true. During these attempts I did not use any of the weapon retention techniques that I had been taught.

Does this mean that normally taught techniques are not good? Certainly not! I just used more basic moves than what I had been shown. Early in my police career, I was greatly influenced by an aging World War I veteran. During a discussion about close quarter trench warfare, he told me his instructors once said that during a hand-to-hand fight, “If you can affect their ability to see and or breathe then ye shall win the day!”

I never forgot these words and on several occasions they helped me end confrontations quickly on the job that could have dragged on if I had used conventional joint manipulations for pressure point control tactics. The best thing to do in any fight is to end it quickly.

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  • With all the consideration I have for your author (and, generally speaking, for all people who try to make things change in an effective way), I’d like to give him (and you) the results of my own researches and experimentations.

    Indeed, securing the gun with only one elbow seems not enough for me when the attacker firmly and violently acts in total surprise, which creates stress. The weapon must be “secured“ very firmly.
    That’s why, in my “Tengu“ system, I suggest covering completely the threat with strong hand, in other words grabbing firmly, downwards, the exposed and threatened area, which is your weapon in its holster (still whole or just a part of it). At best, you’ll thus managed to prevent the weapon from being taken by blocking (from above) the attacker’s hand who has already taken it. At worst, if the weapon is already being taken, you can lever it up and start a twisting action on the opposing hand (which is holding the stolen gun). Be careful: one shouldn’t grab the wrist, but the attacker’s hand which must be crashed (as if with a pair of pliers) in its own hold! This type of action must become a fast reflex, exactly as if you were trying to protect your keys ou your wallet from your back pocket, with a strong twist to your right side. There is a French idiom which suits perfectly here “ to be caught with the hand in the purse“( = to be caught red-handed in English)…You need to stop the gun where you know it is, with or without the opposite hand which is already on its grip. The other good point about this method is that it’s simply the same one as in the first phase of a draw. You are thus making a generic action your muscular memory will find right away. No time to think about having a back-up gun: you need to focus and act with all your strenght on the “ steady point “ which is the whole “holster- gun- opposite hand “. If you lose its control, there won’t be any second chance.

    I totally agree with Dave Spaulding about the defense and counter-attack action that must be violent, determinated and tough. It’s a hand-to-hand fight for survival. Thanks and congratulations to Dave for drawing everybody’s attention on this possible situation which is too often neglected by guns owners.

    Roland Habersetzer
    Budo Research Center – Tengu Institut (FRANCE)
    mail: roland.habersetzer@tengu.fr