BLAUER: Lessons from a Vicious Ambush

Replication is education.

By Tony Blauer  |   Aug 15, 2017

Every one of you should be drilling this video. Studying it. 

What did you learn?

It happens so fast. What would you do?

Times up.

Here’s what I think. Let’s ignore the background of the suspect, ignore how many times the officer repeated himself, let’s just focus on the physicality: the attack, the ambush. Bottom line: Bad guys understand strategy and tactics too.

Here’s what I see. Suspect has left hand exposed, right hand concealed.

When I reverse engineer strategy, I always imagine the suspect has the skills and the means. From that internal vantage point I create movement. My two cents here?

Never approach counterclockwise when the right hand is concealed. Think about it. Replicate it. A clockwise approach, through the suspect’s blindspot, would’ve created more telegraphic-ness.

That’s the physical stimulus response game. Now let’s discuss the more important one, the mental game.

When you tell someone to do something you also visualize it—and simultaneously expect and accept it. Reread this because it can and will change your perception speed and reaction time if you get this.

Telling a dangerous suspect to take his hands out of his pocket puts him in motion before you. Action is faster than reaction, and you will always be late when your brain is both asking and waiting for it. Get it? The officer accidentally, inadvertently set the ambush in motion. And now he’s way behind in reaction speed. Most cops do it to themselves because of archaic training and thinking.

In most situations you are safer if the suspect has his hands stuck in his pocket. Counterintuitive, yes, but it’s much harder to punch, stab, or shoot with one’s hands in the pocket.


Tactically if you clearly assert “keep your hands in your pockets.” Then their movement is offensive and and this is your first pre-contact cue to move. (You must have already worked out via intelligent scenario training what you’ll do.) Study this. Again, telling a dangerous suspect to move his hands first is compromising your safety.

If you want to be sooner in a real confrontation you need to train your brain. You must preload your brain to both spot and act on anomalies.

Replication is education. Replicate this exact scenario. Do it with an empty-hand attack, a knife and a pistol. While the level of force changes, the intent may not, but what you learn real fast is that the approach I recommended (blindspot clockwise on concealed right hand) will always buy you the most time. This is all brain-based training and it’s the foundation of everything we teach. Training needs to be meaningful. Period. If your commands or movement helps set the ambush in motion, you will always be second. #boom

 Share this in roll call, and please share some feedback.


Coach B

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Tony Blauer
Tony Blauer is one of the world’s leaders in the research and development of scenario-based training for the military, law enforcement and self-defense communities. He’s best known for the development of the SPEAR System, an evidence-based defensive tactics program built around human physiology, physics and psychology. He also developed 'High Gear', the world's first impact reduction scenario-training suit. Mr. Blauer and his team are available for seminars and he can be reached at [email protected] If you're new to SPEAR, click here:
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