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Tom’s Fitness & Paris Martial Arts

Self Defense in Today’s Society

Posted: February 04, 2016

Teddy Roosevelt’s entire foreign policy doctrine could be summed up by the phrase, “Speak softly, and carry a big stick.” And who can argue with the effectiveness of the “Powell Doctrine” of overwhelming force in the first Gulf War. 

I tell my students that you have to have the skill set to draw from, and the training to back it up. It takes 1,000 repetitions to be able to pull things off consistently under pressure. That may be an exaggeration, but not by much.

But sometimes you don’t have overwhelming force. Sometimes you’re smaller of stature. You might be weaker, or just look different. This can make you a target of opportunity. 

As an asthmatic child, I often found myself on the receiving end of peers who found me an easy target. No doubt I brought some of it on myself. Later, I found fitness and martial arts, and gained some skill and confidence. I also learned how to get along with others.

After 30 years of training, I’m pretty confident that I have at least a fighting chance, if things get bad. But I continue to train every day in something, whether it’s Boot Camp style workouts, Taekwondo, Brazilian JiuJitsu, Handgun tactics, etc. 

At 53, I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) that it’s better to be safe than sorry. And it’s far better to be ready and NOT need it, than to need it but not be ready. Training really matters, as does experience. 

The more specialized the skill, the more perishable that skill is, especially fine (small) motor skills. This can happen over time, through a lack of use. Conditioning breaks down. Muscle memory may carry on, but you aren’t nearly as sharp about it. 

What’s interesting, is that many skills can also degrade instantaneously. This can happen in times of extreme stress, or situational overload. Physiological changes like tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, and the inability to act, can all get you killed. 

That’s where training really becomes important, especially under stressful conditions. Many combat experts are calling it stress inoculation, and incorporating it into their regular training sessions. 

There’s training that allows you to acquire the skills you need, and then training that allows you to actually use those skills. One doesn’t necessarily produce the other. It takes both. 

The more lethal your potential response, the more control you better have over it. If you have a trigger at your disposal, you better have some darn good self control. Some good trigger control wouldn’t hurt either. 

Whether it’s a dynamic, street savvy self defense class, or a concealed carry class, you have to not only learn what to do, but when to do it. You also need to learn when NOT to do it. 

Sometimes it’s better to just walk away. Live to fight another day. Have some mercy when you can. Let it go. Know your limitations, and know your capabilities. It may let you cut someone some slack. 

So there you have some training ideas for today’s culture. The most important thing to remember, is to start training. The next most important thing is to keep training. Train safe, and train often!