If I asked you what your most effective weapon in a dynamic lethal force encounter would be, what would your answer be?
Would it be pepper spray…
I have often heard people that practice martial arts and other fighting techniques claim that if you can’t win a fight without a gun, you won’t be able to win it with a gun. Most of them use this claim due to their desire to get more people involved in hand to hand self-defense techniques.
I believe such a blanket statement to be untrue. There are many people that have successfully defended themselves with a gun that would probably not have survived had they not been armed.
I submit, though, that the difference between a victim and a victor lies much deeper than the weapons or tactics employed during a fight. The average person with minimal training can set themselves up for success well in advance of a fight if they have the proper mindset.
The human brain is one of the most complex and amazing things on the entire planet. Running on only twenty watts of bioelectricity, it is capable of storing up to 3,500 terabytes of information at a rate of 2.2 quadrillion operations per second.
Compare that to your iPad which stores only 64 gigabytes at a rate of 170 trillion operations per second. I know the numbers are so high it’s difficult to grasp but the human mind runs approximately 13 times faster than an iPad and stores over 50,000 times more information. Even under extreme stress, the human brain can observe the events before it and make a decision on an appropriate course of action in a fraction of a second.
In other words, your ability to think cognitively through a deadly situation and your will to prevail in said encounter are much more vital to the outcome than your possession of any other weapon.
The question, then, is two-fold:
- How do we develop the proper mindset?
- How do we achieve the ability to “think” your way through a fight?
To develop the “right” mindset, you must first determine what is right. I believe the proper defensive oriented mindset could be defined as:
“A determination beforehand that, regardless of the amount of force applied by your opponent(s), you, using all tools and techniques at your disposal, will not submit or relent until you have prevailed.”
Of course, it’s much easier to say it than it is to live it. Part of this development is equipping yourself with the necessary knowledge, skills, and tools needed to follow through on your predetermination. It’s easy to sit on the couch and armchair quarterback dash-cam videos. It’s quite another thing to attend a Force on Force class to see if your “techniques” will work in a real fight.
- Knowledge – Take classes. Watch (good, credible, realistic) videos. Read books. Learn what to expect from both an attacker and yourself in a fight so you know what techniques are most reliable to counter an attack.
- Skills – Once you learn the techniques, you need to practice until you master them. This may involve a training partner or even additional training.
- Tools – Purchase and carry the tools you need to defend yourself. Are you going to use a gun? If so, is the gun you have a good gun to use in a fight for your life? What if you need to fight your way to your gun? Can you do that with your hands or do you need a knife or some other object to get the job done?
Spending the time, money and energy on the above list can result in a strong defensive mindset provided you have also considered the fact that failure will most likely result in your death or the death of a loved one.
In order to develop your cognitive abilities under stress, there’s really only one solution: Good reality-based defensive training.
A good defensive course should tell you what happens to your body under stress and why each of the physiological changes that occur is useful in a fight. This understanding of the body’s physiology is the first step in retaining some of your cognitive ability.
In addition, a good defensive course will put you through drills specifically designed to make you think about your situation and environment before you take a shot.
- Could you escape instead of engaging in a confrontation?
- Is there cover available to use?
- Do you need to change position so you won’t shoot an innocent person?
It is also necessary to consider the fact that, despite your training and preparation, you may not retain cognitive thought. It’s for this specific reason that the techniques you learn need to be as intuitive and consistent as possible (but that’s a different blog).
In conclusion, don’t take a concealed weapons course, buy a gun, and think you’re Rambo. Find a good instructor with a good reputation and a good reality-based defensive training course.
Taking the necessary steps to develop the proper defensive mindset and learning how you react under the relatively minor stress of a reality based defensive training course can provide you with a good foundation for success in a fight. The other things you need (i.e. gun, knife, hand to hand defensive techniques, etc.) only serve to enhance and solidify your structure.