Protecting & Defending All Aspects of Self

Everyone’s freaking out over something right now. Some over COVID-19. Others over how society is reacting to the virus. Others still are worried about the long term economic impacts, or the second and third order effects of city-wide shutdowns.

There’s plenty of anxiety to go around. That’s why, especially now, we’re as actively aware of our mental and emotional safety/wellbeing as we our of our physical.

A couple years ago, I found myself in this perpetual state of “blah”. On paper everything was going great, but there was this internal weight that just kept dragging me down. I was constantly fatigued, found myself regularly experiencing random and inexplicable feelings of dread. I wouldn’t even partake in things that I normally enjoyed. I kept trying to shake it off. Telling myself that I was somehow being weak, because I had no good reason for these feelings. Despite my efforts, I still regularly found myself just wanting to curl up on the sofa with my dog and wait for the day to be over.

I finally reached out to a friend of mine who is a mental health professional, and we talked. Our conversation resulted in him making me aware of something called dysthymia. Paraphrasing, it was suggested that the dysthymia could be environmental. He was right. Soon after I’d changed jobs and found myself in a much better headspace.

In the defensive community, you hear Gavin de Becker’s book The Gift of Fear touted quite a bit. The focal point of that work is “listen to what your brain/body/instincts are trying to tell you”. Survival instincts are hardwired for a reason. Well guess what, same applies to the mental/emotional side of things as well. Be aware of it. Control and manage it, but don’t suppress it.

The point of this post, as with most that I share, is to simply present my experiences as a learning opportunity. If it resonates with you, great. Hang in there, and take care of yourselves on all fronts.

*I feel like this goes without saying, but I’m in no way a mental health professional, and none of this should be construed as medical advice. If you feel like you have issues that require that attention, please consult a professional*

I Put My Crotch On Display For Your Entertainment: How Pant Rise Affects Your Carry Setup

Today I talk about making sure that your wardrobe doesn’t interfere with your carry setup. Jeff Mau at Tenicor and Spencer Keepers have touched on this subject, so definitely go check them out and follow them as well. Most dudes aren’t familiar with the concept that pants have different “rise” (the distance between the waist and the crotch). This measurement can either facilitate or hinder your EDC. Also, if like me you have a bit of a “successful lifestyle body”, you might fall into the trap of wearing their pants too low on the hips instead of at your natural waist. Given that we’re all hold up and eating our anxiety, you might find this info useful over the next few weeks.

In case you’re wondering, the products featured in this video are:

I’ve done a review of these belts that you can find here

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5 Tips for Surviving COVID-19 & Quarantine in Comfort & Style

There’s a lot of doom & gloom, and a lot of artificially inflated panic going around right now. It’s a prime opportunity to work on our social fluency and emotional control. Interpersonal interaction is easy when both parties are having a good day and emotionally stable. When one of them’s agitated, if you’re still able to get to the desired result, then you REALLY know your skills work. Just because the situation isn’t ideal doesn’t mean we can’t leverage it to our benefit. Here’s a few suggestions on how to make this time of social distancing a bit more palatable.

Toilet Paper Shortage? Try this and thank me later.

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Vet Sources

It’s really important to approach information with a little skepticism and a critical mind.

Just because someone did XYZ job doesn’t necessarily mean they have the expertise to comment on a given subject.

Over the last 6 months or so, I’ve seen an uptick of folks with impressive resumes putting out bad information on several subjects related to the defensive world. It’s troubling because a lot of folks will take their commentary as an endorsement, without doing any deeper research of their own.

In most of these instances, I choose to chalk it up to knowledge bias: They’re so accomplished that stuff seems easy or obvious to them that might be more difficult for us “regular earth people”. You spend enough time around enough highly capable people, and it’s easy to get an inflated view of what base-level abilities are. Defensive driving & correcting a skid are probably a lot easier for Mario Andretti than it is for you or me.

Unfortunately, there are those out there that appear to be trying to capitalize on their backgrounds for their own gain, and aren’t interested in the quality of the info they’re putting out as long as it turns into more sales. Thankfully, they’re easy to spot.

Regardless of who your chosen experts are, it still bears asking “why do they have this opinion?”. If their explanation stops at “Because I was X”, that’s just a fancy way of saying “because I said so”, which is an unacceptable answer in my opinion.

If someone takes exception to being challenged (provided you’re not being a dick about it), that is probably a clue.

Please be selective about who gets your money, as well as your intellectual and emotional resources. We are in the golden age of good information that’s readily accessible. We owe it to ourselves to create a non-permissive environment for derp and myth.

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The Most Important Aspect of Self Defense that Nobody Talks About

There are so many facets to self defense:

  • Pistol skills
  • Knife skills
  • Verbal skills
  • Empty hand skills
  • Medical skills
  • Legal skills

And each one of those could easily take a lifetime to master. We all know black belts and GMs that are still working to improve. That being said, it is very easy to get caught up in the pursuit of all of this that we manage to forget exactly what it is that we’re working so hard to protect: Our lives, livelihoods, and well-being.

It’s possible to spend so much time refining these skills that the rest of life gets neglected and falls by the wayside. There are some folks who choose to live their lives around the gun, and refuse to go anywhere they’re not allowed to carry (or risk the legal consequences of carrying where prohibited). Then there are those who go the Travis Bickle route, hardening themselves for what they are certain is an imminent battle.

For me personally, I choose to live as fulfilling a life as possible. I enjoy good food and drink, the arts, and travel. My study of predators, violent criminal actors, and defense craft are there to supplement this lifestyle, and make sure that I’m able to have the broadest and most varied range of experiences possible. It’s an easy trap to get caught in, and it’s not discussed much. I just wanted to highlight this pitfall so that more people are aware that it’s out there. Ultimately it’s your life. Live it how you choose. But I do think it’s worth asking the question whether or not you’re spending more time training than you actually do living.

Go check out Greg Ellifritz over at Active Response Training. Great content, and an amazing dude.

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The Other Guy Gets A Vote

Whether you’re talking about a violent encounter against a resisting opponent, or someone’s perception and opinion of you, nothing we do happens in a vacuum.

All of our decisions are going to come up against outside forces. We need to be aware of this, and have enough proficiency to be able to influence the outcome in our favor as much as possible.

Because at the end of the day, the other guy get’s a vote.

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You’re Only the Good Guy in Your Mind

Everybody is the hero of their own movie. Whenever that idea is challenged, the response is typically a desire to defend one’s honor, or explain yourself so that people won’t think ill of you.

Neither of those are usually the most ideal way to handle it.

Paul Sharp had a great post that highlights some of these concepts that you really should read. Go check it out

Andrew Branca’s The Law of Self Defense:

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Being Basic

Once you dive into an area of interest, it’s very easy to get caught up in the minutia, and quickly want to get flashy about it.

What I’ve seen that separates the masters from the amateurs is how well they understand and execute the basics.

The best bartenders I know don’t do flare bartending, but they can absolutely NAIL an old fashioned.

The best dressed men in my life don’t do loud colors and flashy patterns, but their suit game is immaculate.

It’s easy to look like you know what you’re doing by throwing a bunch of stuff at the wall; the more components there are, the less any one of them can drag down the overall result.

The challenge is that the basics aren’t necessarily fun or sexy. Practicing them can be tedious. But mastery of the basics tends to result in a higher level of overall proficiency.