Your Tactical Training Scenario- Three Difficult Disarms

Written by Greg Ellifritz

Topics: Tactical Training Scenarios

  • SumoMe

Written by: Greg Ellifritz

Two students practicing gun disarms in the context of an active shooter.

Two students practicing gun disarms in the context of an active shooter.


Most of the gun classes I teach involve tactics at extremely close range.  When you are within arms’ reach of your assailant deflecting his muzzle or taking his gun away from him is often faster than drawing your own gun to shoot.


There are lots of systems ranging from traditional martial arts to military combatives that teach gun deflections/disarms.  Most work OK in the dojo or training hall, but fail miserably on the street.  Failure occurs when the street attacks look NOTHING like  the ones practiced in the dojo.  When the defender is faced with a situation he hasn’t seen before and tries to adapt a technique he learned in the dojo, he often fails miserably.


I have linked to three news articles below.  Each of them presents a weapons disarm scenario that is very difficult to successfully negotiate.  Each of these situations is one that is rarely practiced by ANY combative systems.  Take a look at the articles and my analysis and see if you can improve your readiness.


Store Robbery

Watch the video…

The robber is very calm and doesn’t give any indicator that he’s about to rob the place other than suspiciously keeping his hand in his pocket as he approaches the counter.  He draws the gun as soon as the clerk opens the register to give him change.  He stays alert, repockets the gun when the cop comes in, and casually walks away.


Note a couple of things…


The robber is amazingly cool under stress and very aware of his surroundings. If you were fighting him, how would you be feeling? This calm? Who has the advantage?


The gun is in LEFT hand. The criminal’s finger never leaves the trigger.


If you had to deflect or take this gun because you thought he was going to shoot, how would you do it? A serious question for Krav Maga students….as much as I like the Krav gun stuff, would “gun from the front” work here? The barrier of the counter prevents you from blasting in and delivering the punch you need to deliver. Also, how are you going to pin the gun?


Other disarm techniques depend on controlling the elbow of the weapon bearing limb.  Could you get to a position where that is even possible in this case?  Not likely.


None of our dojos have counters like this gas station.  When we only teach techniques that depend closing the distance and striking or working takedowns, we limit our responses if such distance closure is prohibited by an intervening barrier.


I really think everyone needs to learn multiple gun disarming techniques. A two-handed grab is probably the only thing that would have worked in this spot.


Also, the attacker was left handed.  How often do you practice left handed disarms?  The mechanics of some systems work differently between right and left hands.  If all your training partners are righties, you may not be prepared.


Family members close to the defender


The case above turned out ok.  The next one ended up with far worse consequences.


This article describes a man who made the decision to fight when an armed robber attempted to take his jacket. He began wrestling with the criminal over the gun and the gun was fired. The round hit the victim’s own young son in the head.


Some points to ponder…

1) When you practice gun disarms (or any other fighting skills) do you consider that your children may be with you at the time of the fight?


2) Would you utilize some techniques if you were alone, that you wouldn’t do if you were with your kids?


3) Do your children know what to do if mommy or daddy has to fight?


Integrate your children or loved ones into your self protection plans. I bet this father wished he had.  If the bullets start flying your kid should be as far away from you as possible. Standing instructions to non-combative loved ones should be: “If we are is a bad situation, immediately do whatever I tell you to do. If I don’t tell you what to do and I am in a physical fight or I draw my gun, get as far away from me as possible and call the police.”


The presence of innocent parties in close proximity is a situation most of us haven’t practiced.



Robbed while you are inside your car.


This article describes a robbery where the robber targets a victim who is sitting in his parked car.
Imagine the following scenario:


You are sitting in your car with your window rolled down. A man (who appears to be homeless) walks up to the window and asks you for some spare change. Being a charitable person, you start digging in your pockets for money to give him. As you do so, he draws a pistol and sticks it in your face before ordering you to hand over your wallet.


What do you do?


First, notice how easily this can be prevented…better awareness, rolled up windows, locked doors, and the ability to say “NO”. If all else fails, driving away on the robber’s approach would have solved the problem.


When you let it get this far, you really get yourself in trouble. You are really at his mercy unless you have both good physical skills and a weapon.


For my CCW friends, just having a gun isn’t enough. Drawing your gun while you are being held at gunpoint is usually suicidal. You need a physical skill set to enable you to access your piece.


Similar to the situation where the counter was between you and your attacker, the car door here serves as a substantial barrier.  You can’t get close enough to him to put weight on the gun and you can’t deliver any powerful strikes.


What about the seated position?  Your practiced skills may work well when standing, but how do they work when you are seated (or alternately, in a kneeling or laying down position)?


Weapon disarm training can’t be so doctrinaire. You must be able to adapt to the circumstances at hand, no matter what they are. All good disarm programs should contain three elements:

1) Gun deflections leading to a draw of your own weapon (whatever that is)
2) Gun deflections leading to empty hand physical attack
3) Gun takeaways


If your program doesn’t contain all three options, you are missing some critical elements in your training.


If you carry a gun or a knife for self protection, you need the physical skills that will allow you to get to that weapon.


If you train in combatives, practice dealing with these hard scenarios.  Inject some barricades, some seated positions, and some innocent family members into your training scenarios.  You’ll be much better prepared if you do.



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3 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Tom says:

    Excellent article! I look forward to your articles every day.

    I teach Krav Maga and I think you are right, many instructors probably don’t teach the scenarios you are talking about. I have had the sincere blessing of learning under IDF-trained instructors and IDF instructors themselves, and these particular instructors *do* treat things like having obstructions/countertops/tables between you and the bad guy with the weapon, carjacking/fighting inside cars, having innocents nearby, etc. The whole spectrum of Krav. The instructors I have had were used to dealing with training for airline/bus hijackings and other super-close-quarters and heavily-obstructed environments with innocents on all sides. We also did a lot of what we called “survival night” drills, basically a no-rules, free-form engagement between multiple good/bad guys with weapons (the only rule being don’t seriously hurt anyone as part of the drill). Thanks for such a good analysis and pointing this out.

  2. Logan says:

    I also teach Krav Maga and you were very correct in this article, well put.
    I do believe it may be possible to set the cash piles down closer to the left hand of the attacker which is holding the firearm. Making sure to distribute the cash in a few piles as not to drop it all at once and perhaps on the last drop of cash shoot in for (Both palms facing down) 80/20 grip so that your right hand is grabbing the muzzle hand and your left hand grabs the back of the slide, (option to slam the hand down onto counter as he was not touching the counter with his knuckles), then twisting off the back of the slide with the left hand, pushing in with the right hand to form that 80/20 twist motion. It’s all speculation. Just tried it with a co-worker and it seems to work great but as you stated, this criminal is so calm, that the best of students would have a hard time matching his calmness.
    Love your videos man, keep up the great work!

    • Tom says:

      I mostly agree, especially with the idea of not giving up the money in one lump, but keep in mind also the attacker here has his core up against the counter. With the gun in close retention to his core, the attacker has a distinct advantage. We never want to go after an “arm wrestling” or “tug of war” situation, with your extended arms vs their arm up close to their core. In general, without an enormous physical advantage, the one with extended arms will simply lose. I would say that the best thing would be to try to get the defender’s own core up over the counter and onto the gun/arm area while pinning it down to the counter and off on an angle. Especially because this defender is smaller in stature, he may very well get dragged and go for a ride over the counter if the attacker reacts by trying to pull the gun back. It’s a difficult situation, indeed, but I would still urge getting the defender’s core on top of the attacking hand as it is pushed off the line of attack. The taller and wider the obstruction, relative to the size of the defender, the harder it is to deal with. The defender’s height and arm length are outside the control of the defender (which are the key elements that make the counter hard to deal with), he was born that way, but he can be in enough physical shape to get his body over the counter and onto the attacking arm. His ability to get over the counter, he is in control of. If the defender can get his core up onto the counter and pin the gun down, he can do a more or less normal wrist/barrel rotation to drive the gun out. If instead he gets dragged over the counter in the process, and is in enough shape to be able to keep the gun pinned to himself (meaning, muzzle to the side, not into himself) as it happens, then he stands a chance of bringing the attacker to the ground and/or throwing the attacker’s OODA loop so far out of wack that he just abandons the attack and runs.

      Certainly, it’s a hard situation to be in. I would envy no one caught in any similar situation. Unfortunately, you can see the defender has no prior training, watch how he drops the cash at arm’s length. Krav and many other disciplines teach to go *into* the attack, to attack the thing that’s attacking you. But at least he told the officer what happened and it looks like the majority of the cash remained behind when the attacker left. I don’t know the rest of the story, but hopefully the bad guy got caught.