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Martial Arts: Self Defense

Getting Robbed At Gunpoint: What To Do? It Depends.

By Gene Roos

I would never advise the normal citizen to resist a robbery at gunpoint or try to wrestle the gun away from the robber. It is a good way to get killed. Some in law enforcement, the military and in the martial arts have, however, received training on how to disarm in such an event. Even so, there is always danger.

Here are a few simple rules most people would want to follow when being robbed at gunpoint, especially if you are a normal citizen without special training. If faced with a gun toting robber demanding you hand over your valuables, you should show compliance. Raise your hands slowly (chest high) and tell the robber, "Anything you want."

A quick side note: I advise my students to separate their money and their wallet (which usually might carry identification, credit cards and other hard to replace information). Keep them in separate places. For your cash I recommend a money clip. If you keep a $20 bill or bills on top with singles folded up underneath, it looks like a lot of money.

Back to the action: If you have a separate money clip you might also say, "I have cash in my pocket, can I reach for it?" If, however, you only have a wallet you might say, "I have my wallet in my pocket, can I reach for it?" Depending on if you have a separate money clip or just a wallet, you can reach for either. If it is a wallet you can slowly extract the cash and offer it to the robber, hoping to keep your wallet. It might work but he may want more.

Remember, during any such robbery don't act suddenly, act compliant and don't move unless you have asked permission to move. This is what most law enforcement spokesmen recommend on how to deal with this situation. You also don't have many options. Don't risk any type of disarm unless you have been thoroughly trained, and even then I personally would not attempt to resist unless I thought my life was in danger.

Those who have been thoroughly trained in gun disarms might, if they feel threatened, take action. The scenario below is based on the robber being close and holding the gun in his right hand.

Here your actions pretty much mimic what was advised above, but with a surprise at the end. In this illustration the robber demands cash, but it could equally have been your wallet.

This technique is taught in Ketsugo Jujitsu.  Variations of this technique can also be found in other jujutsu systems as well as in aikido

When the robber demands your money you say, "I have cash in my pocket, can I reach for it?" Wait until you are given permission to move and then do so slowly. Extract the cash with your right hand and then extend it slowly towards the robber. As you do this, ask, "Is this alright?"

Your question will momentarily occupy the robber's mind while he simultaneously looks at and tries to concentrate on your extended arm -- the combo acting as a momentary distraction (also slowing his reaction time). Remember your left arm is still raised chest high, not far from the robber's gun arm. So as you ask your question and reach out with your right hand distracting the robber, you do two things simultaneously. First, your left arm comes down, your hand grabbing the robber's wrist holding the gun to lead the arm down and to your right at about 30 degrees. As you do this your left foot steps to the left toward the right outside of the attacker followed with a step back with the right foot in an arch step -- the whole body working as a unit. Be careful to keep your left hand centered on your body. You are not using your arm power, but the whole rotational weight of your body to effect this technique. This combined action momentarily unbalances the robber while also getting your body out of the line of fire.

The robber's normal reaction is to try to resist by pulling the arm up and back. This type of resistance is almost reflexive. You use this to your advantage as you use your right hand to immediately join the first hand on the robber's gun hand wrist. As you do this you rotate in the other direction (using your whole body) while lifting up the arm to bend the attacker's wrist (very painful) to the robber's right outside shoulder. In this second step your right foot moves forward towards the middle of your attacker's two feet while the left foot takes an arch step backward -- your whole body rotating as a unit. The power of the whole body behind your two hands pushing down the attacker's wrist should force him to the ground and give you control of the gun.

If, however, you can not get the gun out of the attacker's hand, several options include the following:

- Dislocate the attacker's right wrist or elbow (holding the weapon).

- Kick the attacker (distraction) in vital areas until he releases the gun.

- Point the attacker's gun at the attacker and tell him you are going to shoot him with his own gun if he does not release it.

- Shoot the attacker (with his own gun) to obtain a release of the weapon.


I want to thank Christopher Caile, Editor of for his help in editing and reworking this article.

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About The Author:

Prof. Gene Roos, 10th dan Ju Jitsu, and 4th dan in judo, is a member of the Board of Directors for the America Ju Jitsu Association. He is a frequent contributor to In 1958 was awarded Shodan (Judo) and won the Regional Judo Champion. In 1958 & 1959 was Judo State Champion. His instructors include: Harold Brosious (Ketsugo), Dennis Palumbo (Hakko Ryu Ju Jitsu, 8th Dan), George Kirby, & Shizuya Sato (Ju Jitsu), Wally Jay (Small Circle Ju Jitsu), Dr. Sacharnoski (Hard Style Ju Jitsu & Ki) and Master Mochizuki (a student of Funakoshi, Kano, & Ueshiba). He is also the author of a series of upcoming books on Aiki jujitsu as well as a number of videos including: "Aiki Jujitsu" (a three video tapes series with manuals); "Deadly Attacks" (defense against 30 knife, gun, stick and empty hand attacks); "Deadly Attacks- part II" (defense against an additional 30 knife, gun and empty hand attacks); "Deadly Attacks III" and "Devastating Throws and Other Deadly Attacks " (defense against 30 advanced combat throws, knife attacks, stick, and a rear shotgun attack), For more information see:

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self defense, jujutsu, gun defense, defense against a gun

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