Years ago, when I first began martial arts training, I read a book called Living the Martial Way, by Forrest Morgan. Even though the martial arts featured in the book were not of my liking and have lost considerable popularity in today’s mixed martial arts world, Morgan still laid the foundation for the way I approach my own practice. On how to develop that warrior mindset if you will. It differentiated between those that view martial arts as just another hobby they do on Tuesday, while perhaps Monday and Wednesday might be bowling nights and those that devote their lives to the warrior lifestyle. The larger point of the book was that every day should be devoted to some type of training that hones and sharpens your skills and mindset.
As time went on, I gradually came to realize that any serious dedication to self-defense training would have to involve firearms, so I pursued that as well. This opened the door to the realities of fighting more than anything else. For years I lived in the false securities of practicing pretty flow drills and compliance techniques. I trained Jeet Kune Do and Filipino Kali with vigor and it was not until I explored weapon retention from the conceal carry perspective that I realized the training methods I was using would not save my life. I had spent years practicing knife and stick disarms and trapping techniques, all in the context of flow drills that are practiced to “develop skill in real-time movement.” All it took was a skilled grappler to demonstrate how flawed my thinking was. I am not saying there is not any usefulness in Filipino Kali or Jeet Kune Do techniques, I have just learned to apply them to more realistic training methods. Grappling for control of a weapon will certainly change your perspective on things.
Where am I going with this? America is experiencing a surge, to the delight of many no less, in first-time gun owners. In response to Covid-19 and the out of control riots, concerned Americans are exercising their constitutional freedoms and buying guns in droves for the first time. This is great news on one hand, and a little concerning on the other. Don’t get me wrong, all Americans have the unalienable right to self-defense. How many of them realize the realities of fighting with a weapon? How many of them are taking the time to get training?
In an article entitled The sociology of U.S. gun culture, David Yamane notes the differences between our current gun culture and the one of fifty years ago. Firearms training was once sought after primarily in hunter’s safety classes, and leisure gun activities involved target practice and skeet shooting. There was a not a culture of concealed carry that revolved around the idea of training strictly for the purpose of stopping an attacker. That is the primary mindset of those engaged in gun culture today, the use of firearms in self-defense situations. This makes some people nervous and leads some to believe there should be licensing requirements to prove you have received an adequate amount of training. I will never be one to advocate that government require permitting, I will however say ̶ ̶ if you are not willing to live the warrior lifestyle you should reconsider your choice to carry a firearm.
Carrying a gun is more of a responsibility than a right, in my opinion. As noted earlier, all Americans have an inalienable right to the defense of their life. And once they make the decision to exercise that right, they have the responsibility to ensure they are proficient in handling their firearm. Proficiency requires constant training, not just a basic pistol 101 class. Living the “martial way” in our current climate requires that developing your skills becomes like a second job. Physical fitness, the ability to shoot under pressure, situational awareness and ethical wherewithal about different situations and the proper use of force, are all important considerations when carrying a gun. I am not suggesting that everyone has the responsibility to devote precious time to martial arts training ̶ ̶ but if you are carrying a gun, you should at least seek out instruction in how to retain it in close combat. Retention is also an implied responsibility of carrying.
Consider the attack that took place in a Wal-Mart the other day. There was nothing out of the ordinary. Wal-Mart is a comfortable, familiar place where everyone generally feels safe. A young, mentally distraught boy picked up a butcher knife that was on display and murdered someone in cold blood. Nothing could have prevented this. The most trained among us would have been taken by surprise in such a situation if not paying attention. We can all convince ourselves that we would have reacted properly to such an attack by what iffing it to death, but we do not know. I will say that after twenty years of training knife, this is a scenario I hope I never have to face. This is where we as warriors, must admit the flaws in our thinking and ask if we are really prepared for such a thing. Is standing in an air-conditioned, indoor range shooting at a target ten feet away really preparing you for the psychological vigor of fighting? Are you one of those people that have simply taken an intro to handgun course and figure you’re good because you have a gun?
To develop the warrior mindset, to truly live the “martial way,” training must become a lifestyle. Even if it is only for ten to twenty minutes a day. Some of us, including yours truly, can not afford to shoot live ammo every day. Once a week, combined with physical fitness, and dry fire training is good. I devote two days to fitness, four days a week to martial arts training and every Sunday I work on my conceal carry tactics at the range. Throughout the week, after my workouts, I practice drawing and dry fire. If you are at the level where you are comfortable shooting on your own, get that heart rate up by doing pushups or sprints before each round of live fire and look at the difference in your shot groups.
Carrying a gun is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. Once you make that decision, other people’s lives are potentially in your hands. Therefore, living “The Martial Way,” the lifestyle of the modern warrior, in my opinion, is a must.
Article posted with permission from David Risselada
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