Reprioritizing Essential Self Defense Training Based on John Correia’s Active Self Protection Violent Encounter Data

| August 28, 2017 | 2 Comments

Our good friend John Correia from Active Self Protection gave several lectures at last weekend’s NRA Carry Guard conference.

The premise: John’s observations after watching over 10,000 videos of violent encounters.

John had published some preliminary findings in 2016, but he’s watched over twice as many videos as he did back then.

I did not attend the Carry Guard conference, but John was kind enough to send us his presentation ahead of time.

There are 21 observations in his presentation. I will not republish the presentation or give a detailed breakdown of John’s observations and findings. He will be putting this information out in his own way soon, and I want to respect the work that he’s done.

Here are the things I believe New and Novice students should focus on after reading John’s summary regarding 10,000+ violent encounters.

What we need to focus on

  • Understanding where violent acts occur, and the behavioral and “tactical” signals aggressors give off before attacking
  • Defending against multiple attackers from a distance between a half- to a full-car length
  • Hands on skills, especially before a weapon comes into play. John’s opening slide is about how most gunfights aren’t entangled gunfights, but in other slides he makes good cases for knowing how to defend yourself and/or access a tool while within arm’s reach.
  • Knowing how to draw and shoot one handed, using only your primary hand. Shooting a handgun with both hands is preferred, but when the fight is on sometimes we can’t get both hands on the gun, or continue holding what’s in our hand.
  • Moving while talking, moving while drawing, and moving while shooting. Some schools teach moving and then shooting, and after participating in force on force scenario based training this is probably acceptable. In my experience, accuracy diminishes once we start shooting on the move. However, I wonder what would happen if we stopped drilling reloads and malfunction clearances as often, and worked on moving and shooting instead.
  • Shooting behind cover and concealment. John notes that people will mentally treat cover and concealment as the same — and do not attempt to shoot through it. New students should receive instruction on taking, and fighting from, cover as soon in their “careers” as possible.
  • Counterattacking, especially after absorbing an initial strike or against a knife attack.

What we need to stop focusing on

  • Drilling reloads at their current priority in typical training classes. Students need to know how to load and unload their firearms properly. However, after viewing 10,000+ videos John determined that there were only two noteworthy instances where someone other than law enforcement had to reload in the middle of a fight. This greatly deprioritizes the need to reload under duress.
  • Malfunction clearances at their current priority in typical training classes. Students need to know how to safely fix guns when they go down (I’ve seen firearms malfunction a LOT when shooting from odd positions). However, given the short duration of violent encounters it is not necessary to learn how to do an extended stoppage under duress. John goes so far as to note that based on footage, it is not worthwhile to train the “tap” in the tap-rack-ready simple malfunction procedure.
  • Transitioning from strong hand to weak hand. John did not observe a single incident where someone was injured in their primary hand and had to transition to their off hand. This is difficult for me to process, as we saw a LOT of shots to the hands in force on force training over the years, and saw several at the Shivworks VCAST vehicle class earlier this month. Perhaps the reason John doesn’t see injured-hand-transitions is that it’s a fight stopper. Maybe it allows the parties the break contact, or the person hit in the hand never gets a chance to fight again.
  • Reduce or eliminate learning to shoot with the weak hand. The use cases where transitioning are statistically improbable (e.g., shooting around a corner, or inside certain zones of a car interior).
  • Manipulating a handgun one handed. There is no evidence that a typical defender in a typical self defense encounter needs to know how to reload with one hand, or clear a complex malfunction one handed.
  • John concluded that most disarm techniques taught to students won’t work based on how entangled fights actually happen. After attending three ECQC classes from Shivworks, and training with a regular group of Shivworks alumni, I totally agree.


I believe the point of John’s summary is to emphasize what we should be doing first, not the totality of what we could be doing. There are many things that might be worthwhile for a student to learn after they’ve become unconsciously competent at the basics. Jumping right into a terrorist interdiction class may not be the best move for new, novice, or even intermediate students — and this is coming from me. 😉

This data gives instructors the opportunity to reevaluate and reprioritize the skills taught in “beginner” classes, and discard some things taught in “advanced” classes.

I look forward to John’s release and analysis of his data, and I will make another post about it here when he does.

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.

2 Comments on "Reprioritizing Essential Self Defense Training Based on John Correia’s Active Self Protection Violent Encounter Data"

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  1. CR Williams says:

    I definitely want to know when and where to find this information when John releases his full report.

  2. Back spin says:

    I think the “tap” in tap-roll-rack is critical DEPENDING on the gun you’re operating. I’d say I’ve never seen a Glock that needed the “tap”. But depending how you hold a Sig P226, I’ve seen more than a few support hand palms and strong hand thumbs hit the mag release is recoil. Mag tends to get partially ejected in those cases with that particular gun and the tap is essential.

    Thanks for sharing John’s info. I find his analysis of videos tends to be quite efficient, spot on, and very articulate.

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