Several weeks ago my younger brother was a victim of a strong-arm robbery. Two assailants attacked him from behind, immobilized him, ransacked his pockets and stole his wallet and phone. Afterwards, he couldn’t recall how he’d ended up on the ground. You could say that the attack’s success highlights a failure of situational awareness. And you’d be right. But it’s also important because the incident shows the need to “inoculate” yourself against stress. So that you can fight back when you find yourself at a supreme disadvantage, well behind the curve. It’s funny that . . .
Millions of Americans practice for a defensive gun use (DGU) without considering the real stress of a real DGU. They shoot at targets at various distances at various speeds and draw their gun from concealment (where allowed). Some work on tactical and administrative reloads. Some even practice shooting while moving, or firing from behind cover or concealment. Some do so from a variety of positions. Some even practice herding their precious loved ones and retreating while shooting.
But they don’t train under anything near the amount of physical, mental or emotional stress my brother experienced in the blink of an eye. Especially the physical part. Simply, put falling to the ground can seriously mess you up. Getting struck on the side of the head HARD and then falling to the ground and then trying to acquire a target? Extremely difficult. But worth doing.
If you want to prepare yourself for real world attacks, you have to begin by accepting the idea that a violent assault can arrive completely out of the blue. That a gunfight is a fight with a gun, and it’s not going to be pretty. You may know what you want to do when pushed or knocked around (or stabbed or shot) but you didn’t choose the time, place or nature of the assault. It doesn’t proceed according to your script.
Next, work to create an ability to fight from a position of great weakness, pain and general instability; to increase your odds of doing something when everything goes to hell.
Martial arts can help. Not in terms of learning any particular self-defense technique. For knowing what’s it’s like to be hit. Dazed. Confused. Exhausted. Angry. Obviously, you want don’t want to get the s4it kicked out of you. But fight training will help you understand and recognize your limitations under physical attack, so you can work through them.
Force-on-force (FoF) training is a must. Obviously, FoF is more about mental and challenges than physical damage. But what RF’s AFS vets call “operational familiarity” gives you access to a history of responses to extreme violence. If you know how to escape, evade or retaliate (e.g. throwing an object at an attacker), playing with pain will be a lot simpler and easier.
When you’re at the range, stay out of your comfort zone. Do push-ups to the point of muscle exhaustion and then stand up and shoot. If you wear glasses, shoot without them. Don’t practice what you’re good at; concentrate on your weaknesses (e.g., shooting off-hand). To maintain safety, get someone you trust to play Drill Instructor; making sure you don’t go for speed and follow safety rules. Have them bark unanticipated commands at you.
And lastly, get fit. Fighting fit. Lose unnecessary weight. Gain strength. Increase aerobic and anaerobic capacity. Physical fitness is more important for your survival in a fight than tightening your groups on paper or drawing your gun a fraction of a second faster. Because no matter what you think you’ll need in a self-defense scenario, you will be dealing with tremendous adversity and unplanned circumstance. Get as ready as you can be, and vow to never give up.