Archives for March 2012

Train in All Wardrobes

When you train for self-defense, the goal is to be ready to defend yourself whenever or wherever you may need to. Part of ensuring this preparedness is to train in the entire variety of clothing that you may wear. Drawing a pistol while wearing a vest for concealment is far different than drawing from underneath a t-shirt. Still harder is drawing from underneath a variety of winter layers. Unless you live somewhere warm and tropical you will probably be wearing multiple layers at some point during the year.

Image by frankh

Adapt

Self-defense is all about adapting. In this case you need to either adapt your training to work with what you wear, or adapt what you wear to meet the criteria of what you train for. If option two is available for you, take it. The narrower your set of wardrobe choices, the easier it will be to train for each possible scenario.

The rest of us need to be just as prepared for the day we wear a t-shirt as we are for the day we conceal in a tuckable holster in a suit. Take some time to practice at least occasionally in all modes of dress that you use.

Go to the range in a suit, you say?

I would rather not dirty my best suit at the range, so the way I achieve this type of practice is through dry-fire. Each day I take some time to dry-fire wearing whatever clothing I happened to wear that day. If it is a weekend, I’ll be drawing from beneath a t-shirt or a sweatshirt. During the week it might be a polo or a button down shirt. If I want to practice drawing from a suit I might need to set aside a special day to do so – I don’t wear suits very often.

Not just pistol training

The same training concept applies to more than just training to use a firearm for self-defense. You should practice any self-defense skill in the type of clothing you typically wear. Many martial artists spend their time training in various dogi and other uniforms. These uniforms are usually designed for maximum mobility. Compare this to most business wear and you’ll find many differences. Most business attire will hamper mobility to some extent, so it is a good idea to consider your limitations if you need to defend yourself while going about your day. You aren’t very likely to be caught in a life or death situation while wearing a dogi.

Training occasionally in your street clothes can be enlightening. You will find that different articles of clothing all have different effects on your mobility. It is better to know you can’t throw that kick or punch now while you are training than to discover it at the worst possible moment.

Wardrobe choice is just another aspect of train like you fight, fight like you train. In order to be truly prepared for self-defense, we must identify the scenarios we are most likely to encounter and practice accordingly. Our clothing is a big factor to consider when envisioning these possibilities. Make sure you understand your limitations in all modes of dress – and then figure out how to minimize them.

How Far Do You Take Your Training?

Picture by soldiersmediacenter

If you want to survive a life or death encounter with an assailant, you need to invest some time training. How far you take that training will depend on a variety of factors, but ultimately it is up to you. Everyone has different requirements for what their training must prepare them for. And we all have different amounts of time, resources, and even physical ability to train.

Here are some factors that impact those decisions.

Risk

When I discuss risk in reference to training I am describing the risk of a threat of physical harm to your person (or the persons you may protect). Obviously a soldier or police officer will encounter far more risk day in and day out than I will on my daily commute to and from work. As a result, if risk were to be the sole basis for deciding how far to take your training, then clearly our soldiers and police officers have a greater need to take their training to a higher level.

Time

Time is another factor that distinguishes how we must train. The busy individual who works late and has many activities on their plate might not have the time to train as hard or as often as someone with a huge amount of free time. Some of us train for enjoyment as much as to be better prepared, so investing time in our training will not be as painful as it may be for the person who trains only to mitigate their risks.

Resources

Whether it is taking martial arts classes, heading to the range, or attending a class or seminar, training requires resources. To train we often need equipment or instruction, and that usually comes with a price tag. We can’t all financially afford to spend thousands of dollars a year to invest in our training. If you enjoy training, you’ll be far more likely to invest in classes and equipment. If you train because you need to or purely to mitigate risk, you might be less apt to spend so much.

Fitness

Some of us physically can’t train as hard as others. I wouldn’t expect a 70-something year old grandmother to be be taking a carbine class and running around with her rifle. Some people have physical disabilities and still others are just out of shape. All of these factors can dampen the level to which we take our training. One exception that should not limit your training is fitness. If you are out of shape and enjoy being out of shape that might affect your training; otherwise it’s a matter of effort to fix that condition.

Interest

Finally, where you take your training is directly related to how interested you are. I’ve touched on this before, but ultimately all of these other factors can be almost ignored if you have the interest to train. There is no reason not to push yourself to a higher standard and to train more if it is something you enjoy. Sure you might hit the point of diminishing returns, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a worthy use of your time.

Not everyone can become a Delta Operator. Your level of training may be limited, but ultimately you decide how far you want to go. Identifying the reasons you want to train can help you decide what your goals will be and how to achieve them.

Why do you train and how does that affect your level of training?

Pistolcraft – The New Way of Strategy?

Miyamoto Musashi was a great swordsman who lived in the late 1500’s into the early 1600’s. He excelled in the use of the sword, but also as a tactician. As a practitioner of swordsmanship, Musashi like many other swordsmen was considered a strategist. And more so than studying the sword, these men practiced the way of strategy.

Picture by MShades

For them the sword was a tool. They needed to have the raw skills to manipulate that tool, but it was just one part of the big picture. Over the course of his life, Musashi defeated many men in duels. He has been credited with defeating a large group of warriors sent to kill him, and he ultimately lived his life undefeated. Musashi didn’t win all of these encounters purely based on his raw technique being better than his adversary; instead, he was a master of strategy.

During this time period it was common for the members of the warrior caste to carry with them their swords at all times. These strategists were always armed, and always ready for whatever threat might lay before them.

Translating the Sword to the Pistol

If you fast forward to today, it is uncommon to see anyone carrying a sword. The sword is in many ways a classic weapon, but not one that is considered part of the modern stable of fighting weapons.

In its time the sword was the weapon of choice for the armed citizen. Today the weapon of choice for the armed citizen is the pistol. We carry pistols to protect ourselves in the same way that the sword was carried in feudal Japan. The pistol has replaced the sword as the preferred implement of combat.

You could break the study of Musashi’s way of strategy into two parts: the study of the sword and its techniques and the study of the strategic and tactical use of the sword. We could similarly break down the study of pistol strategy.

Pistol as the New Way of Strategy

As with the sword, we can spend an eternity perfecting the use of the pistol. Marksmanship takes dedicated effort to master. Drawing the pistol and getting on target, recoil management, reloads, malfunction clearance, and retention merely scratch the surface of all of the skills that come along with studying the pistol.

Learning how to manipulate the sword does not make you a strategist, and neither does learning how to manipulate the pistol. To be tactically sound with the pistol there are a variety of skills and tactics that need to be mastered. Moving through structures and making best use of your environment to maximize cover and concealment both immediately come to mind.

The modern strategist goes above and beyond simply studying and perfecting the manipulations of a weapon. He learns to use that tool as part of a broader strategy. Raw skills are worth the investment of time and effort, but without strategy they will always remain just skills.

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