I frequently say to trainees; if you stay ready you won’t have to get ready. I stress to them that this is a lifestyle. That is just how it is, and while some will jump all in others are happy to dabble. After years of studying and applying this material I’ve realized that some will never quite get it, and that’s okay. However, for those that do this post is for you.
Whether it’s our strength and conditioning, skillset, equipment, or something as simple as hydration, if we stay ready we won’t have to get ready. How ready is ready? Only you can answer that question. Let’s look at a few examples.
For most this probably means abstaining from over indulging in intoxicating substances that would impair our ability to be ready. I don’t know how ready I’ll be to perform CPR or apply a dressing to a wound if I’m so intoxicated I can barely stand. Some might say well how often have you had to apply a dressing to a wound or perform CPR? To that I would respond, ever spent time around little kids? It’s not if, it’s when they will hurt themselves or choke on something. Be ready so you don’t have to get ready. If a friend calls and needs help with an emergency at home such as a tree limb crashing through the roof of his home, (true story), how ready will I be to assist him in his moment of need if I’ve spent the night downing alcoholic beverages? How ready will I be to help myself if it’s my home that was impaled by a tree? Fortunately I was ready, and could respond to help.
Let’s think about how we drive. When we’re behind the wheel are we really ready? How close are we to vehicles when we stop behind them at intersections? Is there enough room to maneuver should we need to get out of there? Or did we pin our own vehicle in because we weren’t ready? Do we drive with both hands on the wheel, heads up and scanning? Or do we drive with one finger on the wheel, talking to others, not really paying attention to what is going on around us? If we drive ready we won’t have to get ready. Human reaction time is what it is, and we aren’t immune. Being ready cuts down on some of that reaction time. It’s better to see the guy in the lane next to us that’s texting, driving, and drifting into our lane before he hits us. As opposed to having our response time involve observing the potential issue, get both hands on the wheel, sit up properly behind the wheel, and performing defensive driving tactics to avoid or minimize our collision with his vehicle. If we’re ready we don’t have to get ready.
I’m not saying you should never enjoy an adult beverage or that you should drive as if your driver’s ed instructor is sitting in the passenger seat. I am saying we should give due consideration to our daily activities and ask ourselves; am I ready for things to go wrong? If not, what do I need to do to correct this so I am ready?
It’s impossible for me to discuss mindset without talking about hellacious practice and training sessions. Times when we couldn’t carry ourselves off the mat or out of the ring after practice. Times when we collapsed trying to walk to our car after a conditioning session. Or those times when we slept in our car because the thought of walking up the steps to get into our house where we would have to walk up another flight of stairs to get to the shower was just a miserable thought.
We learn mindset by pushing ourselves to the breaking point physically. Pushing those edges is where we learn our mind is much more powerful than our body. The mind drives the body beyond perceived thresholds. Then we do it again, and push even farther.
Is it necessary to train and practice at that level every time? No.
Is it necessary to have trained and practiced at that level for a time? Yes.
Have a listen to Josh Hinger at the 8 minute mark in this video talk about the mindset of a champion, and the training intensity that this mindset brings to each session.
Claude Werner, the Tactical Professor, is someone I respect and look up to. His insights into violence, and violent encounters has shaped the way I approach training and preparation for the fight. I’m re-posting his blog post on the North Hollywood Shootout. Pay attention as Claude points out valuable lessons that apply to the private citizen.
In the midst of the hullabaloo recently, a major historical even has been largely overlooked. On February 28, 1997, a huge shootout took place in North Hollywood (Los Angeles) California. On one side were two heavily armed and armored bank robbers. On the other side were hundreds of Los Angeles Police Officers. The shootout lasted […]
It’s that time of year again. Please let your elderly family members know to keep their doors locked, and don’t allow anyone they don’t know into their yard and/or home. If someone they don’t know rings their doorbell they can speak to them through the door, there is no need to open the door. If they insist that they open the door, call 911. The police would love to make contact with the senior scam artist, particularly the physically aggressive senior scam artist. Because of the neighborhood I live in, (nice area, historical district, most of the residents are seniors though this is rapidly changing), we get these a few times a year. As William Aprill has said numerous times, just because you avoid stupid people, stupid places, and stupid things doesn’t mean they will avoid you. As a matter of fact they just might seek you out since you have things they wish to take, by force if necessary. (Refer to the three reasons people resort to violence.)
Yesterday I answered my door to find two guys offering to trim the trees that are touching the power lines in my backyard. I decided to let this play out to see how it would go.
I said there are no power lines in my backyard. “Maybe you aren’t aware of them? My associate can show you…”
This is a tried and true scam. powerline touching trees, shingles missing from the roof, or the offer to give you an estimate on spring cleaning yard work are all common scams. It allows them access to your home while the runner takes you on a road trip around your property, keeping you away from the home while they steal everything valuable. Usually they make a bee-line for the bedrooms as that is where most folks keep jewelry and extra cash. They are in and out fast because they are pros. This is their job.
A couple of things happened during this exchange that should set off alarms. He reached for the door handle to open the door. It was locked but he tried several times to open the door. Is this something normal people do? No. Normal people don’t attempt to open the door of a stranger’s home. This is someone who doesn’t recognize boundaries. I’m sure this is how he’s gained access to other homes while running this scam. He said, “I’ll wait here while my partner takes you back there to show you. Put your dogs away, and meet him by the gate…” No. I don’t need to go anywhere and your partner doesn’t need to go into my backyard. Also, they already knew there was a locked gate, and dogs. Another warning sign; they’ve already done their recon. Which leads me to believe this isn’t random, they’ve done enough recon to know the lay of the land. However, they didn’t do enough to know I was home as they seemed genuinely surprised when I answered the door. Which leads to another commonly used tactic. The criminals will ring the doorbell and if there is no answer they will kick in the back door to burglarize the residence. This will, or should, influence your decision to answer that doorbell. Answering it involves interacting with the unknown contact. However, not answering rolls the dice on them kicking the door of what they might think is an unoccupied residence. Be prepared for either.
They continued to push the angle of attempting to gain access to the backyard of my residence while also coercing me into opening the locked storm door through which I was engaging them. I decided I had learned all I needed to learn from this interaction. I let them know I knew what they were up to. Any further action on their part, (other than leaving my property immediately and never returning), would involve a vigorous response. They chose to move on. I have neighbors that are openly and publicly opposed to our right to self-defense. Those residences would be a much better target for the criminal offender. Hell, if the criminal offender tells them they are a convicted felon they will probably give them a hug and help them load their bags with the family valuables. For the rest of us, pass the word to your loved ones particularly the elderly as that’s the most frequently targeted demographic. It’s that time of year, again.
One of the first of many cool sayings I heard as a young man in the fight game was; hit first, hit fast, hit last. I’ve heard this attributed to a number of folks so I really don’t know who I should say I’m quoting. Teddy Atlas? Cus D’Amato? Salim Assili? This would seem to be one of those universal truths that apply to any fighting art. Bottom line, as one that was brand new to the game this was an important lesson for me to learn.
It would seem self-evident but sometimes we need an outside voice to give us permission to make the first move in defense of life and limb. Putting my hands on someone without waiting for them to put their hands on me was a foreign concept. Most of us have been taught by family, friends, and society to avoid throwing the first punch. The person throwing the first punch is always the aggressor therefore, wrong. At this point I realize how wrong I was to accept this as true back then, and after having witnessed a few violent confrontations I can assure you I have no issue throwing the first punch. Think about it this way, how many hits can you take before you’re unconscious? Once unconscious you can no longer defend yourself or your loved ones. Don’t let that happen. You need to act, and act right now. You can solve the legal challenges after the fact, with the help of competent counsel but right now, in the moment when your gut is screaming that something just isn’t right? You gotta get it on before he makes his move.
In police work recruits are taught to watch the hands when making contact with citizens.
In the first course I took from Paul Howe we were given a scanning hierarchy when dealing with folks we encountered. Guess what the second item on the list is? You got it, the hands.
In the first seminar I attended by Megaton Diaz he made a statement that has stuck with me over 20 years later. “Never let them touch you. If they grab you grab them back.” Megaton was speaking to the importance of never allowing our opponent to establish a grip on us, to always monitor and control the opponents hands.
It seems there is a string that threads through every potentially violent endeavor. The opponent’s hands will hurt you if you don’t control them.
In particular I can’t over emphasize the importance of monitoring the hands of an unknown contact. Your ability to apply your avoidance, deterrence, and deescalation skills are greatly enhanced by your ability to monitor the unknown contacts hands.
Uncontrolled hands for some reason, (looking at you Murphy), seem to migrate to our weapons, don’t let that happen. Control the hands, control the space/distance, get to a dominant position, and finish them.
This is an interesting class to teach as we cover a broad spectrum of material with a wide variety of skill ranges in a short period of time. This can be a challenge for some coaches but when you have the opportunity to work with coaches of Larry and Cecil’s caliber there is no challenge they haven’t faced at this point so I knew we would be good to go.
There are always lessons to be learned in these courses for the students as well as the coaches. However, one of the lessons that’s consistently reinforced is conditioning matters. We all could use a little more conditioning, and I know I’ll be working hard on improving my conditioning.
The next lesson that is consistently reinforced; a little bit of Jiujitsu goes a long way. You don’t need a black belt level knowledge or even a blue belt level knowledge. However, just a little bit of Jiujitsu in the form of several months of consistent effort will pay huge dividends in an Entangled Fight.