Self Defense Basics: Do Weapon Disarms Really Work on the Street?

Do Weapon Disarms Really Work on the Street?

Gun disarms are fancy and complex. They look cool but are completely useless.

In addition to martial arts, I have had advanced firearms training and training in the Lindell Handgun Retention System. But I have never had to use weapon disarms in real life. So, I can’t honestly vouch for them.

What I have learned in my study of fireams, weapon disarms and the Self Defense Training System is this. When you are attacked and in a survival-type situation, fine motor skills go out the window. You have to rely on gross motor movements that work when the flight-or-fight response kicks in. That is why fancy disarms can be a problem. Please understand that I’m not dissing the Lindell system. I’m sure it’s saved plenty of people in the line of duty. However, I’m someone who doesn’t practice these techniques day in and day out. Which is why I’ve come to a different place in my thinking. But who am I to tell you anything? I’m not a recognized expert. But, I know someone who is.

Damian Ross, CEO of the Self Defense Company and creator of the Self Defense Training System. Here is what he has to say about weapon disarms.

“Most people think the reason why I don’t like weapon disarms or more to the point, think weapon disarms are dangerous is because I don’t know any.

Believe me, I have studied numerous methods of “de-fanging the snake” and even won several self defense competitions doing weapon disarms and “controls” using any number of techniques you see on youtube.

The only difference between me and people who disagree with me are common sense, experience and logic.

Here is why weapon disarms FAIL:

Weapon disarms involve taking the weapon away while the attacker is on his feet. If he is still on his feet or if he is not VERY unbalanced (stumbling) he can still attack you. Remember this is a person willing to threaten to kill you with a weapon. They are not going to take kindly to your trying to pry their gun out of their hand. If you’re off even the slightest degree in a joint lock, it’s NOT going to work.

Weapon disarms force you to take your attention off the attacker. While a lot of these disarms begin with a strike they immediately force you to move back to the weapon. Tactically this is a huge mistake because now he has a chance to regain his balance and fight back. You’re better off sticking to the initial strike and repeating it until he’s a quivering mess and forget the rest of the stuff.

Weapon disarms require small motor skills and complex movements. Physiologically this is improbable because when you’re under stress you’re going ONLY BE ABLE to focus on one or two gross motor skill sets (Read Lt. Col Grossman’s book “On Combat” and get back to me before you start talking about some guy you know…).

In Grossman’s book he gives you neat scientific data that clearly shows what physical acts you’re capable of doing when you’re fighting for your life. Wrist locks and complex grabs are NOT one of them. You can only go gross motor skills or BIG MOVEMENTS.

You also have a one track mind which means you’re only going to be able to do one or two of these large movement techniques. Add to that, sweat, rain, mud or 100 other environmental factors that will inhibit your ability to pull off those fancy moves and gross motor skills are the ONLY answer.

Weapon disarm leads you to believe you need the weapon in your hand in order to control the weapon. Control the man, control the weapon. A weapon is only as dangerous as the person holding it. Why hit him once and stop hitting him?

Let’s look at the reality of each type of weapon (Impact, Edged and firearm).

Impact or striking weapon (club, black jack, chain, bat, etc). An impact weapon needs to be drawn back and swung or thrust with a great deal of force. In order for your attacker to do this they need to have balance and space to generate enough force to cause damage.

The secret is to know how to interrupt his balance and control the space or distance. Once you do this, you will be able to attack him at will.

In Module 8 of SDTS Combatives you learn how to avoid or disrupt the initial attack either by distance or the use of your environment and then immediately close the gap and destroy your attacker.

Edged weapons (knives, spears, pikes). People have turned knife fighting into a game of tag. You do not automatically fall apart when you’re touched with a blade of a knife.

In order for the knife to do REAL damage it must either be thrust into you or slice your airway or major artery, both of which require a significant amount of force and pressure.

As a result the same principles for the impact weapon hold true. You need to clear the weapon and then immediately keep your target off balance by attacking him so that he can’t plant his feet and attack with force. The injury you might incur while you’re beating him to death is minimal compared to being stabbed repeatedly. In SDTS Combatives Module 8 you see how to neutralize the knife by using your environment, closing the distance and dismantling your attacker.


Once you clear the weapon, you MUST continue to attack the man. In order for him to squeeze the trigger he needs to send the message to his hand to do it. This is hard to do while he’s being pulverized. Listen, in the off chance he squeezes off a round before his world goes black, the chance is minimal that it will do significant damage.

But hey, I’ll take those chances because a split second ago it was 100% in his favor!! Don’t let your delusions of being Jason Bourne, get in the reality of what is real. I’ve trained Jason Bourne types – we all laugh at that stuff.

Oh and if you think you have a better chance of disarming an attacker with a complex joint lock instead of knocking them out cold with a few brutal strikes here’s a news flash:

NOTE: If you don’t have the strength and skill to knock someone out with a strike, you damn sure DO NOT have the strength and the skill to apply a move that requires leverage, power and skill.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Typical training scenario, we even talk about this in the SDTS Combatives Program.

Look at the attacker. I assume he’s using him for cover or he wants to move him. Holding the firearm in this position poses a few MAJOR Problems.

1. The weapon pressed against the target will not discharge. It’s a semi-auto and all semi automatic weapons have a neat safety feature built in so the weapon doesn’t discharge in the holster. It only takes a few pounds of pressure to keep that weapon from firing, so in this case, bad guy can’t pull the trigger.

2. If attacker does blow his brains out, the attacker will be blind, deaf and covered in sticky grey matter. That weapon discharge is going to be deafening, the muzzle flash will be blinding and yes, brain matter is hell on the laundry.

But the biggest problem with this picture is the defender….


This goes for ALL disarms experts, everyone is so F’ing calm, cool and collected. I can speak from personal experience that even if you THINK the guy has a weapon you’re SHITTING A BRICK!

Any self defense instructor who tells you to “remain calm” has NO IDEA WHAT HE or SHE is TALKING ABOUT.

This is the complete opposite of what your body is engineered to do. When you train in SDTS Combatives you learn how to channel that adrenaline dump and focus it, NOT REPRESS IT. You learn to maximize your kill or be killed instinct.

Let me ask you this, if combat veterans can’t repress the adrenaline dump, what chance do you have?

There is only one way to handle a weapon attack – and that is with direct and brutal force that targets your attacker.


I have known instructors who refuse to give up on their twisty wristy ways and say, sure I’ll teach SDTS Combatives but then I’ll teach the other stuff as an “advanced option”.

This really pisses me off and reveals to me what an awful instructor you really are.

Let me ask you, do you think when one of your students has a gun stuck in their face they’re going to think “Should I do defense “A” or defense “B”, there’s just such a wide selection to choose from?…”


If on the off chance your student does face an armed assailant you’re going to confuse them with “OPTIONS”!!!

There is only one way that has been proven to work and this is it. STOP being impressed with yourself. Believe me, I could be sitting here giving you the same, warmed over Hollywood BS but my conscious won’t let met.

I know, we all want to have that nasty weapon wrapped up in a neat little package and you can, but instead of taking it away from your attacker and having him standing in front of you, I show you how to take the weapon away from your attacker and have him lying before you.

Choice is yours, use stuff that has been proven on film or in warfare.”

Damian Ross, creator of the Self Defense Training System (SDTS).


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