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Mindset: Foundation for Everything

The chart below was in an e-mail I received from Dry Fire Training Cards[1] the other day. I have seen it before but, because of a conversation I had last Saturday, I looked at it a bit differently.

I had just finished teaching a Munio© seminar and one of the participants came up to me and said, “Can I talk to you for a second?” “Sure” I said.

What she told me gave me pause. She said: “I took a self-defense class when I was younger (18 years old), and I thought I was well prepared. But then I was attacked. The guy grabbed me and threw me down and was on top of me with his hands around my throat. I knew what to do – scratch his face, thumbs in his eyes and all that. But I couldn’t bring myself to do any of that. I felt powerless. Why?”

My reply was, “You’re not alone. Lots of people take a class and get all pumped up and truly believe they are prepared to defend themselves. Sadly, they are not.”

Surprisingly, this is not the first such conversation like this I have had. Over the years I have probably heard this same story 10 times – from men and women.

Most instructors can teach you some reasonably effective self-defense tactics or techniques or advise you as to some piece of equipment to buy. They can also teach basic movement and teach you to “Get off the X”. They may also discuss the levels of awareness. But few will diligently discuss mindset. They may say you need to have a ‘combat’ or ‘warrior’ mindset but never really define what it is.

Rather than get into a long diatribe of some esoteric philosophical aspects about developing a warrior mindset, I’ll offer what I believe to be some sound tactical and practical advice instead. These tenets are based on over 50 years of participating in the martial arts and shooting and have helped me and hundreds of students over the years develop a combat mindset.

“Take What is Offered” – VCA (Violent Criminal Actors) will always offer a target to you. It may not be the best, but it will be there. A leading leg, an eye, an elbow, tender under the arm meat. Whatever is available should be your target. Don’t go ‘hunting’ for that ‘perfect shot’. HVT (High Value Targets) may not always be available.

“Simple is Better, Especially When Under Stress” – Under the stress of a potentially lethal attack, is no time to be trying to figure out complicated defensive moves. Simple, straightforward, effective techniques, generally based on natural movements, is what is needed.

“Fitness Counts” – This one is pretty easy. The stronger and more fit you are, the better chance you will have in a critical situation. Being fit also lifts your mental image of yourself and gives you more confidence. As strength training coach Mark Rippetoe says, " Strong people are harder to kill than weak people..."

“Practice What You Suck At” – Of course, you will find some techniques you are better at than others. That’s OK. Put them in your arsenal. But it is best to have more than one technique - what if you can’t use it? Better have a backup.

“Always Counter-Strike in Combinations; No Single Techniques” – In a self-defense situation, more is generally better. Don’t count on ‘one shot stops’ whether it’s with an empty-hand strike or a handgun. The human body is tremendously resilient and can take a LOT of punishment before it quits. Try to target HVT with multiple strikes. Remember two is one and one is none.

I think the development of a ‘combat/warrior’ mindset is more about physical, disciplined training than meditating or some obscure mental exercises. While visualization and some other mental drills can be extremely beneficial, you still must put in the sweat equity.

There are more tenets that can help with developing the ‘combat/warrior’ mindset, but we’ll save them for another post.



Self Defense Pyramid
Pyramid of Self Defense


The Director's Desk

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