Does Your Training Methodology Define You?

Gunservant turns 3-years-old today, and it is fitting that Bryan (a regular and valued contributor) decided to write a piece that is slightly more philosophical than usual for the occasion. I hope you find his discussion invaluable, and potentially life-saving. -Ed

Written by Bryan Mennie, Photo Credit to Thelmarie Smit

I want to blend practicality with philosophy. Regular readers of this blog might forgive me this indulgence, especially since I believe it will cover an important gap in what we commonly refer to as our training or preparedness matrix, or whatever terminology we want to use to describe that we wish to take seriously as the requirement to protect ourselves and those whom we love.

Now in essence it is precisely this concept of self-definition that causes us, unwittingly, to minimize ourselves (and pigeon hole ourselves), or manipulating the structure of our lives and our efforts to meet the definitions of others.

Let me explain. When we identify ourselves as gun people we aspire to adopt the culture of that element of the firearms experience which either most attracts us, or which most closely meets our needs from the shooting world. Similarly for those of us in the combat sports/self-defence environment, we define ourselves by the methodology we pursue. We are an IDPA or IPSC shooter, we are a Krav girl or MMA guy. We become identified by the methodology we pursue and in this process we forget that at heart we are on this journey because we wanted to defend ourselves and our loved ones. Now, I understand branding and the investment we make into methodology and culture. From a motivational perspective, a modicum of this mindset is not the worst aspect of one’s character. Yet when it grows from methodology with which we achieve our goal into defining the goal itself, then its value decreases.

Now that I have set that component up, let me offer an alternative perspective.

If my goal is to defend my life and the lives of those that I love, how can I break down the foundation so that I can build upon that with principles which won’t overtake the entire process?

My belief is that one prevents that by understanding and remaining true to your root cause. So my stated goal is to defend myself and those I love, to make that practical let me restate it as ‘getting myself and my loved ones “home” in the best possible state’. What do I need to achieve that, here is where selecting a methodology comes into play.

From my perspective the fundamentals of ‘getting “home” in the best possible state’ are:

  • Awareness
  • Mobility
  • Capability
  • Motivation

By keeping those four fundamentals centered, it allows one to select methodologies or training mechanisms which ultimately meet your needs and provides a mechanism for you to consistently hold that methodology true, and prevent it from morphing into the goal.

Awareness encompasses my understanding of the dynamics of an environment, my ability to perceive the atmospherics of a situation, and the capability of making good decisions based on those inputs. These concepts can be broken down and this as is any one of the four fundamentals is worthy of its own in depth explanation.

Mobility then underscores my physical ability to deal with the situation in whichever phase it is, whether it be running to avoid it, projecting myself with sufficient dynamism to discourage predation, or dealing with the physical requirements of the environment or altercation. I need to be able to have the capacity to do so.

Capability of course speaks to our proficiency during an altercation. Can we use our firearm or knife under stress? Does our training support acting, thinking and making decisions during times of high stress?

Motivation speaks to the will to fight certainly but more practically the ability to deal with a great deal of stress related inputs without being overwhelmed by any or all. Having the ability to focus on the need to return “home” is the single most valuable concept you can cling too when the dam wall starts to crack.

Once you have those four measures you can plan that holistic implementation you will need to ensure that these are as balanced as you can get them. If you are that boxing guy who shoots a little bit of pins, then you might need to focus on your shooting under pressure or shooting through some scenarios. If you are that shooter who can effectively hit plates at 200 meters with his pistol, but cannot run the 200 meters to set the plates back up, a focus on some fitness would likely be in order. If your only possible way to deal with an altercation involves a violent outcome, then you need to work on gaining some balance to how you manage your emotions.

So understand that the goal is ‘getting “home” in the best possible state’ and the fundamentals that support this goal are awareness, mobility, capability & motivation then selecting methodologies to support those fundamentals should be that much simpler. An hour’s defined reading of your environment and the areas you frequently transit through with an hour’s focused reading of specific threat and known modus operandi every week would benefit you, whereas becoming a social media or news junkie would overwhelm you and ultimately find you eating Pringles in the corner broadcasting your opinion to the virtual world whilst being too scared to step into the real one. Joining your local Cross Fit box or Tacfit session and training once a day would be awesome for your mobility. Trying to emulate Rich Froning or Matt Taylor in winning the Crossfit games would ultimately detract from your other focus areas. Maintain the balance and don’t define yourself as a methodology who does a few other things.

Always make it “home”, be it home of the mind or a home of brick and mortar. The value you bring to your family is the cornerstone of that home and you owe it to them to bring it.

Bryan Mennie is a professional risk and crisis manager. He has taught kidnap avoidance and hostage survival to various international organizations and has managed protective and security operations in over twenty countries in Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.


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