Lessons from Sensei Jeff

Master Jeff Wade, of South Miami TaeKwonDo is here to help you learn how to defend yourself.  Thanks to our buddies at Every Day, No Days Off for cluing me in to Sensei Jeff, who has now FOREVER CHANGED my thoughts on defensive handgunning.  Here is the direct link to Sensei Jeff’s first video which I like to call “How to Get Shot in the Leg“.  Watch the video.  After you’ve facepalmed yourself out of your chair, get back up and let’s have a look second by second at what’s going on in this video.  I’ll just put my thoughts as they came in to my head with corresponding time indexes.

  • 0:11 – Oh good, he’s a Black Belt in TKD that means that he’s had thousands of hours of uh…dojo work.
  • 0:14-20 – How do you disarm a pistol?  Wouldn’t you disarm the person?  And why would someone be casually pointing a pistol at my groin instead of, oh I don’t know, my chest or head?
  • 0:33 – Wow, that’s a really realistic airsoft gun, it even has…Crimson Trace…that’s a real gun holy s***.
  • 0:35 – Wait, if that guy’s finger was on the trigger like it would likely be if he was a real mugger, that gun would go off the second Sensei Jeff rotated it like that.  Wow.
  • 0:57 – Boy, it’s a good thing that red belt guy isn’t holding his gun with two hands like a professional would.
  • 1:06 – aaaaannnddd he just dry fired that gun without chamber checking it.  Fail.
  • 1:22 – Booby trapped?  Why would a mugger point a booby-trapped gun at you?  What the hell?
  • 1:24 – “Pack the slide”?  I have now officially reached “what is this I don’t even” because my brain cannot deal with what I’m seeing right now.
  • 1:33 – Of course he goes directly to the thoroughly tactical Weaver-Teacup grip.  /me facepalms

There has been a lot of conversation about “training” lately.  This is a perfect example of “bad training that could actually get you killed”.  Gun takeaways are the stupidest idea in all of the martial arts community.  Are there some people that are fast enough and skilled enough to disarm an attacker by taking away their gun?  Sure, but the same way that not every shooter is Jerry Miculek, not every martial artist is Bruce Lee.

Set ups like what you see in Sensei Jeff’s video are a great way to get people hurt.  Since most fights don’t take place between two dudes in gis, one of whom is a willing patsy, taking a gun away from an attacker determined to hurt you very badly wouldn’t go nearly as easily as Sensei Jeff wants you to believe.  Just like you can’t actually disassemble a Beretta Lethal Weapon 4 style, trying to grab the gun out of an attacker’s hand is a really, really good way to get yourself shot.


  1. Caleb I really appreciate your blog, and normally I agree with you. But I am going to qualify some of what you say here. I agree that Sensei Jeff is taking some tactical risks and that he is not great at the disarm.

    However, taking a gun away from a determined attacker IS feasible in certain scenarios. I wouldn’t do it his way, but you assume here that a person who is pointing the gun at you wants to kill you. If that is the case they will have shot you from appropriate distance, meaning that you never got this close. A mugger, though, will not. First of all they probably are a nimrod who will hold the weapon with one hand. Secondly they get close to put the gun to your head or chest (probably not groin…that idea is a little dumb). And they have the drop on you, so getting to a concealed weapon you are carrying will be difficult at best.

    So if you find yourself in that scenario, you BETTER have something more than “draw my firearm and take him with me,” because he will put 2 in you before you get yours out. There are better ways to get him to give up his weapon or to disable it; this then gives you the time and distraction to end the threat in more permanent ways.

    Sorry, man, but there IS some validity to the argument, even if this iteration is less than ideal.

    1. John, since the above is written mostly tongue in cheek, I didn’t address the validity of gun grabs in last ditch situations. I agree that trying to disarm your attacker is a much better idea than “dying”, and if it’s your only option than you might as well go for it. Better to die on your feet, they say.

      The problem I have with guys like Sensei Jeff is that they’re presenting the idea of an incredibly dynamic event in a total vacuum of a sterile training environment without the appropriate context; and in Sensei Jeff’s case the actual technique being used would most likely result in getting shot.

      I do stand by my statement that gun takeaways are a stupid idea, but sometimes it’s your only option. If you are going to do that, and you try a Sensei Jeff approved technique? you’re going to get killed.

      1. HAHAHA a “Sensei Jeff approved technique.” I couldn’t agree more that his approach is a great way to get shot in the leg or groin.

        I don’t know this guy, but this is the best disarm I know for a close assailant from the front:

        It’s fast and simple, and leaves lots of room for error.

        I couldn’t agree more that a gun disarm is last ditch; hopefully your SA will keep you out of this type of scenario. However, if you get “dropped” then you better have SOMETHING to fall back on. We train disarms against knives as well as guns in our art, and realize that in a real-life scenario that you’re 50/50 to make it out alive if you’re well-trained and disciplined in the heat of the moment.

        1. I also tend to think that if you’re in that kind of a situation, your best bet isn’t a gun takeaway, but rather to try and disable your attacker with strikes such as elbows, knees, and punches. Higher probability of success than a complicated joint lock.

          1. That disarm isn’t a joint lock per se, it is a “dislodge.” And hopefully a smart person would follow it up with appropriate strikes. Personally I like to combine this disarm with a groin kick at the same time to distract and harm.

          2. Now we’re cooking with oil.

            Gun takeaways CAN work, but usually only when the guy is distracted or has no idea you’re coming. A more generalized explosive counterattack with strikes or blade slashes once you have the gun controlled or deflected is a better idea.

            Another big red flag is the way Sensei Jeff has slightly different techniques for whether the gun is pointed at your face, groin or whatever. Conditional branching is bad, mmmmkay? Don’t be mentally leafing through a catalog of responses when you should be a blur of fury and pain.

  2. There have definitely been successful real world gun disarms. One that comes immediately to mind was when Lloyd Irvin (one of the most highly trained martial artists in the world and highly sought after BJJ coaches) was able to successfully disarm a home invader. It’s an interesting case. Both he and Brandon Vera – a bad man in his own right – were held (along with Lloyd’s family) at gunpoint for a number of hours before Lloyd had the opportunity to be alone with the gunman in a back bedroom. Even then, he acknowledges that the technique was insanely risky and that he wasn’t sure if it would work. But he had no other choice, and luckily it worked.

    So yeah, some gun disarms can work. It’s all part of the Dog Brothers’ “Die Less Often” ethos. As in, against an armed assailant, you will die most of the time if you’re unarmed. But good training will allow you to “die less often.” However, you have to have the right training. And to Caleb’s point, Sensei Jeff and his ilk (basically anyone with a ponytail) cannot provide the right training.

  3. I agree with Caleb…

    While I don’t recommend trying it – if Jeff tried that technique with the attacker having his finger on the trigger which would be the most realistic situation – I’m pretty sure you’d see the hammer dropping…

  4. Caleb,

    Fess up man. We know you want to share your coffee technique. It’s a much better disarm

  5. I won’t address Sensei Jeff’s technique other than to agree that it is a bad idea, badly presented. I’ve seen the same thing a thousand times in hundreds of classes.

    Gun disarm are possible but as someone already stated they require a gun wielder who isn’t paying full attention to you. I’ve been shown a couple or 3 ways it can be done.

    I do have a problem with the Dynamic Combat technique shown in that video; when we’ve tried it using Airsoft or Simunitions you regularly get shot as you sweep the muzzle across your body while taking the gun out of the “hole in his hand”.

    1. I agree that gun takeaways are POSSIBLE, but they’re definitely a tool of last resort. The average dude would be better served investing that training time in to learning how to throw effective strikes while grappling.

      1. No offense, Caleb, but you don’t just train to strike effectively while grappling. You con only strike effectively while grappling if you have superior position. And you can’t obtain superior position without training ALL of grappling.

        So these people who think they’re doing themselves a favor by focusing on learning to strike while grappling will almost always lose to someone who has trained to be an effective all around grappler – even if they’ve never actually trained the striking aspect. Simply put, you may have the world’s most devastating ground and pound, but you will never get to used it if you’re pinned by a superior grappler.

  6. I was curious about how this would actually work. My son and I worked on it a little bit ago using my P239 with snap caps in it. In double action mode, I didn’t get the shot off before the trigger damn near tore my finger off. In single action mode, I got the shot off every time. I also got the shot off every time while using a two handed hold. Stepping off the line of attack with a hand check on his gun cause me to miss almost every time when firing one handed. Two handed, he took a hit almost every time.

  7. He also states “you don’t know if the gun is loaded” near the end.

    How stupid would a robber have to be to use an un-loaded gun?????

    I know the majority of robbers are not the brightest crayon in the box, but come on, to think they may forget to load the gun before going out to rob someone??

    1. According to some police officers I’ve talked to, it’s more common than you’d think to find unloaded or otherwise inoperable guns on criminals.

      I’ve done gun grabs full speed against a resisting opponent with sims, and it works better than you might expect. The key is to get them talking /thinking first. Here’s an example (not me, but the same class I did it in: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUrzzqAuf-o

  8. Hello gentlemen. I’ve enjoyed your commentary on my video. As you probably already know, I’m taking a beating on the gun websites over my misspeak “Pack the slide.” What can I say? I misspoke. The deal was “one take, no review, that’s it.” That’s what I get for agreeing to those terms. Honestly, this blog has been the most objective about the subject. I have actually given this a lot of thought and practice, and already gone down the road most of you point to when criticizeing the technique(s). I would never condone a gun disarm as anything more than a last resort measure either. If I gave a different impression, for that I am truly sorry. Evidently, I’m not getting the idea across effectively – especially when I do a dumbass misspeak like I did.

    In the interest of education, I propose getting together with AirSoft weapons and giving this stuff a try. I have done it before and can typically get the gun before getting shot with any technique on the videos. Yeah, sometimes I take one in the leg or face, but rarely. And hey – that’s combat. If you’re going to get shot anyway, it’s worth the risk. We can all take turns being the gunman or the disarm person. We can share our knowledge as far as crime stats and experience. I’m offering room and board and a place to train if you’ll provide transportation. If you’ve got better ideas, I would love to hear them. If I can improve my own ideas, I want to. I hope you can and will approach it with the same attitude.

    God bless and thanks for your commentary.

    Master Jeff Wade
    [email protected]

    1. Well said sir, and humble to boot. One take, no review…that’s a tough pill to swallow.

      Thanks for being willing to work on it, and like I said before as a last resort a disarm CAN work. That’s why it’s martial ART and not martial science…there is art to the technique. I study American Kenpo and while the particulars are slightly different, the principles can work together.

      I think that the larger generalized principle is that neither a strict “unarmed” approach works best, and too much dependence on a tool like a firearm is not either. Rather, an integrative approach solves the most problems and provides the greatest opportunity to survive an encounter like this.

      1. Thank you very much John C.

        I have always admired Kenpo, especially the kata. Beautiful but deadly stuff. We actually got out the Air Soft guns tonight during Aikido class and tried the “shot in the crotch” disarm – just to test myself after the pounding I’ve taken over the videos. I don’t get it. I succeeded unscathed every time… some close calls but 100% successful. I can’t think of a quicker route to getting the barrel aimed away from your crotch than to push it straight down. Taking it to either side would risk a thigh shot, which could mean a femoral artery puncture – which means slow bleeding death. Pushing the barrel straight down risks taking one in the bits and pieces, but hey… the only way I’d decide to attempt a disarm is if I was sure that was going to happen anyway.

        My friend, I’m serious about getting together to train. You and anyone else. Our school is not “incestuous,” meaning we have seminars of other styles in here all the time. I would absolutely LOVE to get together with a bunch of people and kick around (no pun intended) ideas about weapon disarms. I’m sure we’d end up sparring and taking some rolls too. I would definitely beg you to teach me a Kenpo kata. I’d show it off and claim I made it up. 😉 There’s a great little bar Cuban bar down the street that we walk to after Aikido. We listen to Salsa and debate styles and techniques. I’m sure it would be worth your while. You and anyone reading this.

        Mi casa su casa, amigo(s).

        God bless and take care.


        1. Hey, my first reaction to the “crotch shot” video is ‘Who aims at someones crotch?’ .

          Even if their only ‘training’ in shooting is watching TV and Movies why would they point a gun there instead of the chest/head area?
          Any evidence to support the crotch shot as a viable threat?
          In short how many people get shot in the wrong head?

          And actually, getting shot in the Femoral artery is usually a fairly quick bleed out death. Especially if it hits the Common Femoral Artery before it branches out.

          Thanks in advance for a reply!

  9. Nicely answered, Sensei Jeff.

    I would reccomend that if you attempt to disarm Caleb, you ditch the Gi for a pair of heavy overalls. I’ve seen Caleb shoot in person; you will assuredly not disarm him before you get shot. Unless you like the redmarks left by airsoft pellets, in which case, carry on.

    be certain to film it, in any event, it sounds like it’d be a lot of fun to watch.

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