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Are you ‘left-leaning’ in your DT training?

In your DT training, do your drills start “as far to the left of an attack as possible,” or do you simply practice getting out of trouble you’re already in?

That provocative question was posed during an ILEETA class by trainer Tony Blauer of Blauer Tactical Systems in Encinitas, Calif. It’s his contention that DT sessions too often start at the wrong point in an attack, while a different starting point might prevent the problem in the first place.

Take weapon retention training, for example. Commonly, Blauer says, training drills begin with your opponent’s hand already on your gun; you’re expected to execute an “intense, dynamic technique” that defeats his grab and puts you safely in control. That’s certainly a valuable skill.

But Blauer argues that “every time you start by practicing how to get out of an offender’s dangerous move that has already occurred, you’re unconsciously training your brain to let an attack happen. You’re possibly predisposing yourself to a gun grab. The pursuit solely of technique alone is probably the single greatest hindrance to properly defending yourself.”

It’s better, he believes, to begin to the left of – that is, before – an assault with instruction and rehearsal on how to read pre-attack body language and other threat cues.

“Training needs to include the prelude to an attack: when a disarming may be attempted, what tends to set it up, how a suspect initiates his move, and so on,” said Blauer.

That awareness will affect how we stand, what we see and how we move in relation to a potential assailant before he or she can make physical contact.

“For instance, an offender can’t grab your gun without a ‘target glance’ at it,” Blauer said. “If you’re alert for a suspect eyeing your weapon, that can give you an edge. Don’t ignore it. Just moving your hip may discourage an attack. We want to get out of the way before an attack starts, or at least learn to intercept an assault before the assailant actually makes contact, whether he’s going for a gun grab, a headlock, a bear hug, or whatever. We need to be totally alive and athletically engaged from the outset when we’re dealing with any subject. We can’t afford to delay a response until an attacker has already gained an upper hand.”

In preparing your “human weapon system,” what’s the cost of “starting practice drills as far to the left of an attack as realistically possible?” Blauer asked. “Zip!”

But what’s the cost of not moving the starting point in that direction?

“Possibly your life,” he said.

As part of the package, Blauer stresses the importance of having every trainee play the bad-guy role during drills. “Understanding first-hand what a suspect has to do to attack is an epiphany,” he said. “It radically changes your perceptions.”

Charles Remsberg has joined the Police1 team as a Senior Contributor. He co-founded the original Street Survival Seminar and the Street Survival Newsline, authored three of the best-selling law enforcement training textbooks, and helped produce numerous award-winning training videos.