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Martial art of the gun



Shooting as a Martial Art

Traditional martial arts have been handed down to us for thousands of years. As the stakes of war were very high, there was much motivation to make each war art as effective as possible. This is why these arts are so deadly, until the lethal techniques are removed for competition today. Moreover, they all utilize the same basic principles because the same anatomical human body had to perform them, regardless of race or culture. These principles of martial arts had never been applied to the most recent martial art: shooting. In 1980 Kent Turnipseed asked, "why not?" After many years of experimentation and development, we now have the Turnipseed Technique.

"Everything must have balance, Daniel San" said Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid. Balance is the fundamental principle of the Turnipseed Technique. All of its other aspects contribute to and make possible the acquisition and maintenance of balance. These other aspects, or principles, are skeletal alignment, muscle relaxation, and body indexing.

Skeletal alignment simply means using your skeletal structure for strength rather than using your muscles. For example, a man can support a tremendous amount of weight on his shoulders if he is standing up straight with good posture. But, if he bends over just a little with that weight on his shoulders, he will collapse. By utilizing the natural strength of your skeleton, you can be stronger than you have ever imagined.

When your skeleton provides the strength, you do not need to use excess muscle. Relax! Being tense can only negatively affect your shooting with muscle tremors, stiffness, cramps, and fatigue. You need very little muscle when you move properly. This is called efficiency. Tense muscles transmit recoil; relaxed muscles dissipate it. The proper combination of skeletal alignment and muscle relaxation reduces perceived recoil to a non-issue.

Recoil neutralization is the most impressive feature of the Turnipseed Technique for first time witnesses. Experienced firearms trainers have a look of incredulity on their faces when they see Kent double tap 12 gauge magnums while standing balanced on one leg. They know that this is impossible! Recoil neutralization is what allows you to have complete control of the firearm during rapid-fire. This is also why women are not at a disadvantage and why this is a true martial art -a woman’s art, as Kent likes to put it. Efficient body mechanics replaces strength. Excess muscle is not required.

There is something built into our bodies that makes a 30 to 40 degree oblique a natural indexing angle. Using and enhancing this natural indexing through proper instruction and practice allows you to center shots on target from the hip with a handgun at practical self-defense distances up to 12 feet or more. At contact distances you must shoot from the hip or risk having your handgun taken away from you. At non-contact distances body indexing minimizes sight search. When you present your firearm, the sights will already be on target. This is using gross muscle movement to deliver quick, accurate shots under stress. Under certain conditions, e.g., at night, body indexing can replace sights. Under all conditions, it augments sighted fire.

At this point it would be useful to examine the most likely situation in which you would have to defend yourself. Modern human predators usually behave as pack animals. Translation: you will have to deal with more than one attacker. They also prefer to operate under the concealment of darkness. Wonderful. If you are ever attacked, you will need to be able to shoot rapidly and accurately at multiple targets in the dark or semi-dark, while you are moving. Yes, while moving! By moving while you shoot without compromising your marksmanship, you will increase your odds of success tremendously. Obviously, a moving target (you!) is harder to hit. This is your formula for a realistic self-defense capability.

There is also the need to control distance. You do not want your attackers physically on top of you; distance is your friend. You cannot be mugged at 10 feet! Remember that the advantage of a firearm is that you can reach out and touch someone. If you are close, you are an easier target for them, whether it be gun, knife, club, or fist. If you are a student of the Turnipseed Technique, you are presumably a better shot than they are. Greater distance is to your advantage. Move! Your tactical options will multiply. You can use the art of positioning.

Remember the fundamental principle of balance? In order to move instantly in any direction you must first possess balance. If you tense the muscles in your chest and shoulders, your center of balance will move from just below your belly button (where it should be) to your upper body, and you will easily lose your balance. If you anchor yourself to the ground in order to lean into the shot, you will possess neither balance nor mobility. When you shoot while moving, some of your shots will be taken when you have only one foot on the ground. This is the practical application of Kent’s demonstration of shooting the shotgun and maintaining his balance while standing on one leg! Remain static and die; be dynamic (move!) and win (live!).

As you move you will use body indexing to center your shots on target. If you feel any panic or intense fear, your eyes will tunnel vision onto the threat rather than focus on your front sight. With multiple attackers within 12 or even 20 feet you will not have time to continually refocus your eyes back and forth between your sights and the multiple threats, anyway. You are out-numbered, and they are shooting at you! Time is of the essence. No double taps. Not enough time. Just one round per target to slow them down and to buy you more time for follow-up shots. And you do not stop accurate shooting until there is no longer any threat.

Let us examine this same scenario, at night. Does anything change? No. Body indexing will put you on target at these close self-defense distances. You probably won’t be able to see your sights in the dark anyway, not even your night sights after the first muzzle flash. But, your technique is exactly the same as in daylight resulting in rapid and accurate fire. And what is the psychological effect of all of this on your attackers? If the sum of their expletives is the equivalent of one giant "oops! we've picked on the wrong person!," this mental pause on their part will buy you more precious time. You need to work every advantage to stay alive.

Remember your relaxed muscles? Both your reflexes and your movement will be quicker than those of someone who is tensed. Being balanced and relaxed is essential for fast reaction times and being able to quickly address multiple targets through 360 degrees while moving. Try this with your head bent over to one side. If your spine including your neck is not straight, you are not in skeletal alignment. Your balance is gone. Having your head erect and looking directly at your target also affords you the maximum peripheral vision. This optimizes your ability to see all of the multiple threats and to recognize which are the most immediately threatening so that you can prioritize which to address first.

Of course, tactically, you do not ever want to be in a situation where you would have to address your attackers in 360 degrees. Awareness is your first defense. Condition Yellow is a state of relaxed awareness. It should be your minimum level of awareness whenever you are outside of your home or other safe refuge. But you still want to be capable of addressing attackers in 360 degrees, just in case. Anything can happen, and you must be ready. And if your attackers do attempt to surround you, your mobility and shooting proficiency will maximize your ability to utilize tactical positioning to thwart them. The elements of the Turnipseed Technique blend together and reinforce each other. The whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.

The ultimate validation of Turnipseed is that his technique is transferable to others. All of his assistant instructors and most of his advanced students can perform his "impossible" feats of shooting prowess. At times a few can perform them almost as well as Kent, himself. No previous shooting phenomenon has ever left a disciple that has been the equal of his master. The reason is that the incredible shooting abilities of those past masters’ were a result of their rare personal talent and endless practice, not because of an outstanding method. The fact that Kent can teach others to perform his feats is the ultimate proof that he has developed a superior method.

The Alexander Technique is a world-renowned system of mind-body coordination that improves breathing, posture, and well-being. Kent first heard of it in late 1995. He realized then that he had been independently applying its principles of anatomically correct posture to the art of defensive shooting. Turnipseed is validated by Alexander. When a technique is founded upon true principles, it becomes a springboard rather than a limitation of the human potential. The result promotes physiologically efficient movement. This explains why you will be able to address multiple targets in 360 degrees rapidly and accurately while you are moving, kneeling, or laying on the ground, in the dark! This kind of capability has simply been unheard of until now. Your potential to become a stable yet agile and dynamic shooting platform can now be achieved.

So can you learn how to do all of this in one easy lesson? No way. All genuine skills take time and practice. However, when a technique is based on valid principles and is combined with good instruction, it is amazing how quickly skills can be acquired. This is especially true for beginners and novices. The reason is that they do not have to un-learn any bad habits. De-training is tough; it will be the greatest frustration of the good veteran shooters. The irony is that the veterans will more fully appreciate the Turnipseed Technique because they will have something to compare it to. The beginners won’t realize what they really have. They will not understand that shooting is not supposed to be this easy. They’ll think that what they’ve just learned is normal! The veterans observe this and simply shake their heads (and this happens in virtually every Basic Pistol class!). C'est la vie!

Proficiency in any physical skill requires an understanding of its basic principles and much practice. The repetition of practice is necessary to develop the muscle memory for being able to move correctly without having to think about it, like stepping on the brake pedal of your car in an emergency. The basic body positions and movements must become automatic. Your mind is then set free to focus fully on the goal or task at hand. Whether blocking in football, riding a horse, swinging a golf club, or sparring in martial arts, you must be able to do it without having to think about the basic mechanics of doing it. Kent’s recognition of this fact is the reason that he allows former students to "repeat" the basic pistol class for $65.00 (1997 prices; subject to change) as many times as they want. What other shooting instructor makes this offer? To be able to spend an entire day at the range under supervision reinforcing proper technique, eliminating any bad habits, and building that all important muscle memory is simply the best deal going! You will find advanced students repeating the basic class along side of you because, having been through the advanced classes, they appreciate the importance of the basics. Even coaches of professional football players constantly stress the fundamentals. In the Turnipseed Technique good basics make the advanced techniques easy. Without good basics the advanced is impossible. Kent’s advanced students also realize that in a very significant way the Turnipseed basics are advanced.

Appropriate long arms, whether rifle or shotgun, are superior to handguns in power, range, and accuracy. The 30/06 equivalent battle rifle is the Queen of personal firearms (in Chess, the Queen is the most powerful piece). A skilled individual with a battle rifle is truly formidable. The overwhelming advantage of the handgun, however, is availability. It is small, light, portable, and concealable. It can always be there. This is why handgun skills constitute your basic self-defense. However, when long arms are available, they are obviously preferable. With the Turnipseed Technique, handgun skills transfer with minimal adjustment to riflecraft. This is truly revolutionary! Only your hand positions change; the rest of your body stays the same. Moving, addressing multiple targets, and going to the ground are all the same. Your practice with the handgun adds directly to your skill with a long arm!

The Turnipseed Technique teaches shooting as a true martial art. It perfectly fulfills the requirements of realistic self-defense in our morally bankrupt society so infested with human predators. There will never be enough policemen to protect you and your loved ones 24 hours per day. They will show up later only to take a report, after the fact. Male, female, husband, wife, there will always be times when you are alone and vulnerable. When your time comes, you will need the best tool and the ability to use it well. The Turnipseed Technique is shooting on the cutting edge. The method of the future is available today.

For Information:

Turnipseed FirearmsTraining
3298 N Glassford Hill Rd #104-164
Prescott Valley, AZ 86314-1294

Phone: (480) 802-0346

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Choosing A Method And An Instructor
TAMING a 12 Gauge
"Shooting as a Martial Art"
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