The Gunfighter’s Ten Essential Attributes


One of the systems I studied was JKD, or Jeet Kune Do. If we are to use western terminology, you would call it the Intercepting Fist System. What was notable about JKD was that it sought to develop the individual’s personal attributes for fighting. Today, in our concept integration program, this attribute development is essential to the modern gunfighter. Let’s see how these apply.

1). Awareness and Sensitivity - To see the opponent's intentions. This requires an attentive and receptive mind that is outwardly focused. It requires the ability to profile people that may be adversaries, but also to profile events, locations and times of day…and perhaps even of the year. The gun people might be tempted to call this “mind set” but it goes way beyond this.

2). Line Familiarization - To be familiar with the angle of attack that an opponent launches. Most of the gun world ignores this, but we focus on it deeply during the reactive area of training. And not only the line and angle of an opponent’s attack, or line of fire, but also what lines of evasive action and movement are open to the gunfighter. There are always two sides to the same coin.

3). Proper Mental Attitude - Every time I write about this the hand wringing begins about me being too aggressive. There is no defense. There is only attack and counter attack. Proper mental Attitude means a combat attitude based on power and confidence, not one based on fear. The mind of predator, not of prey. See the blog for more.

4). Body Mechanics - Knowing how and where to position the body at all times. The art of movement. You do not learn the art of movement by standing still. Along with the ability and methodology of movement, comes the movement of the weapon, including its quick deployment and its appropriate degree of marksmanship.

5). Strength - Ability to overwhelm an opponent through manipulation. What can I say…being strong is better than being weak.

6). Footwork - Putting oneself where one needs to be at all times by shuffling forward and back, sidestepping and circling. In unarmed combat footwork is important to manage the distance interval, whether for attack or evasion. But in the sense of the firearm, it has to do with maneuvering over the ground and using it to your advantage as well as the ability to explode into movement once an attack has been identified. Getting off the X is the gun world’s necessary footwork. It requires physical coordination and balance, which again come from repetitive practice.

7). Speed - Perception of initiation and performance of an action. I will say that while the gun world is infatuated with speed, it is not speed but timing which is more important. More on that later. That said…good usable speed is efficient movement under control. That comes from extensive repetitions and developed economy of motion. Done with intent, what I described seems fast. But it seems casual to the doer.

8). Timing - Ability to launch an attack at the proper moment. This is the way gunfights are won. Fistfights too. Its not about the clock, or the fast draw or any of that nonsense. It is about striking at the appropriate time. Knowing when that time is depends on a combination of awareness, proper mental attitude and an understanding of the true rules of engagement.

9). Physical Toughness - This goes along with mental attitude but it is the physical manifestation of it. You cannot think yourself into "toughness". There has to be a physical component to it that demands physical and mental engagement. A physically strong and tough man, with the right mental attitude is a dangerous opponent.

10). Flow - The JKD guys have an entire thought process with this to include rythm, spatial awareness, etc. I will simply say that this attribute includes understanding where you are in the fight. That includes timing, event management, control of thoughts and words, and how to convey that with language when the time comes.