Are You Fit Enough To Fight For Your Life?

By Rouen Heiberg

How prepared are you to fight?

Right now, if you were stuck at this very moment in the local mall with an active robbery or shooting in progress…can you run away? Can you run up that flight of stairs next to the escalator? Can you do that carrying your 3-year-old daughter and pulling your 5-year-old son?

Second scenario, if your vehicle gets boxed-in during a hijacking and you need to exit the vehicle to engage…can you get out quickly, or are going to get stuck because your bierpens (I have one as well) is in your way? Can you run behind your vehicle and drop to one knee quickly to get cover?

Third question, OK…Let’s say you did run, and you get to cover: are you going to be so gassed out you can’t shoot straight. or will you be able to focus and get accurate hits on target?

This topic recently came up in Dave Spaulding’s Blog ,Handgun Combatives, and I realised that physical fitness is something we as gun owners often neglect the most. We get so focused on the gun that we forget that fighting is not a static activity.

The whole reason why the military makes such a huge deal of fitness, is because fighting is a very exerting pastime. The reality is that the fitter you are, the harder you are to kill. By not having a basic level of fitness, you are actively making yourself an easier target. Your attacker will outpace, outrun, out punch, and ultimately kill you. Chances are you will go up against a younger, stronger guy with nothing to lose. So put down that cheesegriller pie and let that sink in for a moment.

Now, before I get stoned to death, by fitness I do not imply you need to be a Comrades-running man-mountain able to leap buildings in a single bound, and Hulk-slam the criminal through a drywall. Myself: I have about a zero chance of becoming a Mens Health cover model. I like braaibroodjies, beer and the odd Cuban cigar too much. I also stand by my statement that being slightly, er, chubbier…you are harder to kidnap. However, I’m in my 30s with two operations behind me, due to injuries. I can run 5km without stopping to search for my lungs, climb a rope, and move a decent amount of heavy weights. A few times a week I go to the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club to train and spar against guys actively trying to choke me out. Many of the club members are on the wrong side of 45 and still manage to keep up with the youngsters. In fact, they put some youngsters (like me…don’t let the gray hair fool you) to shame.

A couple of years ago, when I started my journey into being fitter and being able to fight, I learned a valuable lesson early on: fighting makes you tired. It is one of the most humbling things you can do. If you think I’m lying, take this challenge. Find a buddy of similar size, and have your wife time you: wrestle him for 2 minutes flat-out. Have them sit on top of you, and try to throw them off. Alternatively get some gloves and spar with each other for 2 minutes. When you are done think how it would feel if the other guy was actively trying to kill you.

Trust me, I know all the excuses. Because I make use of them myself: no time. No money. Not in the mood today. I’m too old, or too tired, or too busy, or whatever else you want to put in here. It’s all bullshit – we’re not fooling anybody, cue the butthurt.  Granted, some people may very well have legitimate medical conditions. I underwent an operation myself this year, and it took me out of action for a few weeks. But I’m back at it full-speed ahead. While we are sitting on our arses thinking of nonsense excuses, a 19-year-old career criminal is looking for his next victim. Do you really want to increase your chances of dying because you couldn’t even throw a proper punch, or climb over a 6ft fence? How stupid would that be?

Fact is there will always be some excuse why you can’t do something, but the next time you are thinking of an excuse to stay on the couch instead of going for that run, keep this in mind: Derek Weida, a US military veteran lost a leg, is an active CrossFit competitor. A local trainer I hugely respect had a guy in a wheelchair at his course this weekend. In our BJJ class a close personal friend of mine competes despite being in his middle 40s, and having a pacemaker. He does park runs every weekend, and out-rolls guys half his age.

 In my opinion you need to achieve a balanced level of fitness. A bit of cardio with some resistance work, and a little bit of flexibility: a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none. I try to vary what I do every day. The only consistent activity lately is my time on the mat. Otherwise it’s jogging, working the heavy bag, some circuit-type training. I try anything to keep it interesting.  It doesn’t need to be boring, and you don’t need to spend R1000 a month on a CrossFit membership.

The reality is that your fitness level will not always be the same, since life happens: some days you will struggle and others you will feel like a machine. But don’t screw yourself over and get injured or killed because you didn’t have the basic mobility to climb a 6ft wire fence.

In the words of Dave Spaulding, be an active participant in your own rescue.


During the week Rouen works in the security industry designing integrated security solutions. During his free time he cultivates his tactical beard, causes butthurt amongst liberals, and helps to run an IDPA club.

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