Firearms Threats - Movies vs. Reality,


Movies vs. Reality

In self-defense training there is an element of dealing with firearms threats. Looking at 99 % of the problem solving, aka techniques, we see in social media, makes me think that do we actually train for reality of for a movie scene? 

Movie Scene training

In the movies, the hero generally wins. In real-life this is our goal also. We are the heroes of our own self-defense scene. We need to understand that our co-actor(s), the attacker(s), think the same about their role. That creates a challenge: there can't be two heroes in the movie-scene.

How to train to be the hero of the fight

In these techniques, the emphasis seems to be on speed but are lacking the opponent reaction to the defender's movement. This makes everything work. Also, very few are really testing these with, say BB-guns or other "safe" firearm type of equipment. Also not in a way that the threat-poser putting up a fight or even just reacting to the defender's action.

Just by using the Kravmagacoach "active attacker" - method (attacker defending him-/herself against our action) we can test our real ability to apply the techniques we are using. This turns your movie-scene training to reality training very fast.

By focusing on this, we are again a lot closer to reality training than a movie-scene!

Disarm or Disable?

It seems that in most of the action against a firearms threat focuses a lot on disarming. The real problem isn't the weapon, it is the person holding the weapon. Yes, you must not be in the wrong end of that hole in the barrel but if you focus on wrestling over the weapon, the chances are that your attacker, per assumption bigger, stronger, better, will win that "match". Once you are inside of that barrel-line or you have deflected it away, focus on disabling the person holding that weapon. My favorite saying:" it is a lot easier to handcuff an unconscious person". It can easily be adapted to:"it is a lot easier to take the weapon away from an unconscious person". 

Again, what if the weapon is attached to the attacker? Now, if we have conditioned ourselves to the disarm and in the middle of the fight find ourselves trying to do the disarm and something is wrong:" I can't get it off the person! " We can't understand that in the middle of the action and that gives our opponent a chance to get over the shock of being attacked. Let's not let that happen! Let's not get good at that thing!


Active attacker(s). Let's start the reality training from the first class with firearms threats (as with everything else) by adding the active attacker to the equation.

+1 Attack method. Let's stop training in phases but put the "+1 attack" method in use immediately: how will you continue your movement until the problem is solved.

Integrate tactics to the training.  The fight starts way before the physical action. There are always limitations, mental distance, physical distance, lighting, environment etc.. In the movies everything works, let's create the emotional stress that turns into physical stress. 

Analyze and debrief. Take videos, write down how you felt, what went through your head, was your body doing what you had trained it to do, if not, what did it do, how to make that stance and movement your everyday movement etc.. 

Practice and refine. After the training session it is time to practice the movement from the stances and body positions your body went naturally. Not the clinical ready stance but the real self -defense stance in that particular moment.

Want to learn more? 

Check out the self-training platform! 

About the author:

Tommi Nystrom, 5th Dan Krav Maga, is a Finnish Personal Security and Self-Defense expert. He has helped people and organizations to stay safe for over 30 years. Focusing on developing the skill-set that will work under pressure, he is constantly developing better training methods to help people learn faster to get good at the right things.

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