If you read my blog you may have noticed that I don’t write as much as I used to, but I sure lift weights at the gym a lot. 🙂
I lift because it’s the form of exercise I enjoy the most. Why do I exercise? Lots of reasons, but my main motivator is I don’t want to become decrepit.
Look around you. Look at how people struggle to do basic things like walking up and down stairs, getting in and out of a chair, or picking something up off the ground. There’s no need to start talking about things like running when people struggle to do even basic life functions.
Ever watch videos of self-defense events? They are rapid, dynamic, and to some extent or other involve physicality. Sometimes that physicality could be a brawl, or sometimes it’s just a need to run like a bat out of hell in the other direction.
If you struggle to get out of a chair, if you get winded walking up stairs (or you know you will so you avoid it and always take the elevator), if you can’t bend over to tie your shoes (or you say “fuck it” and always wear flip-flops) – how do you think you’re going to fare when the flag flies?
You don’t even have to be old or fat. Does your job involve you sitting in an office chair crumpled down in front of a computer all day? Cliché as it is, but there is truth to “use it or lose it”, and desk jockeys (and I’m one of them) are losing it.
I see it with students in classes. Shoot the gun, reload and drop magazine on the ground, then it’s a struggle to bend down to pick up the magazine off the ground. And yes, maybe your self-defense incident may be solvable purely by your gun and your wits, but when do you get to choose what your self-defense incident will look like?
This isn’t to say you have to bench press 300 lb., be able to run a 5 minute mile, and be as sexy as Dwayne Johnson. It just means you need to be able to function.
Speaking from personal experience, another useful reason for having some level of fitness is it improves your ability to deal with the physiological effects of the event and the aftermath. Given all I experienced both during and afterwards, I firmly believe a high-level of physical fitness helped me manage the intense stress. Heck, I lost 6 lbs. that day! My event in and of itself was not physical (wasn’t some brawl), but rare in one’s life is such a degree of stress and pressure, and being able to have a physically strong heart and body was unquestionably a benefit.
Or we can just look at it in a simpler way.
Your chances of being killed in a terrorist attack? Supposedly 1 in 20,000,000
Your chances of dying from a firearm? Supposedly 1 in 25,000
Your chances of dying in a car accident? Supposedly 1 in 100
Your chances from heart disease? Supposedly 1 in 400.
Of having a heart attack? 1 in 4.
Regardless of the specific numbers (data varies by source), the pattern remains: you have a far greater chance of death from poor health choices than violent crime.
If self-defense is all about protecting and preserving your life, then self-defense starts with taking care of yourself.
This doesn’t mean you need to stop reading this article, radically change your diet, join CrossFit, and do things that you won’t stick with 2 weeks from now. No, small things can make a big difference.
Season 4 Episode 183 of Ballistic Radio had Larry Lindenman as the guest. Larry spoke quite well about the role of fitness in self-defense, and provides an excellent overview of the topic as well as some good suggestions on how to get started. I was listening to it while doing my cardio at the gym the other morning, and it served as the impetus for this article. Thank you Larry (and John Johnston).
Take care of yourself first, so you’ll be around to take care of others.