Beware the Straw man Argument

While researching your training plan it is hard to figure out fact from fiction. It is easy for me to talk about snake oil salesmen. As a new student it is often difficult to sniff them out. One of the best ways is to look for repeated straw man arguments.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone has used a straw man argument from time to time. This is usually due to poor communication or rushing to write something. We are lucky if someone calls us out on it. It’s necessary to discuss the intricacies of self-defense to find a good path for our training. Working through weak arguments will make us grow as students and instructors.

What I found is during research (asking questions or reading someone’s ideas) if I see straw man arguments occurring over and over it is often done to side step valid scientific argument.

Essentially the straw man argument is trying to deflect you from critical thinking. I will list a few but certainly not all the arguments below in no particular order:

STRAW MAN: All gunfights are at two yards so you should point shoot for most of your training, learn knife fighting, learn MMA to go hands on first then gunfight, etc.

Answer: This is a skewing of stats and they don’t apply to me as a civilian. Many police officer ambushes happen at 0-2 yards. When added in they skew the average gunfight stat. Many of these ambushes happen while the officer is not even looking at the suspect (eating food, drinking coffee or having their face buried in a computer). The suspect just walks up and shoots the officer while his gun is in the holster. How a civilian or officer for that matter trains to overcome this problem is far different from an average civilian robbery, mugging, home invasion type crime. If you remove these ambushes you end up with a stat that looks like other stats that suggest a three to seven yard average gunfight for us civilians. When you add in the suspect’s motivation to just kill the officer and most suspect’s wish to do the exact opposite to us civilians, it really puts a different spin on how we should train. If you add in simple movement such as a side step and we can keep or maintain that three yard spacing long enough to use a pistol normally.

STRAW MAN: The modern technique of gunfighting asks you to lineup your sights before shooting a bad guy. No one has time to do that in a gunfight so you should just listen to me and do it my way.

Answer: No one that I know shoots the old-fashioned modern technique from decades ago. Science and training has progressed. Even people who call their training Modern Technique are actually teaching an updated version of Modern Technique. We all know times have changed. These straw men are just hoping you don’t check out their claims. It’s like a giant magic trick, nothing to see out there just pay me the money and do it my way.

STRAW MAN: We have the newest most cutting edge shooting on the planet. We have gone beyond all the others. Our science is proven the best. Everything else is just a square range mentality.

Answer: This is usually a marketing catch-all. Expect a lot more straw men if you ask good questions.

STRAW MAN: Any technique that presumes to ignore basic biological changes in your body during a life threatening fight.

Answer: Either these straw men are ignorant to what happens to us mere mortals during these gunfights or they are ignoring them to sell you something. Whatever training you want to attend you might want to look for something that incorporates these biological changes by limiting their effects and or using them to your advantage.

Often the straw men will substitute what I call Warrior Speak when asked good questions. A common problem in the self-defense world is to treat these biological changes of tunnel vision, auditory exclusion or limiting, dissociation (time slowing or speeding up) and a difficulty is telling distance as being weak instead of just the norm. As though these things would not happen to you if you were a real man or a WARRIOR like me. Or if you attend my training I will make them go away.

It is my suggestion that you be very weary of these Warrior Speak trainers. I find these people to have a large psychological defense to good questions. There are many good instructors out there. I just skip the Warrior Speak and move on to the next prospect.


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