I’ve been thinking a bit this last week about something Sensie Russell Wadell said at the Aikido clinic in Grapevine, TX. He asked something like this, “How far are you willing to go to stop someone from hurting you or a loved one?” My friends, this is a critical question that must be thought through if you are to survive a real threat. Please let me turn this question in a slightly different direction and ask you, “Do you want to survive?” The all-out commitment to survive is the most important element to that survival. This commitment includes a positive mental attitude, planning and preparation, regular and consistent training, and, when the shit hits the fan, a will to live.
Positive Mental Attitude
By positive mental attitude, I am referring to a high confidence level in your ability to do what needs to be done to survive an assault. Are you in good physical condition? Are you psychologically and spiritually prepared for confrontation? Do you have the skills and tools you need to survive?
You should exercise regularly and eat healthily. Think through the psychological and spiritual ramifications of injuring or killing another person. And make a self-conscious decision to make the effort and spend the money to acquire the needed skills and tools for self-defense.
A few years ago I met and amazing warrior, Lt Col Dave Grossman. I was fortunate enough to sit in on two presentations he made at my place of employment. I highly recommend two of his books, On Combat, The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and in Peace and On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society .
Planning and Preparation
Planning and preparation requires you to spend a bit of time meditating on “what ifs”. Play some scenarios by your mind’s eye. You are home alone and someone breaks into your house. Can you get to your handgun (or knife, sword, stick, etc.) easily and quickly? What will you use to protect yourself? How far will you go? Are you willing to use deadly force to stop the intruder? What would be a good plan? At what strategic locations should you place your weapons?
Creating and thinking through scenarios in this way, planning and preparing an appropriate response, greatly increases your ability to survive an attack. Make a plan, and work the plan. If you have no plan, you run the chance of freezing up, wasting valuable seconds deciding what to do. If your plan is in place and the moral questions about using deadly force are already contemplated, then your response can be swift and effective.
Regular and Consistent Training
Regular and consistent training, no matter what martial art you choose, including the use of firearms, is vitally important. Under the extreme stress of an attack, you will react according to the way you have trained. If you do not train at all, or rarely train, your conscious mind will switch off, and for a few vital seconds your response will be to do nothing. Obviously, it’s better to do something in those seconds than to do nothing. And even better is to do something effective to your defense, placing you in a safer and more defensible position. Some martial arts are better than others. Any martial art is better than none.
Will to Live
Finally, the will to live (the most difficult of these four points to articulate) — if attacked and injured, do you have the will to live? This can also be thought of in terms of the will to complete the mission at any cost. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to protect you or another from serious bodily injury or death. Do you have the will to carry this mission through? I believe that some people who have been shot and died did so because they gave up the fight. You are conditioned by television shows and movies, showing unrealistic responses to pepper spray, tasers, knives, and guns, that you expect, if tased to be knocked out, if cut or shot to die, so that you give up if injured. Self-consciously and deliberately determine right now, that if injured, you will continue the mission to the end.