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Bringing a knife to a gun fight, part 2: “Bridging the Gap”

In last week’s article about the Tueller Drill, it was pointed out that a knife attack can be deadly to someone on the receiving end as far away as 30 feet. If an officer is charged by an attacker at this distance or closer while the officer’s sidearm is holstered; it will be too close to effectively draw his weapon, fire and stop the attacker.

The only weapon that can be deployed in an incident such as this is one that is already in the hand. In the past we have discussed improvised weapons and the importance of training and this is the reason why. When your hands are totally empty in this situation, the best thing to do is to bridge the gap.

Bridging the gap means closing with your attacker and getting “inside the kill zone”, as Close Quarter Combat Instructor Ernest Emerson calls it. The ideal way to do this in what would never be an ideal situation is to throw your hands up to protect your face and thrust your arms forward and up along with your hips as the attacker moves in. The advantage is that you have just stepped inside his area of effectiveness, making him less effective.

As the hands go up and toward the attacker and you move in, do not think of it as a blocking technique. The outer sides of the arms may offer more protection should the blade strike, but if you are struck, you will be cut. The idea is to get in as close as possible to take the attacker’s advantage of reach away from him.

From here, the fight for your life starts. A background in one of the grappling arts such as jujitsu, judo, wrestling or Sambo can be beneficial as hip throws and various holds can be applied from here with ease. For that matter a striking background in karate, boxing or Muay Thai can come in handy and the officer can move in with a strike or preferably a flurry of strikes to end the threat.

However, most officers are not trained martial artists. Some trained earlier in life but have stepped away from it and few have the desire to keep at it. However, this basic move can be done successfully by someone with little training.

If the bad guy is armed with a pool cue, stick, pipe or a blunt trauma weapon, there may be less risk associated with grabbing it or attempting a disarm. However, do not ever attempt to directly disarm a charging attacker armed with a blade. Some martial arts or combatives instructors claim to teach their students how to take a knife or a pistol away from an attacker in mid attack. It can be done in a controlled environment such as a gym. Unless you are a martial artist who practices that move constantly for hours a day, for days on end, for many years, with opponents of all sizes and levels of ability; it will not work on the street against someone determined to end your life.

About Mike S.

Mike has worked around firearms his entire adult life starting as a Marine Rifleman at 17 and continuing as a gunsmith, ballistician, instructor, consultant and writer. An avid shooter and martial artist, he has written over 1000 articles about Mixed Martial Arts, boxing, knives and firearms for online media and print magazines such as RECOIL, Gun Digest's Tactical Gear, Blade, and SWAT. 


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