Hollywood movies have perpetuated the illusion that having a pistol stuck in your face is a fairly run-of-the-mill experience. The protagonist, Zen-like and if anything a little insulted or bored by the situation, calmly stares the gunmen down before dispatching with him in a split second. They'll often use real world martial arts techniques, but ones adapted by choreographers to look more cinematic and aggressive.
The reality is very different. Even the most highly-trained self defence expert will be shocked and terrified when they find themselves staring down the barrel of a gun and this will effect both how they react and how quickly they do.
"Nine times out of ten, you're just going to want to comply with their demands and hand over your wallet," says Gershon Ben Keren, who teaches a style of Krav Maga recently adapted in Denzel Washington movie The Equalizer. "It's not worth risking your safety for a few dollars."
But what if you are certain of the assailant's violent intentions or dealing with an erratic person who may be on drugs and looks to have little control of the gun? Your best solution may be to perform a disarm.
Here's Gershon's steps for a simple gun to front of head disarm:
1. Put your hands up.
This readies you for the disarm and the attacker will have seen enough movies to assume this is a natural response to having a gun pointed at you. You might want to beg for mercy too, this won't make it into action movies but will fool the assailant into thinking you are going to comply.
2. Start to tourn your body, and reach with your left hand to take a grip of the barrel of the gun.
Grab as close to the trigger guard as you can.
3. Continue your turn, moving the gun away from you, and moving your body out of the line of fire.
Your other hand should reach towards where the hammer/rear sight of the gun is, and cup the back of the weapon.
4. The gun should now be turned flat on its side.
This simple action turns the barrel an extra few inches away from you. If the gun goes off while you have hold of the slide (this applies only to semi-automatic weapons) although it will fire, the slide will not be able to pull back and eject the spent casing and so pull a new bullet into the chamber, jamming the gun.
5. Keep turning, and pulling the gun past you.
If you do this rapidly as part of your initial movement, you will beat your attacker's natural grab reflect (to pull back in an attempt to retain whatever it is that is being pulled from them), and may in fact release the gun from their hand.
6. Keep pulling, and at the same time start to turn the firearm towards your attacker.
Your pull should be strong enough that it takes your assailant's balance - when a person's balance is taken, all their thoughts go to regaining it, and they don't think about or focus on anything else, i.e., holding on to their weapon, etc.
7. Your pulling and turning action should force your attacker to let go.
If they have a strong grip and you are experiencing difficulties, use your left forearm (the arm which is holding the barrel of the gun) to drive downwards into your attacker's wrist to help expedite the release.
8. As you drive your forearm into their wrist, rotate it so you weaken their hold.
Your end position should see your assailant off balance and in a disadvantaged position.
9. Now you have the weapon in your hand.
10. Immediately use the gun as an impact weapon to cause blunt trauma to your assailant(s).
Proof any old clown (i.e. me) can do it with a little training
The Equalizer is out on DVD & Blu-ray now.