OSD 184: It works in practice but does it work in theory?
These intelligent options will increase your survivability.
ESPN ran a profile this week of Dale Brown. You’ve seen him on YouTube. He runs the Detroit Urban Survival Training channel, offering self-defense tips of, shall we say, controversial utility.
A key excerpt from the piece, from a passage where Brown visits the gym of an MMA fighter named Marcus Kowal:
[Kowal] then interviewed Brown for 20 minutes, and Kowal gently probed on Brown's background. It’s a perfect synopsis of the gulf between how martial arts instructors see teaching versus how Brown sees it.
Kowal wants to hear specific teachers and achievements within martial arts from Brown. But Brown emphasizes that he has an eclectic background involving lots of sporadic training within a slew of disciplines. He says his training can’t and shouldn’t be evaluated based on sports success, that it works in real life instead of tournaments.
There’s a lesson here similar to what you hear from GWOT special operations veterans. They spent the ‘90s practicing techniques that seemed good in training but had never been put to the test in real life. Then they went to war and realized they’d been practicing bullshido.
On one end of the spectrum you have, say, Brazilian jiu jitsu, which you can practice full-bore, with an opponent who’s resisting as hard as humanly possible. On the other end you have, say, aikido, which is practiced in theoretical terms with a compliant opponent. And gunfighting is somewhere in between.
It’s not quite that techniques you don’t practice full-bore can’t work. They might. It’s that you can’t know if they work. The definition of expertise is that your efforts predictably lead to positive outcomes. The better your expertise, the more predictable and the more positive the outcome. That’s why experts get paid well. So if you can’t accurately predict that your techniques will work, you’re not a real expert.
Put all that together and the conclusion is pretty broad: the only valid experts are those whose techniques can be practiced for real.
So where does that leave all the gun instructors on Instagram?
In BJJ you can roll with a buddy and tap if he gets you in a good choke. But you can’t go to the range and tap when he Mozambiques you.
There are a few workarounds for this.
The first is to break “gunfight” down into smaller pieces. True, you can’t fully simulate a gunfight. But a gunfight will include a holster draw or a ready-up. It’ll include fast target acquisition. It’ll include fast, precise shots. All of those subcomponents are things that you can practice at 100% speed.
The second is to include an “opponent”. The test for a technique is if it can overcome a fully resistant opponent. That could be a human, but it could also just be the surprises inherent to a real-life emergency. Get a couple airsoft guns and try out scenarios (a mugging, a home invasion, an old west standoff, whatever) with a friend. You’ll be surprised how quickly your fundamentals — day-one basics like grip and sight alignment — go out the window when you’re not the only person with a vote. And over time, as you practice, you’ll be able to navigate surprises without losing your fundamentals.
The third is to let others’ real-world experiences be your practice. Keep an eye out for defensive gun uses in the news, whether they go well or poorly. They all have lessons to teach.
This is something the training community has woken up to recently. Gun instruction in 2022 is miles ahead of where it was in 2012, because social media has established a feedback loop where training immediately gets measured by its real-world applicability, and then trainers fold those lessons back into their curriculums. Bullshido is still out there, but it gets spotted faster and faster over time. Apply the same approach to your training. Learn, test, and iterate.
This week’s links
Our own Kareem Shaya joins the Gun Owners Radio crew for a 20-minute conversation about making new gun owners.
I Did a Thing collaborated with Brandon on a video and then turned their version into something pretty hostile to the idea of gun rights. Brandon then posted his own video which, besides being entertaining, is a classy rebuttal.
As Bob Keller says, excellence in the basics is how you get good at something. This new release is a thoughtfully basic OWB holster from T.Rex.
A short documentary about a woman who discovered gun rights after growing up in a country where guns were synonymous with war and negativity.
Kirby Allison flexing on ‘em. Fun walkthrough of what it’s like to buy a Purdey.
OSD office hours
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