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Friday, May 24, 2013

The "It Could Never Happen To Me" Mentality.

By Berkley R. Bruce

I'm sure we all know someone who has no interest whatsoever in any kind of self-defense or personal protection training or anything related. They remain oblivious and unaffected by the headlines, TV news and sometimes even when things happen uncomfortably close to home. These people suffer from the "it could never happen to me" mentality. They live under the delusion that bad things only happen to other people or only to certain types of people. They call people who train and prepare themselves paranoid, trouble seekers or think they live in fear. For the majority of people who practice some form of the Warrior Arts, this couldn't be further from the truth. These people simply exist and think in the real World, where bad things do often happen to good people.

Those with the "it could never happen to me" mentality, would do well to develop a more open mind and broader vision. They may come to realize that many of the victims they read about and see on TV, once felt like them. They probably subliminally chanted the same internal mantra, "it could never happen to me". Until one day, it did.

If you are one who harbors this mentality, realize that you may very well be taking your baby steps toward becoming a statistic. Once you fall victim to this thought process, you can easily fall victim to almost anything else. The World is not always a friendly, happy place. That is not a reason to become paranoid. Just a reason to become more educated, aware and real.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Martial Arts: 10 Reasons Why Your Martial Arts/Self Defense Training Will Fail You On The Street.

By Berkley R. Bruce

 *The opinions and techniques discussed in this article are in no way meant to substitute for actual instruction.

  Every year thousands of people sign up for martial arts classes and self-defense seminars. They have the expectation of becoming the next Bruce Lee or at least being able to hold their own, only to have their hopes dashed by reality later. First, lets take a look at the difference between learning a martial art and learning self-defense. Learning an actual art takes years of training and practice. In a time not so long ago, the martial arts were oftentimes the only means one had of defending him/herself. Proper training in an art then and now should follow the formula of basic philosophy, conditioning/techniques, forms and applications. Next comes intermediate concepts, conditioning/techniques, forms and applications. Finally advanced concepts, conditioning/techniques, forms and applications. The way this training was done in ancient times and often times still is in the homeland of the given art, would be considered abuse by modern Western standards. Many training centers here in the West are regulated "black belt" mills and geared toward sport, this leads to many of the most brutal and effective parts of the arts being left out.

Self-defense techniques for the most part are simply the applications of the foundation art or arts taught separately. This is intended now as it was in the past, to give one a "fighting chance" faster. Unfortunately, once again many of the most effective and brutal parts are left out and brutal is what you need to survive. This is not to say that someone cannot learn to defend themselves effectively in a short period of time. But we must first look at what is necessary to accomplish this.

10 Reasons why your martial arts/self defense training will fail you on the street.

 1) Lack of basic physical fitness- In an actual physical altercation against someone with every intention of doing you harm, you will expend a lot of energy fast, trust me here. You may be able to knock out everyone you meet until you meet that one individual that makes you go the distance. Train for endurance, the longer you can move and generate power the better your chances. I understand that fitness is subjective and not everyone can attain the fitness level of a top athlete. You should however try to be as fit as "YOU" can be. It takes a certain level of fitness to run away, if you have the chance. It is also important to choose an art befitting your body type and fitness limitations.

2) Improper physical conditioning- This is another main ingredient often missing in most people's training. There is undeniably a difference between a punch from a well conditioned fist and one that is not. If your fists cannot at the very least handle push-ups on concrete, they will not serve you well for effective punching. Also, if you've never been hit for real it could shut you down instantly.

3) Improper mental conditioning or mindset- An imbalance of confidence will not serve you well. Over confidence or lack of confidence can get you hurt or worse. If you must commit yourself, do so fully and without hesitation. Often times, people are taught to do just enough to get away. Courses designed for women are notorious for this mentality. What happens if that is not a option? Learn to fight to the finish if you have to.

4) Improper spiritual conditioning- All arts have a spiritual element or philosophy. Exercise and balance your "chi" regularly through meditation. Always, remain a student no matter what color belt or sash you wear. Be willing to learn from every experience you have. See life and the Universe as one big school.

5) Lack of training on "real life" surfaces- If you've only trained on the level floors and mats of your dojo, dojang or kwoon, you will be in for a surprise. Do some training outside on some not so forgiving surfaces while wearing your street clothes and shoes . You will quickly find out what does and does not work on uneven ground, wet leaves, loose gravel, wet grass or wet pavement. 

6) Too much time spent on flashy, unrealistic techniques- I know a low kick to the shin or ankle joint isn't anything special, but it will work much better on the surfaces mentioned above. Lower kicks are faster, harder to stop and allow for better balance and faster follow up. Also, Whenever possible train with others from systems different from your own. Put some real pressure on eachother. Brush up on your anatomy.

7) Lack of ground fighting skills- Unless you practice a style like MMA or Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, you will probably find yourself lacking in this area. As the old saying goes "In a real fight expect to go to the ground".

8) Lack of grappling skills- Again, unless you practice a style like MMA or Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, you will probably find yourself lacking in this area. Often times skills like joint locks, pressure points and throws and taught as after thoughts and not in depth enough.

9) Not working out or practicing on your own time- Life is hectic and our days are often full. Make time for mini workouts whenever possible. When other animals awake from sleeping, they do a full body stretch to prepare them for the day. Not a bad idea. When you go for a walk in a traffic free area with a curb, walk along the curb and see how long you can stay on it. Come up with your own "micro workouts", get creative.

10) Lack of training in the weapons of the times- In ancient times soldiers, warrior monks and everyday citizens were skilled in the weapons and implements of the day. In our modern times these include firearms, knives and just about anything else you can get your hands on. As a martial artist anything you pick up is an extension of you and is therefore a martial arts weapon. For example, short staff techniques are easily adapted to a broomstick or cane. Shooting when practiced for defense or combat is a martial art.

Hopefully, no matter what style or system you practice currently or are considering this has given you a few points to ponder. Take time to evaluate your fitness level, your techniques and your mindset. With a little effort you will easily see where the beautiful brutality was left out of your art.

Founder of Dragon Shadow Training Group. Berkley R. Bruce, is a NRA Certified Firearms and Personal Protection Instructor, NRA Range Safety Officer, State Of Nevada Concealed Carry Instructor, USA Carry Registered Instructor and Martial Artist based in Las Vegas, NV. Email:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Armed Defense/Concealed Carry: Myth Of The Untrained "Bad Guy"

By Berkley R. Bruce

Mindset of false security

   We live in a society that promotes a false since of security at almost every turn. People think that living in a gated community makes them safe from the rest of the World. They also tend to think that simply buying a gun and getting a carry permit makes them ready to take on zombies and anything else that may go bump in the night. Unfortunately, the skills necessary do not just magically come with your new gun or arrive in the mail with your permit. Many times even people who do seek further training, only get minimal training geared to allow them to win all the time in the training environment. This type of training will not prepare you for mutual combat.

People who buy firearms for home defense or concealed carry far too often imagine scenarios in which they emerge victorious against some dumb, unskilled criminal. They imagine themselves sending a home invader scurrying off into the night at the sound of a pump shotgun or the announcement of "I have a gun!" They see themselves valiantly defending themselves or loved ones and an assailant, who is frozen with fear and intimidation at their gun handling prowess. These are all possible endings, but don't expect it. Don't expect it especially if you bought a gun five years ago, got your carry permit and haven't racked the slide or unlatched the cylinder since. One of the biggest mistakes people make is underestimating the enemy, the second one is overestimating themselves. Don't expect to face only unskilled or untrained assailants.

The untrained bad guy myth dispelled

Apparently, criminals are not nearly as dumb, untrained or unskilled as most like to believe. In 2006, the DoJ released a five year long FBI study on felonious assaults on law enforcement officers. From a pool of more than 800 incidents, researchers selected 40, involving 43 offenders (13 of them admitted gangbangers-drug traffickers) and 50 officers, for in-depth exploration. Here are just some of their findings. Offenders, have more experience using deadly force in “street combat” than their intended victims, they practice with firearms more often and shoot more accurately, they have no hesitation whatsoever about pulling the trigger. “If you hesitate,” one told the study’s researchers, “you’re dead. You have the instinct or you don’t. If you don’t, you’re in trouble on the street….” Other findings include information on familiarity, weapon selection, concealment, shooting technique and mindset.


 Offenders began to carry weapons at the average age of 17, some started as young as 9. Nearly, 40% had some formal firearms training..i.e. military. Most practiced with their weapons on a regular basis in informal "ranges". Officers, in the study averaged about 14 hours of sidearm training and 2.5 qualifications per year.

Weapon selection

Mostly, illegally obtained handguns were used in the assaults. Usually obtained in street transactions or thefts. Sorry mainstream media, no firearms in the study were obtained from gun shows. None of the attackers interviewed were ever hindered by any law federal, state or local, that has ever been established to prevent gun ownership.


Offenders carried concealed most of the time. If not on their person, their weapons were never far away.

 Shooting technique

 Most offenders were found to be instinctive or point shooters, not aligning the sights while firing. Their hit rate using this technique was much higher than the officers.


Of the 50 officers in the study 36 of them had experienced hazardous situations where they had the legal authority to use deadly force “but chose not to shoot.” None of the officers were willing to use deadly force against an offender if other options were available.

Offenders were of a totally different mind-set entirely, they typically displayed no moral or ethical restraints in using firearms.


What does a study on "cop killers" have to do with you, the armed citizen? The guy who hasn't fired an entire box of ammo since you got your personal protection firearm? Answer, everything. The very same criminals that LEO's have to deal with are the very same type of people you're more likely to encounter as you go about your daily business. If you have to use your firearm or any other form of self defense, it will more than likely be against this type of person. Of course there are other types you must be on the look out for as well. There are terrorists foreign and domestic, insane rampage killers..etc. Does knowing just how skillful some of those "bad guys" are make you uncomfortable? Good. Sometimes, discomfort is the mother of inspiration.

*Research sources- Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on Our Nation's Law Enforcement Officers. Book available here 

And Force Science Institute.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Dry Fire Practice: Effective Practice That Preserves Your Ammo Hoard.

By Berkley R. Bruce

*Disclaimer: Techniques and tips described here are to be used at your own risk. YOU are responsible for your safety and the safety of those around you.

 Dry fire practice is nothing new. It is an easy, inexpensive and effective way to improve your shooting. During these lean times of ammo shortages and price gouging, it's time to take another look at it. It is effective for everything from brushing up on the basics to practicing advanced defensive and carry techniques. It is also a great way to teach new shooters the basics of safety and gun handling. Doing dry fire practice drills will certainly make your live fire time more productive. Afterall, if your rounds aren't going where you want them, that's no fun and you're wasting precious ammo.

There are many ways to practice dry fire, everything from putting a non-firing training barrel or "snap caps" in your real carry gun to totally electronic training firearms.

Personally, I like the "old school" method using my real firearms. This allows me to feel the actual reset and characteristics of a firearm that I actually carry and would have to use should the need arise. I know I'm going to get hate mail about "You don't need snap caps". I kind of like my firing pins and some firearms really do not handle dry fire well without a buffer. Real or electronic the rules remain the same.


First let's look at safety. Dry fire should always be done with an unloaded firearm.

1. Treat ALL Firearms as if they were loaded.

    Even if you're using one of the new high tech laser firing guns, treat it and respect it like the real

2. Never point the muzzle at anything you are not willing to destroy.

    See #1

3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.

    See #1

4. Know your target and what is beyond it.

    For dry fire practice make sure you have a safe direction in which to aim while you train. 
    You can also create one using a ballistic backstop such as the one 

Preparing for dry fire practice

* Determine the type of practice you wish to engage in.

* Set up a designated training area. Set up all your practice tools in this area i.e. training barrels, snap caps electronic training systems, shot timers etc. If you're only working on the fundamentals the above items should suffice. If you're doing more advanced practice such as defensive, concealed carry or competition you will also need the proper holsters, cover garments and other items from your EDC or competition rig. Many of the items that I use personally are available here.
* Unload live ammunition in a separate room just as you would for cleaning.
* Move to your training area with the action open.
* Make a visual and tactile inspection once again to make sure your firearm is clear.
* Make sure your training area is prepared and safe.
* Install your training aids.
* Begin your dry fire practice. If you take a break or your practice is interrupted, repeat the clearing and inspection ritual.

Practice makes perfect

Only you know the areas in which you wish to improve, drill types and repetitions are up to you.Whatever and however you decide to practice, aim for consistency (pun intended). For example consistency in the types of gear that you choose, types of firearms and how you wear or carry them. This will give you a chance to see which items and/or techniques that may or may not work for you in "Real World" situations. You may want to keep a training journal or make notes to chart your progress over time.

Ending your practice session

Once your practice session ends, clear your firearm of training aids and return it to your "live room" (action open) and leave it there. Once it is secured, then you may begin breaking down your training area if it is one that cannot remain static.

After action review

After everything is put away and secured use your down time to do a personal after action review of your practice. Write down your findings and review them. You may find that you were doing things that you did not know you were doing or that maybe that holster that you love may not allow you a full firing grip upon the draw. Always, try and keep things fresh and interesting in order to make you want to practice and improve. Whatever you do stay safe and amaze yourself.