I’m not talking about training. I’m talking about studying: reading books, learning the concepts of self-defense, and reviewing things like anatomy, psychology, and the verbal skills needed to defuse a situation.
Self-defense is not just about shooting your way out of trouble. In fact, I would much prefer that you walk away from trouble before it starts—run away from trouble if you have the chance or talk your way out of trouble if you can.
If things go as far as a fight, well, that’s a problem. It is of course a problem you need to solve and a situation in which you need to prevail, but I would still call participation in a gunfight something of a failure. Sure, there may be times when you simply can’t avoid it, but by and large, I am hoping your knowledge of situational awareness, your skills at conflict avoidance, and your understanding of your options will keep you out of trouble.
To build up that side of your personal protection plan, you need to do some studying. There are great resources available all over the place. One of the best is the book The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. This book talks about the importance of understanding and accepting your body’s physical reactions to fear. In short, you know when you are in danger because your body tells you so. If you pay attention to those clues, you have more time to prepare and possibly avoid that danger.
Massad Ayoob has written plenty of great books but the one that pushed him to national prominence is In the Gravest Extreme. These lines from the introduction sum up the book very well: “This book makes no attempt to convince the private citizen to acquire or carry firearms. It speaks to those who have already made the decision to do so, and endeavors only to advise them in the legal, ethical, and practical use of the deadly weapons they already own.”
While some of the information in the book is older (In The Gravest Extreme was written before the invention of the Glock pistol or the .40 S&W), the concepts of conflict avoidance and situational awareness are timeless.
If you haven’t taken at least a passing interest in human anatomy, how will you know the best places to shoot, cut, or strike your opponent? You can pick up a wall chart of human anatomy for less than $20 online. That will let you know exactly where on the human body you can find the important areas like the heart and lungs, the pelvic girdle, and other such important target areas. Many of the training targets sold today encourage you to shoot people in the wrong place. Your goal is to stop the threat as quickly as possible. Belly shots will not do that.
There is a reason why people use the term “the study of self-defense.” This is not a one-day proposition. Skills are perishable and new ideas are put forth all the time. I’m not expecting you to become laser-focused on only one element of your life, but I am asking you to devote just a little bit more time to your study of self-defense. This is serious business. Confidence comes through preparation.
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