X Marks The Spot
by Kirk Lawson

"X marks the spot." Anyone who's seen (or *gasp* read) Treasure Island knows that the treasure map has a great big X indicating where the treasure is buried. That is the place you want dig. That is the place where you want to focus your efforts. The same thing goes in a gunfight. There is a point in space where you want to focus your efforts, where you want your bullets to go: into your opponent. The thing is, your opponent has the same goal. He wants to put bullets into you and he knows right where to dig because "X marks the spot!" You're standing on the X.


[Get Off The X]
As Second Amendment Training Foundation instructor Bill says, "get off the X."

It's really pretty simple. Where-ever you are standing at the moment, that's where the bad guy is going to be "aiming" his gun. So... don't be there. Move. Get off the X. Step to one side or the other, aim, fire. Lather, rinse, repeat.

To provide some visual illustrations, you're staring on the X (well, the "+" in this sketch).


[Ground Zero, the place where the bad guy is aiming, "The X"]

If you like to use a standard Isosceles stance, just shuffle smoothly to the left or the right. Aim. Fire. Repeat.


[When moving to the left, shuffle the left foot over first and follow with the right foot]


[When moving to the right, shuffle the right foot over first and follow with the left foot]

If you prefer the Weaver stance, it may be easier to step slightly forward and off-line or slightly back and off-line.


[Weaver stance allows one to step forward left and off the X, the right foot following]


[Weaver stance allows one to step backward to the right and off the X, the left foot following]

How to get out of the way of an incoming linear attack, however, isn't especially new or unique. All that has changed is what the attack is. In this context, it is the flight path of a bullet. However, fencers ("sword fighters") and knife-fighters have been dealing with this concept since weapons were invented.

WWI and WWII "Combatives," Bayonet, and Bowie Knife instructor Colonel A.J.D Biddle, himself trained in fencing, knife fighting, and fighting arts, wrote about historic "Get Off The X" techniques in his now classic book, Do or Die.

He wrote about "off the X" techniques which also combined an immediate counter attack: The Inquartata and the Stoccata.

"To accomplish the In-quartata thrust, step with the left foot to the rear and right of the right foot as shown in the foot position of Figure 21. But in the precise in-quartata movement the left step right rear is accompanied by a quarte thrust at the lower body of the opponent which the changed thrust position has place unguarded, 'out of line.' The opposite of the in-quartata movement is called stoccata and consists of a left step to left and thrust to lower right body as shown in Figure 20."



The footwork of the Inquartata can be a bit difficult to visualize but it is easy in concept. The right foot stays in place and acts as a pivot point while the left (rear) foot traces a partial circle in its movement until it is to the right of the line of attack and the front (right) foot. This moves the body out of the line of attack.


[Footwork diagram for the Inquartata - solid black is the original position, outlined is the ending position]

There was another common "off the X" and "attack with the same movement" technique sometimes taught: The Intagliata. By the end of the 19th Century or the beginning of the 20th Century, roughly, few educated fencers knew it, but those who did often believed it was more difficult to perform but was also highly effective. Instead of moving the left/rear foot, the right/front foot was moved forward and to the left, leaving the rear/left foot in place. This had an effect similar to Stoccata above in that it moved the body off of the line of attack, to the left.


[The fencer on the left is performing an Intagliata - note how his right/front foot is to the left of the line of attack marked out on the floor]

This is not to say that these fencing and knife fighting techniques can always be directly applied to gun fighting. Only that the concept is unchanged. If there is an incoming, linear, attack and you are the target, GET OFF THE X!