Self-Defense Tip: Get Fit

 Daryll Briston (courtesy

“On Dec. 15, 2012, Briston, the former Rankin police chief, was at the Meadows Racetrack and Casino in North Strabane Township,” reports. “Around 11:30 p.m., he ran into his estranged wife with another man. Briston approached the man and punched him in the face.” In the wake of the George Zimmerman trial, I think we can all agree that punching someone in the face is a bad idea for all concerned. Especially when you’ve got a pre-existing condition . . .

Security at the casino witnessed the violence and called police.

Briston took off running, but police caught up with him less than half of a mile away.

When he refused to be restrained, police warned they would use a Taser on him.

Briston didn’t comply and was Tased for two seconds in the upper-right leg.

He was placed into handcuffs and into the back of a cruiser.

A short time later, Briston started complaining about the handcuffs being too tight and shortness of breath.

An ambulance was called and Briston went into cardiac arrest. He was later pronounced dead at Canonsburg General Hospital.

“Essentially, what happened is you had a man with a preexisting heart condition that voluntarily engaged in strenuous, physical activity, consisting of assaulting another individual and then fled the scene, running and walking approximately a quarter-mile,” Washington County District Attorney Gene Vittone said.

So the chief was an OFBF (Old Fat Black Guy) guilty of FWF (Fighting While Fat). Members of TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia who’ve had the misfortune of experiencing a physical altercation will tell you: it’s an intensely exhausting business. If you’re not fit, that might be it.

A gunfight is a fight with a gun. Even if your firearm deters close-quarters combat you’re going to have The Mother of All Adrenalin Dumps increasing your heart rate, raising your blood pressure and diverting of blood away from your brain and internal organs into your muscles. Sustaining a BP of eight thousand over four hundred over time is not for the faint of heart—as chief Briston’s death proves.

The only solution: lose weight and exercise. Win – win. Even if you don’t ever find yourself in a defensive gun use or close quarters combat, you’ll live longer and better. I’m not saying you’ll be able to say “Go ahead and TASE me ‘bro.” But if push comes to shove your last thought on planet Earth won’t be “damn donuts!”


  1. avatar Nick says:

    Mind – Body – Technique

    You need all three. If you don’t have one, you really don’t have any of them.

    1. avatar thatoneguy says:

      Most people don’t realize this. They go out and buy all kinds of tacticool stuff, sit back, and say bring it on. Combat is physically exhausting. It always cracks me up listening to obese people talk about how they would react to contact, then get winded as they pick their fat self up out of the chair.

    2. avatar Dale says:

      So I do the best I can (regular walk on treadmill and such) but after three MAJOR surgeries where I was opened up from breastbone to crotch I will NEVER be truly “physically fit” again, ever. The doctors put me back together as best they could and I have a good quality of life, but barring a miracle I’ll never be 100% for my age ever again.

      Encouraging fitness is all well and good but comments like this need to be leavened with a healthy dose of “real world” too because there are an awful lot of us out there for whom the “body” part of your equation simply doesn’t exist. In fact I suspect that is the MAIN reason for the high sales of firearms for personal protection.

      1. avatar Accur81 says:

        What Dale said.

      2. avatar Mark N. says:

        I second. There are a lot of people whose physical disabilities are the reason for gun ownership; otherwise they are defenseless.

      3. avatar Jim R says:

        Do the best you can with what you have. That’s all anyone can reasonably ask of you.

    3. avatar SwissSpecial226 says:

      You’ve got that right, Nick. Too bad most people on this site are probably closer to “Gear-Donuts-Tacticool.” I thought it ironic to read this article’s title on a blog written by fat slobs. Have fun using your $2k AR-15s to shoot it out with heart disease.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        @SwissSpecial226, you need to get your estrogen levels checked again. The cramps are making you mean.

        1. avatar SwissSpecial226 says:

          Come on Ralph you can do better than that. You’re pretty much the only one on this sight that can write. Sorry that the truth hurts. But truth is if you spend more time on guns than fitness you are killing yourself. Heart disease is the #1 killer of adult males. Especially fat ones that dress up like fools and shoot their tacticool ARs every weekend.

        2. avatar Gyufygy says:


          Website. Sight lines.

        3. avatar JeffR says:

          Karma. That’s why I don’t criticize anyone’s writing on a blog. Karma guarantees there will be a typo in my comment. Btw, I find the overall quality of writing in TTAG’s comment field to be one of the best on the web. Of course, the bar is pretty low.

        4. avatar Ralph says:

          @SwissSpecial226, I have taken your criticism to heart, and I await your first full-length article submission so I will be able to see what great writing is all about.

          Ask your mom for help spelling the big words.

        5. avatar SwissSpecial226 says:

          Hue hue hue I made a typo. Great. All I see in these replies is disgruntled fat men. Rather than address the fact that you are a fat slob you high five each other that the guy pointing out your follies made a typo. This is the same attitude that leads you to be fat and in poor health while still believing the delusion you are masters of self defense and self preservation just because you own guns.

        6. avatar Derrick says:

          I would be a little more impressed by your comments Swissy if there weren’t so many stories of 75+ year old women and men defending themselves with pistols. Since physical prowess probably left them about 25 years ago, it’s apparent to me that simply by having a gun they were able to defend themselves from probably much younger and more active criminals. So while yes it’s important to engage in physical activity, it’s not a prerequisite to defending yourself with a firearm. And until you can prove that the people on here barring those over 60, just cause I’m nice to our senior population, are “fat slobs” then you really have nothing to say about these people. So jog on.

      2. avatar PavePusher says:

        Perhaps you should see Dale’s comment immediately above?

        Guns: Making the poor and/or weak equal to the armored knight with money and time to train, for going on 600+ years.

        That makes the nobility nervous, dontchyaknow…..

    4. avatar Dan says:

      You need all three of those to stand a chance against someone else who’s also got all three.

      Citizen self defense isn’t against those people. Not a lot of burglars or muggers have been to Front Sight. You aren’t going to clear an entire shoot house full of them. You aren’t going to sprint after one of them to continue to fight. If you’re caught with your pants down such that you discover yourself on the ground grappling then you’ve probably already lost.

      Not being a fat slob is great life advice in general but successful self defense is the mindset to recognize a bad situation in time to have your hand on the gun while walking away before it starts.

  2. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

    amen. I only started carrying a gun regularly 2 yrs ago because my pastor had received death threats and some of the trustees knew I had a permit. But. . . I also realized I needed to lose 15-20 lbs. so I started training every morning. Lost the weight and when my pastor complemented me on it, I mentioned that I didn’t think I would be able to save him if I was out of shape. Also makes carrying a concealed weapon much easier . . . . and my suits fit better so I don’t need to buy new ones. win/win

    1. avatar Trey73 says:

      Cue Whitney Houston’s “The Bodyguard” song here….

  3. avatar JeffR says:

    I have to give reading TTAG and the comment section credit for finally getting me to take getting into shape and losing weight seriously. Made me realize that if my family needed me to defend them, I was no longer the 25-year old version of myself and I needed to be realistic that I couldn’t get the job done as an overweight slob. I have since lost 35 pounds and am 10 pounds away from where I was when I was 25. Thank you.

    1. avatar Pascal says:

      Congratulations, keep up the good work. The hard part is actually keeping the weight off not the initial loss.

      1. avatar JeffR says:

        Tell me about it. I lost a lot weight six years ago and put it back on. Hopefully, my family’s well-being is a better motivator to keep the weight off than the simple vanity that motivated my prior weight loss.

        1. avatar Gregolas says:

          Way to be JeffR! You’re an inspiration since I just started a new job where I’m at a desk all day,so I’ve started to exercise after work. Thanks for the good example!

    2. avatar jdb says:

      Wow. That was QUICK. Are you a spammer, because you don’t seem to be because there’s no link to a diet plan.

      Seriously though, congrats!

      1. avatar JeffR says:

        A little later, I’ll tell you how to make $10,ooo/month from home while losing weight. Link to follow.

        1. avatar Barstow Cowboy says:

          I heard that it had something to do with this one weird trick…

        2. avatar Ben in UT says:

          Doctors HATE him!

  4. avatar Ari9mm says:

    He’s not the first to have a heart attack after being Tasered…just sayin…..

    1. avatar g says:

      Hence the name, “less than lethal” rather “non-lethal” weapon… a couple of my friends who used to work in the defense industry, while attending a trade show, volunteered to get taser’d as a part of a demo. I told ’em they were nuts…

      1. avatar John in AK says:

        The correct term is ‘less lethal,’ not ‘less than lethal.’ Anything you can do to, or use on, a person physically to subdue them when they don’t want to be subdued can cause serious injury or death. ‘Less than lethal’ implies that the method will not cause death, which is impossible to guarantee; ‘Less lethal’ means that it isn’t supposed to kill, but it could, so it’s ‘less lethal’ than intentional deadly force.

    2. avatar Duray says:

      Everyone who gets tasered eventually dies. Doesn’t show causality. I’ve been tasered for school. Yes, it’s physicaly strenuous, but so is the fight that should otherwise be necessary to restrain someone.

      1. avatar UnapologeticallyAmerican says:

         Really? 1000s of volts of electricity can’t possibly be the cause of sending someones heart into an electrical arrhythmia that is fatal? The police need to be trained to consider all possibilities of using a tool, like a gun/tazer/pepper spray. When you choose to taze someone it isn’t always “harmless”, and they need to assess the situation. Was there another alternative? Could the police have deescalated the situation differently.
        After all what was the big crime? Punching some dude who is screwing your wife? Most would consider that ‘justifiable’. Probably ran because he knew he was in the wrong and didn’t want to be caught and embarrass the police department…. oops

        1. avatar Hannibal says:

          How much time should police spend ‘assessing the situation’ while they are fighting to arrest some idiot? Who should do this assessing, the cop who is now ALSO nearly out of breath from fighting or his supervisor, three miles away, who can’t even see what’s going on? What would ‘de-escalate’ this situation other than letting the bad guy win the fight and escape? Should they offer him a spot of tea and scones?

          What bullshit. You play stupid games, you win stupid prizes. Luckily the Supreme Court isn’t made up of people who think they know everything about being in a fight; they defer to the standard of reasonableness when it comes to force. And when the options are a taser vs beating \ choking someone into a compliance, the former is much less dangerous. Unless your position is that someone who runs should just be let go (in which case you should be the Democratic mayor of a city!). And who says police are not trained to know that the Taser can cause harm? Of course it can. So can a baton, pepper-spray, gun, and knuckles. There are clear examples of police misusing a Taser… like when one was used against a suicidal subject on a ledge (derp!).

          But since we’re on the topic of Tasers, it’s not the volts that kill you, it’s the amps… and Tasers have very little amperage. There are lots of claimed deaths from taserings, but very little in the way of evidence to show that the deaths were a direct cause of the current to the heart- rather than, as in this case, a likely result of overexertion and pre-existing conditions.

  5. avatar Brian says:

    Great, now I want a donut.

    1. avatar gloomhound says:

      Donuts do sound good don’t they.

  6. avatar TRP says:

    As in other recent “events,” his poor decisions and uncontrolled temper were the ultimate cause of his demise. Just saying….

    1. avatar ThomasR says:

      Whoa! pretty radical dude! Are you really saying HE was ultimately responsible for his death because of bad judgement;like Bad eating, bad temper, bad decision to assault some one,bad decision to run, bad decision to resist arrest, leading to being tased and then having a heart attack as a result?

      He’s not a victim here? Don’t know if a can wrap my mind around such a strange concept. (sarc)

  7. avatar Matt in FL says:

    “Sustaining a pulse rate of eight thousand over four hundred over time is not for the feint of heart…”

    I’m pretty sure you meant blood pressure, not pulse rate. Oh, and faint of heart.

    Rule #1: Cardio

      1. avatar Robert Farago says:

        Text amended.

    1. avatar Martin B says:

      It’s feint if he’s faking it!

  8. avatar Shire-man says:

    All this time watching those “Prepper” shows I thought morbid obesity was a key component to surviving? Damn.

    1. avatar Greg in Allston says:

      I like to think of them as being a well marbled source of protein and tallow.

      1. avatar Gregolas says:

        The “beer gut” was described by Mel Tappan as a “cleverly concealed modular food-storage unit”.

    2. avatar Martin B says:

      Don’t knock it. A fair number of shooting “victims” (as in it was really a public service) survived due to multiple layers of personal internal space. Didn’t help Biggie, though. Also if stranded on a desert island, or lost at sea, or lost in snow, an extra layer or two really can increase the chances of survival. And if too puffed to fight, you always just sit on the opponent. Besides, the purpose of an “equalizer” is just that, to even out disparities of physical combat readiness. All those hours of gym work and combat training count for nothing if a fat old guy pulls the trigger on you.

  9. avatar Aharon says:

    Great post Robert. I’ve long thought there is too much focus at TTAG of the gun as the almost exclusive factor that is overly relied upon. Getting into shape, leaning at least basic self-defense moves, carrying pepper spray when it can be used instead of a gun, etc are all things that should be considered in the overall big picture of self defense and protection. I’ve just started sipping my morning coffee so I hope this comment makes sense.

  10. avatar jwm says:

    I have lost a lot of weight in the last 2 years. I’m still fat but working on it. 20 + years of working 2 jobs and eating mostly fast food will kill you as surely as a bullet.

    I have had, in my younger days, the experience of going one on one with people intent on doing me great harm. Not fun. But if I was to have to chose between going hand to hand with a drug fueled opponent, something I’ve done before, or the adreniline dump of shooting same, I’d chose the dump.

    I’ve used hands and I’ve used guns. Neither one is fun. But the stress of hand to hand is much greater than shooting. IMHO.

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      I second this. I’ve been in a few knock-down, all or nothing, for-for-alls. I got very tired, very fast. Kinda shocked me. I thought I was in shape. Ha!

      1. avatar Joke & Dagger says:

        In all seriousness jwm and you other guys and gals, good job and keep up the weight loss. You don’t see any fat 75 year olds.

    2. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      The one time I did have to shoot someone — with a bolt rather than a bullet, no less — there was seemingly no adrenaline dump, very little time distortion and no shaky come-down.

      A quarter century later, that still does worry me some. I’d rather not view myself as some sort of sociopath.

      1. avatar Ardent says:

        You might read Lt Col Dave Grossman On Killing. He does quite a treatment on the different reactions to doing violence to others. Basically there is no ‘weird’ reaction, just different people reacting different ways. Doesn’t make you a sociopath.

  11. avatar Grande says:

    Somehow, Paula Deen is responsible for this.

  12. avatar Sixpack70 says:

    I enjoy crossfit and eat paleo/primal and have done so for the past three years. It’s better prepared me for strenuous physical activities and my weight easily stays low as I am not hungry all of the time like nutrient deficient low fat diets.

    1. avatar phantom72 says:

      I just started a crossfit type work out routine 4 weeks ago. You can not appreciate how out of shape you are until you actually push yourself through this type of workout. I have not lost weight per se, but my waist is shrinking & I am toning & building muscle. My BP is down, & cardio endurance is through the roof already.

    2. avatar Joke & Dagger says:

      Careful on that paleo stuff. Our ancestors, if not eaten by the tigers, died from heart disease through red meat diets.

    3. avatar RLC2 says:

      More great advice, Robt,
      especially while ammo prices still high…
      less time at the range = more time at the gym.

      Read “Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taubes.
      Lost 30 lbs, dropped cholesterol into healthy, and BP down 20 pts just by changing a couple eating habits.

  13. avatar Jeff says:

    Sad, sad story. I always liked Carl Winslow.

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      Well done!

    2. avatar Grande says:

      Not that got a chuckle outta me!

  14. avatar Paul53 says:

    It’s not useful when people think there is only one way to do things. Everybody has to do what works for them. If I were 20, could run marathons and work out daily I could take martial arts and be prepared.

    But I’m a 60 year OFWG with muscular dystrophy. My immune system treats my muscles as an infection and tries to destroy them. If I were to work out, I would end up weaker than when I started. So “get fit” has to be different for me, and for almost everybody. People preaching that they have the one true answer seldom have carp.

  15. avatar Ralph says:

    A cop with anger management issues? Impossible.

  16. avatar ST says:

    The number one killer in America is heart disease,not death by gunfire.Gun websites should include a question at checkout which asks when the last time you worked out was.If it was over a month ago,you’ll be redirected to a fitness website..
    This may seem insensitive,but dying from preventable diabetes or heart failure with $10k worth of firearms constitutes a Pyrrhic victory.

  17. avatar PNG says:

    Been running 3-4x a day for four months. I’m tanned, leaner, stronger, and just feel damn good despite living on a raft of personal problems this year. Only problem is I’m starting to look a bit gaunt now, but I’m probably healthier than a lot of young people my age.

    1. avatar PNG says:

      Not “a day,” a week. And I also do some weight training as well.

    2. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      Three to four times per day, or miles per day…?

  18. avatar Crashbbear says:

    I love how everyone on the internet is either ripped or has fibromyalitosis-thyroiditis and thats why they’re fat.

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      Not me. I’m fat(ter than I should be) because I’m lazy and I like to eat. I’m not a slug, but I’m really not in shape, either.

      1. avatar Crashbbear says:

        correction, mostly everyone

        1. avatar Joke & Dagger says:

          I’m ripped. And a chick magnet. And fabulously wealthy. Really.

    2. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      Not I. I’m like the Chinese military: so so, but with pockets of excellence.

      I’m a 51 year old dude who wears a khaki collar; how would I look?

    3. avatar Ardent says:

      That often seems to be the case. . . I’ll be another exception, I’m lean but my cardio is terrible. I’ll give you a vicious fight. . . for about 30 seconds. If you want to rest with me for a few minutes we can do it again!

  19. avatar Out_Fang_Thief says:

    Housekeeping! “So the chief was an OFBF (Old Fat Black Guy)”

    That would be OFBG, with a ‘G’, yes? Or even FOBG.

    The story shows us the essence of karmic symmetry, don’t you think?
    Much to this guys surprise, the karmic payback was almost immediate.

  20. avatar Andy says:

    I have lost 125lbs,in 18months on a high protein diet.I am 6 feet tall now weigh 250lbs,have gone from a waist size 62 down to a 42,shirt size 3x to an XL,feel better than I have in 20 years,I am 57.i do plan on losing at least down to 225lbs.For you younger folks take care of your self while you are young so you don’t have to sacrifice when you get older.Be prepared and ready.Keep your powder dry.

    1. avatar Joke & Dagger says:

      Great job Andy! 200 though should be your max.

  21. avatar daveR says:

    When I go to the range or gun club, I see a lot of corn-fed-plumpness. While I am in better condition than most people (not ripped) my fitnesss–like my shooting–can alwas stand some improvement.

    So, serious mirror gazing time–how many of us here are actually in shape?

    1. avatar Joke & Dagger says:


    2. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      Not I.

      Oh, I’m not ridiculously fat — but “in shape” I ain’t. I can and do work hard, rather than working out. While the body NAZIs insist that such a regimen doesn’t exercise everything, any muscle I don’t use building a building is a muscle I don’t need.

      I can lift a great deal and my pinkies are stronger than most other people’s fingers of choice, but I cannot run for sh¡t. Something subtle wrong with my lungs.


  22. avatar Ted says:

    While Molon Labe is appropriate in gun culture, we could all use another Greek saying:

    “A sound mind in a sound body.”

    I try to get 30 min of cardio in 3-5 times per week. Laying off the carbs also helps.

  23. avatar Martin B says:

    Stupid is as stupid does. This man may have had high blood pressure (in fact I guarantee it), which among other things, shortens and aggravates the temper. The blood vessels in the frontal cortex were likely compromised as well, leading to impaired decision making and poor impulse control.

    A sudden flaring up of anger, culminating in a violent attack, then a breathless sprint away, followed by another confrontation, this time with Police and a Tazer. Coupled with a constricted posture forced by handcuffs, stuffed into the back seat of a Police cruiser, this looks to be a recipe for the worst day of someone’s life. The contemplation of Court appearances, legal costs and public humiliation, all placed more strain on the Chief’s vascular system than it could handle.

    This is a useful lesson for all of us blessed by less than athletic physique and advanced years. The old saw to count to ten, before any action, comes into play as well. Private humiliation is far better and liveable than the escalating consequences of losing one’s temper. Most often the best thing to do is nothing.

  24. avatar Russ Bixby says:


    Mayhap his limited physical abilities, aggressiveness and poor planning skills contributed to the estrangement?

    Seriously, though, what was he thinking? He should’ve waited for the cops and taken his lumps. He knows exactly how they’d behave.

    ‘Mother tip: grow, buy or rent a brain.

    Oh, for what it’s worth, having sustained some nasty electrical shocks, I’ve found that a Taser doesn’t do to me what it does to most people — kinda like snake handlers and snake bites. Not that I’d challenge a cop to tase me, though.

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