Big Stick Combat

What Went Down:

In the first incident, an Idaho pharmacist chased a man who had stolen six bottles of anti-anxiety medication. The pharmacist, Jerry Gunderson, who had wrestled in college, initially followed the robber with the goal of getting information for the police.

Suddenly the robber was stopped by the store’s locked doors. He yelled out, “I’ve got a gun!” and reached into his pocket. Jerry had a decision to make. Not certain whether the hoodlum had a gun or not, and not wanting to find out the hard way, Jerry rushed him and tackled the punk. The gun fell to the floor, and the two men struggled until cops arrived.

In the second incident, two armed robbers pulled out guns within seconds of entering a medical marijuana dispensary in Denver. When one of the robbers pointed a gun at her daughter’s head, she snapped and tackled the gunman from behind. He fired off two shots, but she held on until the police arrived. In the news video, there is blood on the sidewalk from one of the fleeing suspects.

Big Stick Combat Gun Disarm

Lessons Learned:

1. A Weapon Does Not Make You God. I don’t care if that weapon is a stick, a knife, a gun, or a bazooka, you are still human and therefore mortal. Anyone who confronts you with a weapon may have the advantage, but he is still human and therefore mortal.

2. Know Your Gun Disarms. Gun disarms are techniques you should have down cold. I share this advice from Ellis Sensei, my first martial arts teacher of Kenju (Kenpo and judo).

    A) If confronted with a gun, sign over the house, give him your wallet, promise him your firstborn child.

    B) If your life is on the line, you want the gun in your teeth (i.e. as close as possible).

One of the Kenju students had a gun pulled on him at a pool hall. He was able to disarm the gunman, even though in the process a shot went off and passed along his forearm and through his sleeve

3.  If You’re Grappling for a Weapon, Don’t Just Wrestle. This is the time to headbutt, bite, go for a wristlock and break his wrist, choke him out, get a scissors on his ribcage, etc.

It’s Time to Fight Back

Lastly, the pharmacist who tackled the robber was fired by Shopko for violating company policy. I am reminded of the employee at a convenience store who was herded into a backroom with several other employees. Fearing that the gunman was about to kill them, the employee pulled out his concealed gun and shot the robber. The company fired him.

Although I believe that you shouldn’t take foolish risks and endanger your life, there comes a time when you have to fight back. We as a society are slow to realize this. As a schoolteacher I saw administrators become more and more passive in the face of increasing violence by students.

How long is it before terrorism comes to America? And it already has, in the form of Major Hassan’s attack at Fort Hood. In a world that made sense, a US Army base would be the last place on earth to try a terrorist attack, yet craven policymakers prohibited soldiers from carrying guns on an army base! It is reminiscent of the Beirut barracks attack that killed 241 US soldiers, in part because policy prohibited them from carrying loaded weapons.

Let me suggest that it’s not enough to teach the martial arts, but that we as martial artists must advocate for a strong society that reacts to violence with overwhelming and disproportionate force.

I think it’s time we started fighting back.



  1. […] We Have to Fight Back. Just three days before this attack I said: […]

  2. that old guy in the orange background is such a badman BP

  3. on-topic It’s a disgrace to hear what happened to the convenience store owners, heroes who are punished for their acts. But I guess it’s to stop people taking foolish risks and getting themselves killed. It’s not right, but it’s how the legal world operates.

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