Why not both?

Greg Ellifritz posted this meme to Facebook:

As expected, comments and sharing ensued.

Via another avenue, I learned about a share of Greg’s posting with sharer commentary. The sharer’s commentary said this was bullshit, that you don’t need to have physical fitness, beards, tattoos – you just need a determined mindset (and even better if it’s determination backed up by a gun). Of course the commenting on that went off the rails too.

While pictorial memes can be fun(ny) and useful, their problem is they cannot convey depth. They’re the modern equivalent of a sound bite. Remember what George Carlin said about that:

And so, on television news there is, oddly, very little emphasis on the present; on today’s actual news. The present exists only in thirty-second stories built around eight-second sound bites. Remember, “sound bite” is their phrase. that’s what they give you. Just a bite. No chewing, no digestion, no nourishment. Malnutrition.

Because here’s the thing: there’s a kernel of truth in what both people are saying. Reality is more nuanced than a meme or a share-rant can provide.

Let’s start with the original meme. The premise is to help in the decision to take tactical training. The creator/poster of the meme believes there are prerequisites to tactical training, such as having a reasonable level of physical fitness, and that maybe this isn’t the first time you’ve gotten punched in the face. On the points, the author isn’t necessarily wrong.

So you want tactical training, so you carry a gun – why? Ostensibly because you want to save lives, to preserve life, etc.. If such is the case, then physical fitness will do more for you. The reality is violent crime and other situations whose answer is “using a gun” are few and far between – they are rare events. Death from heart attacks? obesity, and obesity-related matters? Quite common. You are more likely to die because of that extra 100 lb. you’re hauling around than from a violent crime. So you better believe that physical fitness will do more for your life in general. If you care about protecting life so much, start with your own personal health.

I see it in classes all the time. People who cannot keep up with even a small bit of physical exertion. I mean, our classes at KR Training may not all be the most physically demanding, but there is a lot of walking that goes on. You will be on your feet all day. You will be in the hot Texas sun all day. It WILL take a physical toll on you. And if you bomb out of the day for those reasons, then it was a lot of your time and money wasted. That $400 for a weekend class may be better spent on an annual gym membership.

But do you need to be able to run a marathon? Do you need to be able to squat 600 lb? Do you need to have 5% bodyfat? in order to take a training class? Probably not, tho that would vary depending upon the class (an Intro to Marksmanship class vs. a Shivworks ECQC do have rather different requirements). So to need to be “physically fit” is certainly relative. As well, should we deny a frail elderly person, or someone with physical handicaps/limitations (including simply being obese) from being able to receive training in self-defense? Nope. But of course, there may be limitations in terms of the training one can receive.

So the original meme has a kernel of truth, but reality isn’t as plain as the meme tries to make it. The sharer’s calling of “bullshit” on the meme has some ground.

And on the sharer’s side they speak of the importance of a determined mindset. There’s no question that is important. We hear the countless stories of people receiving superficial (and totally survivable) wounds and falling over dead because they gave up. Then other people who are put through literal hell, but are so determined to fight and win they do and live to regale us with their battle stories. Determined mindset cannot be discounted, and we all work to teach and imbue that in our students.

What’s interesting is the sharer gave examples like “what do they teach in Army Basic Training”, and allusions to military groups of yore. That those groups are just all about determined mindset. But you know what all those groups received?

Tactical Training.

And you know what’s part of that training? Physical fitness. By pleasant coincidence John M. Buol, Jr. just posted the 2018 Army Combat Readiness Test. How do YOU score on that test? If the US Army thinks physical fitness is an important part of combat readiness – that’s what we call a clue, that physical fitness is an important component and possible prerequisite.

So maybe the original meme has some ground too.

I know we now live in a world of absolutes. Where what I say and believe is right, and what you say and believe is wrong. Where Truth only exists in meme or Tweet-able form, and anything “tl;dr” (like this article) is… well… too long and no one’s going to read it. But no matter how you believe reality to be – reality is what it is, regardless of your belief. And often that reality isn’t as simple nor as black-and-white as you wish to make it. Instead of trying to be right, work to seek Truth. Work to see the other’s point of view, because maybe there is a sliver of merit. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

5 thoughts on “Why not both?

  1. I am still deeply puzzled by the conflation of two things. Many of us do not carry a gun to “prolong life,” mostly because carrying a gun will not add a single day to your allotted lifetime. What it will do – when coupled with skill and mindset and all of the other things that go with that – is allow you to stop somebody else from taking your life.

    Put another way. I fully intend to die doing what I love to do. Whether that might be riding motorcycles, jumping out of airplanes, running marathons… or just really, really, really enjoying good food and sedentary behavior, does not change this ideal. It is my life and I intend to spend it ( use it up and wear it out) in ways that I enjoy.

    I also fully intend to do whatever it takes to stop anybody else from taking my life. My life is mine, not theirs. My life is mine to spend up, not theirs.

    How much effort and my willing to put into stopping other people from taking my life? For most people the answer boils down to, exactly as much effort as they enjoy spending. Because when it gets right down to it, each life belongs to the person who lives it.

    That is why memes like this are bullshit. It is because they conflate two completely unrelated ideas. And they give people an excuse to not get the training that could otherwise help them avoid accidentally shooting people they love.

    • This is a wholly different perspective, and a worthwhile one.

      I do think thinking like this could keep people away from important training, especially since a lot of important training doesn’t require high levels of physical fitness nor having been punched in the face. It could be said that this is merely the meme-creator projecting their notions and ideals, and not thinking about the world beyond their personal sphere.

      I recall a conversation you and I had about a time you were teaching in Alaska (or maybe you were speaking to someone from Alaska – my memory fails me here). You mentioned how different their strategies were towards concealed carry because of the extreme cold. I recall seeing some product that was like a heavy coat with a “quick draw/retrieval” type pocket. I saw so many people poo-pooing it as stupid. And granted, for some it might be — I know here in Texas it wouldn’t sell very well. But I thought back to our conversation and thought that for someone in that situation, it could be a great product – and I don’t have the ability to evaluate it on those merits. But hey – it’s the internet, so we must register our opinion on everything! 🙂

      And it’s also while I find memes funny and sometimes useful, they just lose so much – because reality is more complex and more nuanced.

      (thanx for posting – always enjoyable to talk with you).

  2. Hsoi,

    Have to tell you how much I enjoy your calm, thoughtful, and nuanced approached. Thanks for making my day a bit brighter!

  3. Pingback: Weekend Knowledge Dump- October 27, 2017 | Active Response Training

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