Fit to fight…or do other stuff

I mentioned earlier on my Facebook fan page that now that I’m back from training, I’m in the best shape of my adult life, including my teens. Or, as a comment on yesterday’s post put it, “reborn hard.” That’s true. To put it in perspective, when I left I was doing about 40 pushups in a minute, 30ish situps, and running a mile and a half in 12 and change. Now I’m doing 60+ of pushups and situps, and running my 1.5 in 10 flat.

fit to fight collage

There are other metrics, like weight loss and percent body fat, I’ve dropped about 35 pounds and I’m under 11% body fat. These are good things because they mean I’ll likely live longer and whatnot. However, what I want to talk about today is how they affect my ability to defend myself as a civilian. Because I’ve talked about fitness a lot in the past and how it’s important, but instead of just beating ya’ll up and saying “get in shape fatty mcfatterton” I want to talk about what being in good shape gives me.

It gives me options, and options are a good thing. Depending on the situation, I have the option available to simply flee, which is always pretty awesome from a civilian standpoint; you win every gunfight that never happens. Or, if I’m not carrying a gun for whatever reason, I have some training in going hands on; I’m not BJJ warrior but I’ve got a couple of good strikes and I can thrown down an Americana pretty well. I don’t really want to go hands on with people (that’s why I carry a gun) but it’s a good skill to have. Options are good. Of course, there’s always the deadly force option if I am carrying a gun.

As your fitness level decreases, your options go away. That’s not necessarily a condemnation, because a 65 year old woman with a dickey hip isn’t going to have the same self-defense options as a 25 year old triathlete. However, if you’re 33 and your only option is to basically go straight to deadly force because you can’t run 400 meters without dying and you lack the physical strength to create distance by pushing an attacker off, then you’ve put yourself in the relatively unfortunate situation of having to shoot someone who maybe didn’t need to catch a bullet. This goes even further back to something Tam was talking about last month, namely how to manage unknown contacts. That’s all about creating options, because unless you’re a psycho, you don’t actually WANT to shoot someone.

I don’t want this post to be another “get in shape blah blah” because people don’t listen to those. It tends to just fly in one ear and out the other. What I want is for people to take a hard look at your self-defense options. Are you limited to going straight to deadly force? If so, ask yourself “why?” If you are limited, and it’s because there are holes in your training and skill set, good news! You can fix that. If the holes are in your physicality and abilities, you can fix that too, but it’s a lot harder.

I learned a lot about blind spots in my self-defense strategy over the past six months. My ground game needs a ton of work, and so does my intermediate/striking distance game. It’s important that we recognize weak spots in our skill set; especially if you’re serious about self defense or do this kind of stuff for a living.


  1. Sounds like you’re training mma. Before my spinal surgery that ended my mma obsession, I put in about 3-4 hours every other day, and weights on my off day except Sunday which was pure rest and eating. I never felt better in my whole life. It also allowed me to rapidly dismantle a few seriously bad dudes who were much much larger than me (biggest ever was 6’6″ and I am 5’6″) I was also able to defeat two attackers at once one who was slicing my friends up with a knife, nearly killing my buddy home on leave from the army, and one who was bludgeoning people with bottles. I didn’t have my gun with me either time because there was booze involved. Thank God I trained like an animal and was strong as an ox. If I had to rely on my gun, I MIGHT have had a legal chance with the last two, after breaking my finances, but certainly not Goliath, who probably would have beaten my grind to death had I not intervened. Good on you for making every part of you your Arsenal; I sure do miss it. Oh and by the time I had those fights I had about 2100 hours of MMA Training and fights, so I knew I had more than a chance, save for the guy with the knife.
    I find the premise of your post to be spot-on and I wish more people saw things that way.

  2. Now that the whole Carry Optics thing is in full swing, I hope to get some thoughts from you.

  3. I’ve asked this before, but – aside from the general fitness improvements most of us are pursuing – what are the best exercises you’ve found specific to gun management requirements? What I’m thinking of is better recoil control and target aquisition, balance and movement improvements, position control (barricade, prone, low and awkward ports, etc.).

    1. Anything that makes you stronger and faster, honestly. I used to think that there were “better” exercises for targeting shooting performance, but if I can bench 300, deadlift 450 and run a mile in 6 minutes I’m probably going to be able to beast any physical challenge related to shooting.

  4. Ian, did you know the places you were going w/o a gun were the sort of places where the evening progresses to knives and bottles regularly, or was it a complete surprise? Reason I ask, if you knew it was more than unlikely to get sideways, why go there?

    Nearly every time I read about a shooting or stabbing at a bar, its at closing time, and I’m not at all surprised where it happened, because that’s the expected behavior in that joint.

    It’s great to be in great shape if you have to get down with someone, but isn’t it better to not be there when sh!t goes down in the first place?

    Glad you’re back, Caleb. The site was pretty moribund without you.

  5. What were your pre- and post- numbers and what training plan produced the results. Glad you’re back.

    1. Here are my vitals for before I left: Weight, 180, %BF was 20%, my best 1.5 mile was 12:30, 1 min pushups was 45 and situps were 34.

      Now I’m 145, 11%, 10:00 flat, and 60+ in a minute on push-ups and sit ups. Next goal, stay at this weight and push 185 on bench, squat 225, 135 on OHP, and deadlift at least 275.

      As far as my training plan, when I was in training at Lackland I just did the AF PT sessions when they had them (which wasn’t often) really managed my diet carefully, and then when I didn’t have PT I’d either run at least 2.5 miles, do sprints, or use the SimpleFit program to improve my body weight exercises. I did A LOT of pushups over the summer.

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