Reaction Time – Get the Advantage

runningReaction time is something that we take for granted and don’t train enough for self defense situation. Many myths and sayings that if you’re armed with a weapon, you are the bad ass and can’t be touched. However, in real life things happen quickly and when we’re reacting at close distance, chances are our reaction time will always be slower than the initiator.

The late Bruce Lee used to do this demonstration highlighting how fast he was. He would tell a volunteer where he would strike the person and have the volunteer block his strike. Nobody could block his strikes and its not that he was faster.

He just understood neuro-muscular reflex, reaction is always slower. I did get a chance to experience the same effect with Cliff Lenderman (Tacoma based Martial Arts Instructor & long time friend). As I said, if you’ve never experienced how slow it is to react to someone’s else action, you may not fully understand about “reaction time“.

In a self defense situation reacting by drawing your firearm may not be the best answer. Let’s be clear if face in a possible lethal force situation and if justified, drawing that gun would be right. But, in many cases if you draw the handgun, this can open you to criminal and civil penalties.

The purpose of this article is to give you some defensive options based on reaction times and distances. You will understand distances plays a huge role in defensive reaction time. Even if you’re faced with that possible lethal force situation and using a firearm is the primary choice.

Reaction Time – 21 Feet
We understand from the Tueller drill that it takes an attacker to be on you within 2 seconds from 21 feet. The following is an average break down of possible responses and times.

-Concealed or Duty-Rig Handgun Draw 1.5 seconds – Represents time to first shot, not many shooters will be at this level, only high level shooter. In terms of stopping the threat, for this illustration 3 well placed rounds will get the job done. Each shot takes approximately 0.25 seconds to fire. Adding the 1.5+0.75 (0.25×3) summing it to 2.25 seconds have elapsed before the threat has been subdue.

-Edged Weapon Draw & Impact 1-1.5 seconds – Represents drawing to first impact. With practice and knife placement the times can be less to under a second. This won’t stop the attacker completely on first impact, depending on the available target and the body is hit with good penetrating thrust or cut.

-Empty-Handed Punch or Kick 0.3-0.5 seconds – The variable question is what effect will the punch or kick have. If trained in hand to hand, you can cause disruption to the threat.

Close Range
-At close distance not enough time to draw defensive weapon, get your hands up and cover your head.
-Use the cover to block and counter strike to vulnerable area with empty hands or edged weapon.

Selecting the Right Option
Selecting and using the right option is based on your training efforts, age, physical structure, natural abilities and the environment. Assessing your own strengths and weaknesses will determine your realistic options. So how do you cover your limitations? First is to recognize them and factor it into your self defense plan of action. Additional reliances on self-defense weapons, more defensive techniques and increased awareness & avoidance are all part of the solutions.

Comparisons of Options
An example might be that an older gentlemen or a female. The elderly person (female) is armed with a firearm, recognizes that he is at a disadvantage from the standpoint of strength and mobility vs someone younger. Wherever he goes, he raises his level of awareness and has his self defense tools available. If for some reasons this person needs to walk to a dark area where their vehicle is parked, having that flashlight out and pepper spray out or a hand on your firearm may be a wise choice.

Compare the next example to someone younger with average strength and size. He may choose the same approach but if confronted with an unarmed bad guy. The options would be to use strikes or other defensive options well before lethal force is used. As you can see the same attack warrants a different response depending on a variety of factors.

In summary know your strengths and train to detect and utilize those options based on the “situation“.

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