26 Jul , 17

Force Multipliers and Force Disparity

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Force Multipliers and Force Disparity are the topics in this article and there is a very important acronym for you to remember as it relates to the Use of Force .

In combat we define a force multiplier as follows:

A capability that, when added to and employed by a combat force, significantly increases the combat potential of that force and thus enhances the probability of successful mission accomplishment.

In the realm of self defence it often means the use of weapons and or weapons of opportunity which we have discussed in the past.

Where this becomes important is that you can utilize a force multiplier to amplify your effort. This means the same output coupled with a force multiplier increases the effectiveness or force of that output.

Think about it like this…

The most effective tools amplify force in the greatest magnitude. A power saw is far more effective at multiplying force than a handsaw is. A dump truck can carry more than a wheelbarrow. A rocket can launch a payload farther than a slingshot.

A quick example is that perhaps you find yourself in a situation where you are cornered and you know you are going to need to throw a strike.

Your strike may be effective on its own, however it may very well be amplified if you slip your keys between your fingers.

If Force Multiplication is the Ying in self-defence then Force Disparity is the Yang. You must consider a level of force that is appropriate, using only as much force as is necessary to stop the threat.  You must be familiar with the laws of your land.

The factors establishing a disparity of force include:

  • Age
  • Overwhelming size
  • Overwhelming strength
  • Force of numbers
  • Advanced skill in unarmed combat

Males against females is sometimes considered as a category as well. Size, strength and aggression are typically male attributes, but not exclusively.

I’ve worked with some badass women in my day that have survived life threatening scenarios and could drop most men.

To be clear there are women who can beat down the average man.

Even if all the factors are present I highly recommend you follow the simple rule to make every and all efforts to avoid the use of deadly force, or any force for that matter. 

In countries where firearms are permitted and concealed carry accepted it remains true that you are only allowed to use the deadly force of a defensive firearm to protect yourself or another innocent person from death or grievous bodily harm.

There is a simple acronym you can remember to guide you in these kinds of encounters. For the record, you WILL be required to process ALL of this information in a ⅛ to ¼ of a second.

The acronym is IMOP. I have also heard it taught as WIMP, but the theory remains the same.

I – Intent – You must be able to show that the threat, in this case your assailant, wanted to do you harm. You must be able to specifically articulate how you knew. Someone screaming, “I’m going to kill you!” is fairly clear, at least if his body language backs up his words. If the threat balls up his fist and draws his hand back, you can explain why you believed he was about to hit you. If a threat suddenly reaches under his jacket, you may believe that he is going for a weapon and can explain that too.

Intent is critical. The law is clear, without intent there is no threat. No justification for force. Therefore no justification for action.

M – Means – All the intent in the world does not matter if the threat couldn’t realistically hurt you. If the an elderly 85 year old woman says she’s going to end you, chances are she doesn’t have the means (generally speaking and exclusive of clear evidence of weapons).  .

Most people have some means at some level—fists and boots and size. Others have weapons or indicate that they have weapons.

If you are involved in an encounter with someone who threatens you, they certainly had better have the means to actually carry out that threat.

O – Opportunity – Intent and means do not matter if the threat cannot reach you. If someone is screaming he is going to kick your ass from across the room, he may be a threat but he is not an immediate threat. You can’t shoot him.

If he has a gun, being across a room does not matter as much. You have a pretty good argument that you were in danger. Similarly, someone waving a knife at you from inside a vehicle while you are walking on the sidewalk is not an immediate threat. If he slams the accelerator and heads in your direction, the situation has dramatically changed.

Even uttering threats for that matter. If someone calls you on the phone and says I am gonna come over there and punch you out… but they are calling from another country, they really don’t have the means to inflict the harm they are threatening

P – Preclusion – This goes back to our Rule #1 – Avoid the fight. Even if intent, means, and opportunity are clear, there is one other requirement you need to consider and satisfy.

You must be able to show that you had no less violent alternative other than physical force before engaging an opponent in combat. If you can retreat without further endangering yourself and it can be demonstrated you didn’t… my friend you will suffer very serious consequences . After all, it is impossible for the other guy to hurt you if you are not there… (that may have been an adaptation from Karate Kid).

Make no mistake about it whether you use unarmed combatives or a firearm, you must be able to think clearly, assess the situation on its merits, articulate the threat to you or someone around you and then act in a reasonable manner.

At the end of the day all of this requires a thoughtful, measured response. You must be able to focus mentally, be clear on your convictions but be able to respond to threats in a manner that is appropriate.

Train your body and your mind. Work toward becoming a craftsmen and developing your knowledge, skills and abilities to your true potential.

Stand Apart,



Todd Lamb is one world's most trusted sources of Health and Fitness information and programming. He has dedicated his life to the service of others having served as a member of the Royal Canadian Regiment in the Special Service Force and as 17 year veteran Police Officer with 10 years on SWAT and 4 as a Team Leader. Todd is dedicated to transforming the lives of 1,000,000 men through honest science based information backed up with years of practical experience in Tactical Operations. Todd is a Best Selling Author of multiple best selling fitness programs and the book STAND APART

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6 thoughts on “Force Multipliers and Force Disparity

    1. Todd Post author

      Hey Gary, yeah these concepts are fairly similar through most commonwealth countries and a few that aren’t. I think deadly force encounters are difficult waters to navigate even when justified so probably saving some grief in the UK… although Im sure that is a much larger discussion! Cheers.

  1. Mark

    What about stand your ground laws? I’m not bring contrary, as avoiding or getting away from the situation should be a high priority. Just wondering where SYG laws come into play.

    1. Todd Post author

      Hey Mark,

      This isn’t being contrary at all but raises an important point. First and foremost I have never enforced this law while I worked as a police officer and it is more a legal concept of the United States than it is Canada. While in Canada you do possess the right to defend yourself, you will likely be charged with a criminal offence, should deadly force be used, after which the onus will be on Crown to prove that your actions were not in self defence or the defence of another person facing death or grievous bodily harm. This will be the most difficult time in your life. Now in the US, thirty-three states have adopted some form of Stand Your Ground law, according to the American Bar Association. Ten states have introduced bills to repeal or scale back their Stand Your Ground laws this year, and 13 states have pending legislation to strengthen or enact such laws, so it is contingent on where you leave. Regardless of the circumstances there will be a very lengthy and costly investigation and you will have to defend yourself. It ain’t like hollywood makes it seem. ~ Cheers.


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