Archives for February 2012

Stop Trying To Shoot Better

When I went shooting a few days ago I came to a familiar realization. Like many times before, I realized that when I try too hard I tend to screw things up. The more I ramp up the pressure on myself, the less smooth my actions become, and the more mistakes I make in my efforts to perform better.

Last weekend I was at the range working on improving my draw stroke and slide-lock reloads. To practice these skills I was using a 1Reload2 drill (draw, fire one shot, reload and fire two more). I was doing this drill with my shot timer in an attempt to measure how I was performing and push myself towards a faster time. What I found was that the harder I tried, the more often I would flub the draw or screw up the reload. My actions became jerky and not the smooth and calm movements I had emphasized in my dry-fire practice. Ultimately this hurt my time instead of improving it.

The same problems occur in my marksmanship training. These days I spend much more time teaching others how to shoot rifles than I spend shooting them myself. I’m trying to change that, but whenever I do get a chance to shoot a rifle I feel like the pressure on myself to do well is a huge barrier to success. I often start with a decent shot group, but the problem is knowing that I can do much better. I push myself to the point where my performance just gets worse, causing me more and more frustration. Eventually I have to pull myself back from the stress of trying too hard, and force myself to simply relax.

Rifle marksmanship, especially when you are talking about shooting using a sling, is ultimately about being relaxed. Let your bones and the sling do the support work while you align your body so you can make the shot. As they say, shooting is very much a mental game at this point. The harder you (or I in this case) actively try the more likely muscles are to become involved. I fuss the shot and as a result of trying too hard my groups open up.

Relax

If you find yourself having this problem yourself, go back to the basics. Be calm and collected and stop trying so hard. You’ll usually find that going a little slower and not making mistakes is actually faster than going as fast as you can and struggling the whole way there.

We put pressure on ourselves to do better with every shot, to increase our speed and get tighter groups. This pressure ultimately serves to do nothing other than to make things more difficult.

Personally I shoot the best when I have no expectations for myself. A couple years ago I had a chance to shoot my AR15 out to 600 yards. I was having trouble seeing the target through my iron sights and figured my rough elevation adjustment would be off anyway, so I really didn’t expect to even hit the target. I relaxed and shot a carefree group by the basics, and I was totally shocked when I saw the great group on my target.

I am fastest and most efficient when I worry less about speed and instead just worry about being smooth and practicing the fundamentals. You too may be surprised at the difference when you stop trying so hard to shoot your best. Focus on the technique rather than trying to make each shot perfect.

Remember slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

Does self-imposed pressure negatively impact your performance? Let us know and post a comment below!

Training as Insurance

Image by Timmo885

One way to look at your training is from the perspective that it is an insurance policy. I take out an insurance policy on my car because I don’t know what the future holds. I could get in a car accident on my way to work after writing this post, or I could go through the rest of my life without getting in a single accident. Insurance provides some peace of mind should an accident ever occur.

Similarly, I don’t know if I’ll be able to go through the rest of my life without ever needing to employ force to protect myself or my loved ones. I live in a nice area, so I don’t expect a break-in to be likely, but it could happen. I could be in the wrong place at the wrong time and have someone attempt to mug me. Just like I would buy insurance for my car, I insure against these scenarios by training.

Just as car insurance can’t prevent an accident from happening, most training won’t prevent an attack. However, awareness training and verbal skills can prevent a confrontation from escalating. Insurance and training both serve to mitigate risk, reducing the chance of an undesirable outcome.

Another parallel between insurance and training is that we can choose our coverage levels and decide how much we spend. For my car I have the choice of adding theft or fire coverage to my vehicle, knowing that these are both less likely to occur than say a fender bender. I can decide not to buy those coverages and gamble that I won’t need them.

The same thing happens with training. By deciding to work only on square range shooting skills, I can save myself time by not training my firearms retention skills or my ability to handle malfunctions. One could argue that the most likely defense scenario would only involve needing to pull out my gun and hold someone at gunpoint. When I make decisions like that I am taking a risk. I must acknowledge that I will not be covered under different, though less likely, circumstances.

You decide what risks you are willing to take, and the coverage level you want to have. The better the coverage you have in your training, the more costly it will be (in actual cost of instruction but also in training time). We don’t all have thousands of hours a year to dedicate to our training.

Sometimes with insurance we can base our coverage decisions on who we are. Are you a safe or reckless driver? How safe are the neighborhoods you typically drive through or park in? Similarly, we can make educated guesses at our training needs. The men and women who sign up to risk their lives serving our country are willingly putting themselves into harm’s way. As a result they know more coverage is probably worth their time. The average citizen can avoid bad areas and make smart decisions to mitigate risk and decide how much coverage is warranted.

Ultimately we can never know exactly what will happen to us or what situations we may encounter. We must weigh the tradeoffs and understand the risks and rewards of the level of training we decide to pursue. I believe just about everybody should invest in basic coverage (shooting skills and basic hand to hand skills). Some will consider and invest in high coverage levels (gun grappling, vehicular skills, etc).

Make sure you aren’t skimping on your insurance, keep training.

What level of coverage to you enjoy? Do you have all your bases covered or do you only have basic coverage? Post a comment and let us know.

How I Doubled My Hamstring Flexibility In 4 Weeks

Image by Dan4th

Flexibility is a hugely important attribute for anyone who is self-defense minded. Not only does it decrease risk of injury, but it increases our overall mobility. Mobility is key to surviving a violent assault. If you ever find yourself in a gunfight where you need to maneuver around cover or concealment or even find yourself entangled with your attacker, flexibility will certainly come in handy.

My own flexibility has always been above average. Training in karate from my youth has given me the skill and flexibility to kick to my own head height without too much difficulty. Despite my relatively good flexibility, on a good day with a great warm up and a lot of stretching, I might do a little better than just touching my toes.

When I sat on the ground and attempted to touch my toes, if I was lucky, I could barely touch my toes with my fingers. Embarrassingly, I couldn’t even sit straight up with my legs outstretched, instead I naturally needed to lean back.

One of my goals for 2012 was to improve this stretch. My measurable goal was to be able to comfortably place my palms on the floor out in front of me stretching from the standing position. As a corollary to this, I wanted to be able to reach my hands past my feet when sitting, and outright grasp the balls of my feet.

How I got there

I was quite surprised to reach my goal much faster than I had expected and with relatively little effort.

I started my path to improve my flexibility by following this guide with a three minute stretching routine. It offers several tips for loosening up and boosting your stretch. I found very quickly that by elevating my heels, I was able to add several inches to my stretch. This quick improvement that occurred literally in a several minute period was a huge boost and helped me get psyched about improving. With all goals, seeing measurable progress is one of the best motivators.

This short three minute workout would become a part of my warmup for the next week or two, and served as a great starting point to get me moving in the right direction.

So how did I really reach my goal in only four weeks?

Surprise, surprise – I stretched.

Every chance I could get, I worked on this stretch. At least a half-dozen times a day I would get up from my workstation, turn to face outwards in my cubical, and work on touching my toes.

For anyone unfamiliar with good stretching practice, here is what I would recommend:

  1. Take a deep breath, relax, and hang.
  2. Exhale on the way down.
  3. Hold for 5 seconds and then press gradually and try to get a little further.
  4. Hold for another 5 seconds.
  5. Bend your knees and then stand up.

Rinse, and repeat a few times each session. That is really all it took. Five times a day, five days a week for four weeks is 100 sets. Push yourself a little further each time. You only need to make a 1% improvement each session. If you are trying to add 6 inches to your stretch, you need to improve only slightly more than 1/20th of an inch per session.

For me the results were incredible. I achieved my objective. I went from just being able to touch my toes to getting my palms completely on the floor. Stretching on the floor, I can now more than just touch my toes, but get my hands entirely past my feet. No small improvement, and it took just a little diligence over a short period of time.

Give it a try, and tell me how you do.

Debunking the Revolver Myth (or Why Revolvers Suck)

Image by szuppo

There is a crowd in the armed citizen world that would have you believe that a revolver is the ideal weapon for home defense (or to put in your wife’s hands for home defense, or to carry, etc). They are wrong.

Here is a point by point breakdown of why a revolver is not the ideal gun for home defense, even for the lazy jerk who doesn’t want to invest training time.

Reliability

The majority of these revolver fans will tell you that their revolver doesn’t malfunction. This is mostly true. The only malfunction you can really expect in a revolver is a failure to fire. If this occurs the immediate remedy is to squeeze the trigger again and try the next round. Most revolver malfunctions are going to be blamed on the ammo and not the gun itself.

Most modern semi-auto pistols are plenty reliable. I’ve put thousands of rounds through my Glock 17 with very few malfunctions. Sure there have been malfunctions, but these are rare. If you maintain the gun properly, it won’t be likely to malfunction.

Simplicity

Revolvers are said to be simple. They have no external safety, so there is essentially a single input – the trigger. Aim and squeeze is all you need to do to shoot the target.

I’m sorry to break this to people, but my Glock 17 has a control interface that is just as simple. I too can aim and squeeze without the hindrance of disengaging a safety mechanism. If the lack of external safety is your reason to use a revolver, there are plenty of semi-auto pistols to fill that role as well.

Safety

Revolver proponents are often quick to judge semi-autos based on the risk of injury. It shouldn’t be news to anyone that firearms can be dangerous when used improperly. Revolvers come with their own caveats.

Both types of pistol can hurt you. Semi-autos used improperly can bite you as the slide reciprocates (a bad grip on the pistol where your hand comes too high on the back-strap of the pistol). This type of injury would be unpleasant, but it can be easily avoided with a little training. A revolver on the other hand can take off or seriously injure your thumb if it is placed too far forward next to the cylinder. Also correctable with training, but not as easily. Do you really want to worry about becoming thumbless under pressure? I don’t.

Capacity

Most revolver users will claim that a revolver has enough ammo to get the job done. Most defensive revolvers carry a maximum of seven rounds. What if seven isn’t enough? Do you feel confident that seven rounds could put down multiple attackers? Reloading a revolver requires much more skill than the semi-auto pistol. The motor skills required are also far finer since you need to either load each round or line up speed strips or a moon clip to reload it. When the adrenaline starts pumping, fine motor skills like this will be out the window.

If I want to reload my Glock, I slide a fresh magazine into the mag well and at the press of a button, I’m ready to keep shooting. Its a little more complex than that if you are worried about speed, but it is certainly easier than futzing with rounds in a cylinder under pressure.

Unfortunately, it seems that many revolver fans completely overlook the reloading issue. Maybe you won’t ever need more than those seven rounds, but are you willing to gamble this way with your life? Your family’s lives? Even sillier, if we assume that we will never need to reload, a semi-auto generally carries many more rounds than a revolver. My Glock for example carries 17+1, and with an extended magazine can carry as much as 33+1 rounds if home defense is my goal.

Ultimately revolvers are the lazy man’s answer. Too often people choose a revolver thinking they won’t need to invest as much time and energy into learning how to use it. You are kidding yourself if you think you can avoid putting in substantial time training with any firearm. If you honestly can’t find time to train, I still think a semi-auto offers tremendous advantages over a revolver, and has fewer problems than you may think. If you can’t invest the minimal time to learn the basics of your weapon, should you really be arming yourself at all? A weapon in the hands of an unpracticed individual is a threat to yourself and those you love.

Revolvers may sound like an easy option if you are looking for something you can simply point and shoot, but I think many of us in the self-defense community should have higher goals. I’ll take the capacity of a semi-auto over the purported reliability of a revolver any day.

Do you agree that semi-autos are superior to revolvers or are you a revolver fan?

Learn to Take a Hit

Image by KellBailey

In many martial arts, great time and effort is spent on body conditioning. Fighters in arts like Kyokushin condition their shins and sometimes forearms by rapping on them with bundles of chopsticks. They condition their legs by kicking each other, and learn to absorb body shots similarly by practicing taking punches and kicks.

These practitioners do not train to take hits instead of learning how to properly defend. It is usually better to avoid getting hit in the first place, but a wise student learns to accept that you will not always be fast enough to block something.

Fighters, especially full contact fighters (knockdown, MMA, etc) end up taking a lot of abuse during their fighting careers. A top level tournament fighter might have to fight 5 or more fights over a day or two in order to win his tournament. UFC fights are relatively long fights as well, with many long rounds. A great level of physical conditioning is required to be competitive.

What about those of us who don’t compete, but instead try to prepare for the fight that they hope never comes?

Should the student who prepares only for self-defense (and not competition) practice this way?

On the surface, no…

If you do not compete as a fighter, you aren’t likely to experience a long fight. Most self-defense encounters tend to be very violent, intense events but are also relatively short. I would not expect to be fighting for the 15 minutes or more that a professional MMA fight might take.

The average self-defense student is also unlikely to fight sequentially for days. He might fight multiple attackers, but not individually spread out over the course of a few hours.

Fighters also have other reasons to worry about conditioning. The purpose of most body conditioning is not necessarily to mitigate damage. Being hit can help build your body up and make it stronger against being hit in the future, but most conditioning helps serve to deaden nerves and make you impervious to the mental disruption that can come with being hit.

In any life or death encounter on the street, adrenaline will be a huge factor. You probably won’t feel most of the shots you take anyway. The first time I fought in a tournament in my youth I didn’t feel a single shot I took until about 30 minutes after the fight, at which point I couldn’t bend my leg and walking was… difficult. Conditioning has little effect on that first encounter.

The next time I fought, the first shot I took went right through me and I quickly realized something was different. Fighters condition because they won’t have the huge benefit of adrenaline at every fight. If you are jumped on the street, adrenaline is one advantage you can probably count on.

How to take a hit

If I’m too slow to get out of the way, I can position my body to mitigate the hit that I do take. Practicing getting hit means that when you are unable to block, you can at least take the hit on your terms. Generally this involves turning your body into the blow to brace yourself for the hit.

Face it, in a street fight you are going to get hit. If that is the case, shouldn’t we learn how to take the hit and not fold over like a cheap suit? Adrenaline can help you with pain and make you stronger, but it won’t keep the wind from getting knocked out of you. Learning how to properly exhale when being hit can.

While conditioning in itself might not make a huge difference, practicing how to get hit can. Your time is well spent learning how to properly take a punch or a kick. While conditioning can be useful as part of your routine, learning the best way to take a hit will give you much more bang for your buck.

Do you practice how to get hit?

Implicit vs Explicit Action

How would you describe the way you train? I would venture to guess that most people train implicitly and intend to act explicitly if the time ever comes. Let’s define what I mean by implicitly and explicitly.

Image by dagnyg

Implicit

im·plic·it

[im-plis-it] adjective

1. implied, rather than expressly stated: implicit agreement.

When I refer to implicit, I mean that things happen on their own. When we train implicitly, our bodies take over and our conscious mind gets to go for a ride. In training this leads to a sort of training coma where your body just goes through the motions.

For example do you ever go to the range and just start blasting away without a plan or specific goal in mind? Probably not for serious training purposes. But on the street we hope to make our actions implicit. What I mean here is that our training should take over. If we have correctly identified and improved on our weaknesses, our skills should be able to take the reins in a critical incident without relying on explicitly conscious efforts.

Explicit

ex·plic·it

[ik-splis-it] adjective

1. fully and clearly expressed or demonstrated; leaving nothing merely implied;

If we want our real-world reactions to be implicit, we should conduct ourselves explicitly when training By this I mean that every action, movement, and thought we carry out in training should be intentional. Anything we repeat in our training is going to ultimately become a habit. Therefore, our goal should be to make sure we produce only good habits in our training. Training hundreds of repetitions without thought into each rep is going to create bad habits that will be hard to break.

On the street, on the other hand, explicit action is decidedly slower and less efficient. Drawing a pistol, or reacting to a knife should be quick, decisive, and thoughtless. The only explicit actions you should be taking in a life or death scenario should be the decisions about things like taking the shot, or whether to draw your pistol in the first place.

I never want to draw a pistol simply because some trained stimulus set some series of actions in motion. I want to make a conscious, deliberate decision to draw. Once I have made that decision, however, my training should do the work of putting the tools to use.

Do you train explicitly or implicitly?

Why Precision In Training Language Matters

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Who uses training language? Teachers and instructors definitely use training language, but so do students. Those who teach or instruct are conducting a transfer of knowledge to their students. Generally this involves some training language whether they know it or not. Students ask questions, help each other, and take notes throughout classes. All of these exchanges on training subject matter will use training language to some degree.

Precision

Precision might not be the first word that comes to mind when you think about communication, but it accurately describes how anyone should converse in a learning environment. As you probably know, precision and accuracy refer to two separate concepts. Accuracy refers to your ability to hit, or closeness to the target. Precision on the other hand refers to how reliably you hit the same spot. You can be precise while not accurate. If I group all my shots far off the target I was not accurate, but I was precise. Accuracy and precision are different concepts, but having precision makes finding accuracy a lot easier.

Learning new concepts is much like marksmanship. In marksmanship we measure our success based on our group size and closeness to the target. When we have a precise group, we can adjust the sights to get accuracy. In our training on the other hand, it is a little harder to adjust. How does a student go from doing something precisely wrong to performance that is both precise and accurate? This is where precision in training language gives us an advantage. Precise language means we are better able to understand exactly what the student is talking about. When you understand where the students mind is going, it is much easier to correct them.

Inherent Meaning and Connotation

Another reason precise training language matters is that in most subjects words are carefully selected for their underlying connotation. Different words with the same meaning can carry different connotations, and ultimately the words we choose can help or hurt what we are trying to teach.

To use a simple marksmanship example, we can talk about slings. When you use a sling to improve your shooting with a rifle you can make the sling “tight” or you can make it “snug.” Both words convey the same basic meaning, but snug implies something different than tight. When someone hears that their sling should be “tight,” they are more likely to take this to an extreme that contorts their position and defeats the purpose of the lesson. “Snug” has a slightly different connotation that often results in more accurate employment of the sling. In this way, choosing one word over the other can make a big difference in the message conveyed.

Training is a complex world where many concepts overlap, and sometimes even contradict each other. When everyone uses precise and consistent language to describe things it helps prevent confusion.

Ease of Communication

If you look at flying, you will notice that a standard language is used: English. Standardization simplifies communication. Imagine putting 20 pilots and air traffic controllers into a room. If they all speak different languages you might get them to understand each other eventually, but it definitely slows down the process.

A similar concept applies in training. If you take only students who already speak English, and have them all use different terminology (training language) for everything, you will certainly slow down the flow of ideas. Where the flow hasn’t slowed, you’ll probably find assumptions and inaccuracies. You see this all the time in many martial arts systems where commands and techniques are always referred to in the language of the system’s origin. In my karate class for example, I always use the Japanese commands and terminology because it is the universal language of the system I teach.

Training language without precision on all sides of the discussion loses its value very quickly. If we aren’t going to refer to things by certain names, and use those names all of the time, we might as well not use names for anything. Precision in training language, on the other hand, accelerates learning. For those that instruct, remember that the words you use matter. Likewise, students should pay careful attention to the language used when receiving instruction, and make sure to implement the same terminology in your discussions with peers.

How do you use training language?

Training With Vehicles: Where To Start

 

Image by soldiersmediacenter

How much time do you spend training in and around vehicles? Except for the enlightened few, you probably haven’t given it much thought. If you don’t believe me that you should train in and around vehicles, check out this guest post I wrote for Low Tech Combat about Why You Need to Add Vehicles to Your Training

Skills to work on

If you want to fill the void in your training to be better prepared for dealing with vehicles there are a few skills you need to work on:

Driving skills – How to control your vehicle in both day to day driving and dealing with hazards. Defensive driving skills will help you avoid collisions and losing control.

Counter surveillance – Getting to your vehicle without being followed is an essential skill in a parking lot. The best way to avoid a fight around vehicles is to identify the threat beforehand and maneuver to a more favorable position.

Embus and debus – Getting into and out of your vehicle efficiently. When you are in a stationary vehicle you are in a disadvantaged position that should be avoided as much as possible. Learning how to deal with other people and vehicles as you get into and out of your own is also valuable.

Shooting into, out of, and around vehicles – You should be prepared to engage targets with your pistol from inside the vehicle, doing so without harming your passengers. Shooting through windshields can dramatically change your trajectory, and shooting over and around vehicles is more difficult than you think.

Close quarters fighting inside a vehicle – If you ever end up in a fight inside a car or truck you need to know how your grappling and clinching skills work inside the confines of that vehicle. Close quarters shooting skills are critical if you want to be able to fire multiple shots at your assailant without shooting yourself.

 Close quarters fighting outside a vehicle – When you get attacked in the triangle (the space created between an open car door and the door frame) you need to know how to handle it. This is a bad place to be in.

Where to get these skills

If you haven’t already started training these skills, you should either find a way to do so yourself or find someone you can learn from.

Training in and around vehicles is an important part of your self-defense palette.

One instructor I cannot recommend highly enough is Southnarc. His ECQC (Extreme Close Quarter Concepts) class briefly covers fighting in a vehicle. He calls the module of this class VBJJ or Vehicular Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. You learn not only how to make use of the vehicle while grappling with your adversary, but how to make use of weapons you might be carrying while preventing your opponent from using theirs.

Another great Southnarc class is his new VCAST (Vehicle Combatives and Shooting Tactics) class, which covers the vehicle material in even greater depth – just about everything short of tactical driving. I have taken both classes and highly recommend them both if you want to learn how to defend yourself in and around vehicles.

Between these two classes you have good coverage for just about any skill you might need inside or outside of a stationary vehicle. When it comes to a moving vehicle you are likely best served by finding a good defensive or tactical driving class. While learning how to do the fancy maneuvers like reverse 180s and the PIT look like a lot of fun, what most of us really need are a few lessons on collision avoidance, and maintaining and regaining control of a vehicle.

Defensive driving lessons on things like collision avoidance are easy to find, and relatively inexpensive. Many insurance carriers will even give you a break on your premiums for having taken one of these classes. Considering the amount of time we spend in vehicles, learning these techniques is a no-brainer.

If you live in a bubble and never ride in or encounter vehicles in your life, you can safely ignore training with them. The rest of us really need to spend some time training in and around vehicles.

Why I Train

Image by www.brickgun.com

When I was a young kid, my first inspiration for training was (believe it or not) watching the Power Rangers on TV. After watching this show, I went to my parents and told them quite firmly that I wanted to study Karate.

While I obviously grew out of my Power Rangers phase, I am still training 18 years later. Karate became a part of my life that is so cemented in my being that any attempt to extricate it from my life would probably kill me.

I have also always been a gun fanatic. I just didn’t always know it. By my parents’ recollection I used to turn just about anything I could find into a gun in my youth. If I didn’t have a toy gun to play with, I would often just build one out of Legos. It was never something I really thought about too heavily, but when I turned 21 my affair with firearms would really begin.

Curiosity quickly gave way to obsession. Unlike the average gun enthusiast, I’m not purely about having a metric ton of cool guns and gear (although I do have a soft-spot for black rifles). I like having a collection of cool toys as much as the next guy, but more than that, I find myself ever drawn to training with them. The best times I have spent with firearms have been in classes, particularly in the classes with the lowest round counts.

My first course was Southnarc’s ECQC. We trained pre-fight verbal skills, clinch work, in-fight weapons access, wrestling in vehicles, and only one afternoon on the range. I probably shot 150 rounds in a three day course, and I had a ball. Training for some reason draws me like a high powered magnet. I can’t resist.

Why do I train? I don’t serve in a career that puts me in harm’s way. I’m a software engineer, not a soldier or cop. I don’t live in a high risk area either. I’m very unlikely to ever need the skills that I put so much time into practicing, though one never knows. It is better to have the ability to protect yourself and not need it than to need this ability and not have it.

I think that the desire to train can also be thought of in a historical context. Throughout the ages, mankind has sought out and studied warfare. At first the art of war was necessary and war was almost continuous. As time went on, individuals still chose to study and train, but it wasn’t necessarily because they expected to use these skills. Instead these capabilities gave people the ability to choose their own fate.

If you look at just about any period in history, the well armed and well practiced individuals were the only ones who could reliably lay claim to their own freedom.

I train not because I have to, but instead because I want to. I enjoy training, the sweat, the exhilaration of deflecting and returning blows, the smell of gunpowder in the morning.

Ultimately I train because it is a constant journey. You cannot reach perfection in the fighting arts. It is just not possible. I train because no matter how hard I work and study, there is always something more to learn. My training may have reached a point of diminishing returns, but it is a noble pursuit.

Why do you train?

Machismo And Its Devastating Effects

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It is not uncommon to see a theme of machismo among just about anyone who trains for or claims to be prepared for their own self-defense. Martial artists, shooters, and just about everyone in between carry themselves with this sense of manliness.

Machismo 

noun

1. astrong or exaggeratedsense of manliness; an assumptive attitude that virility, courage, strength, and entitlement to dominate are attributes or concomitants of masculinity.

Take a look at the definition, “a strong or exaggerated sense of manliness”. Too often we see ‘tough guys’ use their desire to appear manly as an excuse for making poor decisions. This is an excuse to be stupid – an excuse to do stupid things or react in stupid ways. The short sightedness of anyone trying to maintain their level of machismo brings to mind a steroid-inspired cartoon caricature.

What I mean by this is that these macho dudes often draw quick conclusions and belittle those who make different (and often more logical) choices in order to protect and maintain their own manliness.

A perfect example of this is yoga. How many men do you see taking a yoga class? And quite frankly following the stereotype, how many of the men that do take yoga classes appear to be ‘real men’ and not a bunch of hippies or something? This is surprising because yoga has such great benefits from a flexibility and static strength standpoint.

Anyone who trains in the martial arts would garner great benefits from studying yoga and attending classes. It would improve their flexibility, mitigating injuries, and improve everything that requires flexibility. Unfortunately, you probably won’t see a macho guy take a class like yoga unless dragged in by his wife because he’s afraid his man card might be taken away.

The same concept is what stirs all of the .45 vs 9mm debate. Perhaps this whole argument is simply the result of erectile dysfunction, but so many tough guys on the internet will argue incessantly that anything smaller than a .45 is useless. Anyone who is enlightened on the matter realizes the difference between modern .45 and 9mm ammunition is so minimal that the increased capacity and lower recoil put the 9mm on at least equal footing with a .45.

Again you will see plenty of ‘tough guys’ afraid to carry a 9mm because they don’t want to be seen as sissies. Machismo drives a lot of decisions in the self-defense world, and quite frankly it’s to the detriment of not only the individuals that have this sense of machismo, but to the community as a whole.

Machismo also drives most debates on the internet. These macho guys try to assert that they would never retreat in a gunfight. They would never let the police search their home because clearly they can search their home completely on their own. They shoot to kill, take no prisoners, open carry huge guns, and belittle anyone who doesn’t do the same.

This same short sightedness causes the media and the general public to look at gun owners or self-defense advocates as a little crazy. Many rational people that might like to learn about firearms or self-defense are turned off by the machismo factor, or prefer not to associate with such arrogant fools steeped in testosterone.

If you are one of these macho people, get over yourself. Stop letting your machismo drive your decisions, and use your brain instead. No one is going to take away your man card for going to a yoga class or carrying a 9mm. But they will if you don’t have the balls to try being levelheaded or branch out. Suck it up cupcake.

Do you agree about the prevalence of machismo? Or are you one of these ‘tough guys’? Tell me what you think in the comment section below.

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