What’s in a Handshake

There are thousands of training videos available to martial artists. There is more knowledge available to us now than there has ever been through these videos. Countless numbers of these videos promise to teach you “secrets” of the particular area if interest. The question becomes, “Can you learn these secrets from a martial arts video?”

The short answer is that you can learn rudimentary skills from a video. The secrets though have to be transmitted directly from teacher to student. And usually it is through direct touch. It is through the sense of touch that you learn the subtleties of angles and force. This can never be learned from video.

Every other week I train at whistling Pines Gun Club on their tactical range. Here is a video of this week’s shoot.



As always I learned many things that I have to correct and practice. The most important thing I learned though came through a handshake. Our instructor Tony would score and critique what we were doing. After finishing a round he told me that I was relaxing/opening my left hand after each shot. This then meant I had to re-grip for each shot. This slows you down and changes the site picture each time.

Needless to say I had no idea that I was doing this. As he explained this to me he reached his right hand out to shake my hand. He then said, “That is how hard you need to squeeze the gun.” For a brief moment I thought the lesson was over. He then reached out his left hand to shake my left hand. He squeezed my hand much tighter than the other hand and said, “That is how hard you need to hold the gun with your left hand, and do not lose the pressure.” It was in that moment that I realized how effectively he had transmitted a “secret” of gunfighting to me.

The message to each student reading this then is that you need to find a competent instructor. And I use the term “student” to refer to instructors as well as those just beginning. A good instructor is probably fairly expensive. However if you ever wonder how valuable a good instructor is, I would just like you to ask yourself “what’s in a handshake?”