Earlier today I ran into an old friend. Years ago we left a place of employment, going, each, our own way. He went to a correctional facility, and I started my own (industrial hygiene) business. During our reunion, he brought something up that I thought would be of interest to my readers, here:
You know, when I first started over there I got a lot of training. . . . hand-to-hand and a lot of firearm training. . . . As time went by the hand-to-hand stuff stopped, but I kept up with firearm training. Well, I got lazy. . . . Yeah. Lazy. I woke up one day and realized that I was over-reliant on my gun. Do you know what did it? We had an incident at the prison – luckily I wasn’t involved in it, but I heard about it – that led to two of my fellow officers being hospitalized. Nothing major, but they did get checked out, and got some time off to heal. Anyway, they were armed, too. So, it got me thinking of how I’d have fared in that situation. . . . Then it came to me: I used to train in martial arts as a child, and do sports, and practice hand-to-hand combat when I joined the prison; and, now I don’t do any of that. My gun has made me fat!
I have to admit that I’d never thought about the potential weight-gaining consequences of over-reliance on a weapon. I’ve thought of plenty other consequences (we teach to avoid them in our classes at the Yost Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy), but never that one. Until he brought it up. So, let’s look at a couple of things related to an over-reliance of a weapon (not just a firearm):
- Distractions. Distractions happen to all of us, every day. We start down a certain path, and something comes along and redirects our train of thought. (In psychiatry and neurology they call this pattern interruption. It is a goal of every fighter to interrupt the pattern of thought in their opponent(s) in order to redirect their energy to something besides beating the heck out of them.) One of the dangers every martial artist faces is complacency, which is it’s own distraction. Complacency tells the student, “You’ve arrived! You’ve done it! You’ve accomplished your goals! There’s nothing left to accomplish!” or “YOU are good enough…!” These distractions can redirect our energy to other things (e.g., leisurely activities) besides those that maintain our abilities as well as build upon ourselves. When this happens there are a number of consequences that will occur, like (my friend’s situation:) weight gain, slower reflexes, weakening of the mind and body, and other restrictions on our abilities.
- Restrictions. While it would be nice to say, “I go to the firing range, draw and fire my weapon often; I can use it to save my life.” The truth is that real combat situations often occur that require more of us – just so we can get to our weapon and do those things effectively. And, the truth of life is that if we aren’t maintaining our mind and bodies, the act of doing what’s necessary gets harder. Consider the following example given during a lecture I gave earlier this year on street fighting tactics:
If someone is intent on harming someone else, they will find a way to do it – unless something actually stops them. . . . Consider this example: There’s a guy that drives the same vehicle to work every day. Let’s call it a green van. And, this guy pulls in and parks in, nearly, the same spot every day. When he does, he’s nearly alone in that parking lot. Now, let’s say you want to harm this guy. He’s done something (or you think he has) so bad that you are intent on harming him, but you know he practiced boxing, or kickboxing, or some martial art, whatever. So, you don’t want to confront him hand-to-hand. You watch this guy and come to the conclusion that the best place to surprise him is that parking lot. So, you go there, hide behind a car, bringing a baseball bat or knife or some other weapon with you when you go. When he pulls up, you attack him, and harm him. That’s the way of things. . . . I, myself, went through something similar. There were some skinheads who weren’t happy with me, but didn’t have the nerve to face me. So, they drove past my house and shot it up, one day. (Just FYI: Not the house I live in now. This was before I moved to Terre Haute (Indiana).) If someone is intent on doing you harm, they will do their best to find a way to harm you. “What kills the skunk is the publicity it gives itself.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
Every day, each and every one of us is faced with our own distractions and restrictions. That doesn’t mean we cannot be ready and able to defend ourselves if required. It does mean, however, that we have to proactively seek the necessary discipline and skill to maintain and grow in our abilities. It reminds me of something my second teacher told me: “There’s no such thing as standing still. Like a plant, you are either growing or declining.”
In fact, most of our distractions are self-inflected behaviors. Did you know that? Yep. Consider the person addicted to the mobile phone. Have you ever seen a couple in a restaurant spending more time in their phones than looking and talking with each other? (I have!) Or the distracted driver, who can’t wait for a green light (i.e., sit at a red light) without reading an email or text and responding? (I’ve honked from behind a few of these – at a green light.)
Part of any self-defense training should include behavioral analysis. This allows the student to come to some individualized understanding of behavioral changes they need to make in order to secure their training if its called upon; otherwise, when the sucker-punch comes they won’t be able to positively respond (i.e., defend themselves). This is true of the weapons-wielding fighter as it is the empty-hand fighter. If you can’t get to your weapon in a way, shape and form that allows you to effectively use it, it’s useless to you; and, that kind of inability may be caused by things besides your ability to practice a draw, aim and shoot (e.g., a reduction in motor skills as a result of weight gain or increase in mindlessness, etc.).
Empower yourself to life! ™
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