The concept of stance is no more relevant to combative shooting than it is to tennis. In tennis, we may stand still when we're first learning to swing a racket. But when we play tennis, most of the time we're moving.
Getting tired of the sports metaphors? I'm just getting started.
Stance makes perfect sense when it comes to target shooting, where accuracy is the primary objective. Accuracy comes from consistency. And one of the ways target shooters achieve consistency is to eliminate movement.
But movement is the foundation of any kind of combatives.
Can you imagine a boxer just standing still and punching?
But... But... But...
Yeah. I know.
Isosceles, Central Axis Relock, Retention, Weaver, Modified-Weaver, Reverse-Weaver, Beaver-Cleaver-Weaver.
We've got stances coming out the wazoo!
It's not that any of the static stances we use to practice or compete with are wrong. It's that they are not, and never have been, positions we'd work from in combatives. But a bunch of people train, and a bunch of instructors teach, as if we would.
At best, these are postures that, if we're lucky, we may momentarily pass through as we dynamically position ourselves to engage with an opponent.
What do I mean by if we're lucky?
Stances are ideal postures we use to develop our skills during practice. But in the chaos of a real conflict, we may not be able to get positioned in a way that resembles anything close to an ideal posture.
Make Rules to Break Rules
In first grade, we're taught you can't subtract a bigger number from a smaller number and long division has remainders. Then, in middle school they come back and say "just kidding". Now we're going to tell you about negative numbers and decimals.
So we needed one set of rules to get us ready for a different set of rules. It's the same in combatives. The foundations we're taught about stance and grip and aiming and trigger control and breathing are the first grade rules of marksmanship shooting.
The problem is, the vast majority of shooters never get to the point of "breaking" (or better still "breaking through") those rules so they can progress from marksmanship to combatives.
Marksmanship skills and combatives skills are two different things.
It's a widely held misconception that we use the same marksmanship skills for combatives. And that's just plain wrong. They are two significantly different approaches to shooting.
If you genuinely enjoy combatives training and you want to excel at it, it'll take more practice and more varied practice. Because, in addition to applying new rules, we also need to push ourselves beyond any rules.
What makes a master is the ability to perform ideally under less than ideal conditions.
How many times, outside of a scrimmage, do you think this soccer player actually practiced that specific kick. I'd guess maybe a few times, if any.
Why would he. How many times in a game, a season, or a career would he have a chance to even attempt a kick like that?
No, he was able to pull-off that kick because he had spent years developing his skills under much more controlled and ideal conditions, then he pushed himself outside the box in as many different situations as he could. So while he may not have ever practiced that particular kick, he had the skills to make it work when he needed to.
And that's the only purpose shooting stances serve in combatives.
We begin with two feet firmly planted on the ground, usually squared off to the target. Then we start working on the 20 things we need to simultaneously control every time we want to squeeze off two or more rounds. (No. Really. There are 20 things going on each time we make a gun go bang-bang.)
At that point we're still thinking in terms of the rules of stance, grip, aim and trigger control.
Once we get a handle on those 20 things, under ideal or near-ideal conditions, that's when combatives training can begin. And that means movement.
This starts with moving in to, out of and between those stances, still breaking our shots in controlled postures. Then the time in those postures gets shorter and shorter until we're breaking shots in the split second we come close to a controlled position.
Finally, we move on to using timers, terrain, obstacles, simulated injuries, competition and anything else we can dream up to make us perform outside any rules.
Personally, I think this is what makes combatives training so much fun. I'd get bored just standing at a firing line punching little holes in paper. (Click here if your interested in getting some ideas for Range Games.)
What About All Those Stances?
Okay, So we've identified the problem, justified the need for a solution and presented a pathway to get there. In this video, we'll show how some of the more well-known stances fit into the dynamic positioning of combatives.
There were several things that held me back in my shooting career, because I was working under a false assumption.
For example, I always assumed I was simply an inferior shooter because, during rapid-fire, I'd jerk the trigger. And, of course, everyone knows a good shooter never does that.
I imagined that all the great USPSA champions had some kind of magical muscle control that allowed them to smoothly move their trigger finger as fast as they wanted.
So I just learned to work around my handicap. And eventually, I somehow figured out how to become a better then average shooter, despite my genetic limitations.
Then, almost 40 years into my shooting, I heard Rob Leatham say "I hate it when people blame everything on jerking the trigger. To shoot fast you're going to jerk the trigger. So learn how to jerk the trigger without moving the gun".
The skies parted and angels sang.
The point of me taking you on my little trip down memory lane is to explain the reason for this article.
When we're talking about combatives, working under false assumptions can be dangerous. I don't want anyone thinking they should be training to drop anchor and settle into a stance if the shit ever hits the fan.
Movement and Hand+Gun™ techniques are much more likely to win the day.
Once again, be careful whenever you change your approach to training. And please don't hesitate to ask if you need help or just have a question.
President, Predator DefenseEmail: rickm@PredatorDefense360.comPhone: 801.473.2949