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The Grizzly Bear Mindset

I am pleased to present a guest post to my blog.  The author wished to remain anonymous.

” I am not interested in the credit.  I only want to make known the true issue and I don’t care to be “known” by strangers.  Who I am is not significant to the issue at all, but only the issue itself is important.

If you wish to have a signature assigned to it, say it’s from a “Marine Combat Veteran”.
That should be enough.”

Let’s start with the back story

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Twenty-one years after he was attacked by a grizzly bear sow while hunting bighorn sheep in northwestern Wyoming, Terry Everard still recalls the incident clearly and still carries the now-hidden scars as reminders.

“When it happens to you, all you wish is that it will stop,” he said.

Now 58 and retired in Sundance, Wyo., Everard still hunts and still has a great respect for grizzly bears and their power. He preaches safety in the backcountry, including suggesting that hunters and hikers carry bear spray and have it ready for use.

“I have no animosity against bears,” he said. “I still bowhunt today, I’m just very careful.”

Everard grew up in Cody, Wyo., and was hunting with two friends in the Sunlight Basin when he startled a sow grizzly with cubs that had been snoozing after raiding squirrel middens to feed on whitebark pine seeds.

The sow was only about 40 yards away when it stood up on its hind legs from behind a log, saw Everard and charged. Because he was attempting to fill his bighorn ram tag, he was carrying a .270 rifle, but he didn’t have a bullet in the chamber and doubts if he would have had time to shoot anyway, since the sow closed the distance between them so quickly.

All he had time to do was drop to a squatting position with his head down and cover his neck with his hands. With a backpack on, the bear concentrated its attack at his upper body. Down feathers from his torn coat flew into the air as the bear clawed his arm.

“It just goes on and on, it just seemed like an eternity,” he told the Billings Gazette in a telephone interview. “And you just feel helpless.”

The bear gave him a black eye from pushing down on his head so hard.

In an attempt to end the attack, Everard reached for his rifle with his left hand, loaded a round and fired into the air. The bear stopped its attack and backed away, blood smeared on its fur. Loading another round, Everard prepared to shoot if the bear charged again. It turned and ran.

The bear had bitten at his head, shoulder and arm in the 40-second attack, causing injuries that would require more than three and a half hours of surgery and 250 stitches to close up. Because of the long time it took him to first walk, then ride a horse and finally travel in a pickup truck to the Cody hospital, Everard lost an estimated four units of blood.

“If I had lost another pint, I would’ve been in trouble,” he said.

Although the attack was traumatic, Everard said, it hasn’t affected him much.

“Everything that happened to me was superficial,” he said.

Most of the blood loss came from lacerations to his scalp, which bled profusely. The injury to his shoulder was bad enough to keep him from bowhunting that fall, but no bones were broken.

“The worst thing that happened to me was I couldn’t bowhunt that year,” he said. “I love to bowhunt. I still bowhunt today.”

Sure, he’s had a few bad dreams about bears. But he wasted no time returning to the site of the attack to try to make sense of what happened and to retrieve his backpack, which he had discarded as he fled quickly downhill to the hunting camp.

Although tracks of a grizzly with cubs were found in the area, there was no blood near the tracks, convincing Everard that the blood he saw on the bear was his own.

And he returned to the region to fill his bighorn sheep tag, eventually bagging a three-quarter curl ram on the second-to-last day of the season.

His experience is a cautionary tale that anyone who ventures into grizzly bear territory should heed.

“People just have to be more prepared,” Everard said. “Don’t hunt alone. Carry pepper spray, and not in your backpack.”

To start  my line of comments here…

I will state first off that I was not there.  I have never been attacked by a bear. 

I have however been attacked by men, armed and unarmed, and I have once been attacked by a Doberman Pinscher when I was a teen.  I have been hurt in fights a few times, but never very badly.  But enough to know what it’s like to fight when it was for all the chips, and when I was already hurt.
So in respect to the man who was attacked I wish to state right out front that I am only trying to add additional perspective to his, and take nothing away.
I have been criticized by others in my presentation of classes, and in general conversation , and I know what it feels like to have someone tell me all about what I did wrong,  when those people not only were not there, but also have never been in a deadly confrontation in their lives, so it is with some reservation that I offer my comments here.

 Nevertheless I will however offer my thoughts to my loved ones and dear friends because this is a subject I am quite familiar with. 

In all the text above, the one thing I see from end to end that was “done wrong” (for lack of a better term) is carrying the wrong mindset.  This poor man was not ready, by his own admission.

 He didn’t believe it would ever happen to him.


He did have a way to defend himself and his mind was jarred into reality when the bear charged.  A bear can outrun a racehorse in the first 300 yards, so from 40 yards away he indeed had very little time, but I open the thought process by asking “did he have enough time”?

Yes, I would submit he did, but he didn’t prepare himself mentally,  so he didn’t use it.

He had time to get a backpack up over his head.
He had time to drop to a squat.
He had time to recover a rifle from the ground, bolt a round into the chamber, and fire—  AFTER the bear had done some damage.


But even when he did get the rifle into action his mind was on defense, not offense.  Fights are not won in defense!  Defense may keep you from loosing ground, but it will never take ground.  It can keep the enemy from winning that time, but it won’t cause you to win either.

The bear quit, so the man lived, but ONLY because the “enemy” allowed it.  The bear dictated ever aspect of the engagement and every moment of the fight and even the time after the fight.

The Reality

In deadly combat, the one aspect that fighters learn that makes them a “vet” and separates them from the status of an FNGs or Greenies, is the mindset that it WILL happen, and it probably WILL HAPPEN TO ME.

 All Marines in my day got the same amount of basic training and the same amount of Advanced Combat Training before they ever went of to a school to learn an additional MOS (Military Occupational Specialty).  In most cases, Marines who went to combat had the same amount of TRAINING even if they were cooks or clerks.   But what made the real warriors stand apart from the rest was the idea that the fight was real, it was personal and it was GOING to happen to them. 

When you have that mindset, you do not let your guard down.  If you are blessed, you get to be wrong and it doesn’t happen to you.

But you never ever ever let yourself believe that “it’s going to happen, but to someone else.

The Warrior Mindset vs the “Sheeple” Mindset

It takes about 1 to 3 seconds for the average man to force his/her  mindset through these 3 stages and get into the fight.
Stage one—-  Denial of reality.
Stage two—-  Mental ascent to the probability of violence.
Stage three— Action,  forced by deadly conflict.

In most cases you will not have 3 seconds, which is why most people get hurt or killed even if they are “armed’ and “trained”.    They are not training themselves in the warrior mindset.    No amount of training in the arts or techniques of fighting is going to help if you don’t fight in time.

The “libs” of our communities will criticize that we are “cultivating paranoia”.  Don’t let them turn you!

That idea is based in a totally illogical overview.  The “libs would have everyone disarm, and never dwell on any possibility of real or deadly violence.  Sheep would have the wolves do the same, but wolves will not listen. 

In their twisted and incomplete way of thinking  (thinking?  ….Well… maybe I should write “feeling”) avoidance of the subject matter is insurance against the act.

It’s no different than removing seat belts from your car so it won’t crash.

Obviously someone with seat belts is looking for a crash—– in the same way someone with a gun is looking for a fight.  If this line of logic seems silly or foolish to you it’s only because it is.

I have been carrying handguns on my person since I was a mid-teen.  I have carried a pocket knife since I was 9.  I have had to use guns and my hands and feet to fight several times in my life. 

 And yet most people who know me say I am one of the nice guys.

 I love to help people and I love to cultivate friendships.  I am not predatory against my fellow man, and despite the “libs” feelings on the matter, when I am with others they are never less safe,  always at lest as safe as they would be without me, and usually more safe.
Even if they don’t know it.
Even if they don’t care about it.
And even if they hate the fact that I can protect myself and them.

Social Interaction

It is possible to teach some “libs” the truth.

Some are very difficult, but I have been able to teach some libs because not all are stupid.  Many are sincere, and those that are more sincere about a quest for betterment than they are about winning an argument can and have been educated.  

The facts don’t support their side, so feelings are all they have to fall back on, and insults against their opponents.

Those that do not sink to those levels are very often worth your efforts. Those that are honest and want to know truth (even if they don’t like it) will learn and are worth the effort to teach. 

If some will not learn, and are 100% unwilling to listen to any facts or truth, it’s best to allow for the fact that their opinion is unworthy of your time, and let them live in their world of feelings.

Do not bend in your convictions, or in your mindset to be prepared for combat at any time. Simply go on with your life as safely and as confidently as possible. Let the libs be the sheep they insist on being.

Let them take the seat belts out of their own cars too if they want, but not out of yours yours, (so to speak)  Let them go on with their lives until the crash,  thinking they are now safer right up until their last second. 

If you have the warrior mindset you are never unarmed.  Your mind IS the weapon.

Things that you use in your hands are only tools.  Tools don’t do the work.  Tools are only worked with by the worker.  Just as a saw and wood plane will not make a table, a gun will not defend you and your loved ones. That task is up to the worker.

In Summary

In the article above the one deficit the man had was the lack of proper mindset.

He knew that the area had grizzly bears, but he didn’t believe he was truly going to have to defend himself against one.  If that belief had been genuine and sincere he would have done exactly that.

The tools he had would have been in the condition of readiness and in position to have instant access.

This is not an ethical or moral judgment in any way.  It is simply a fact that this poor man didn’t believe this kind of thing would happen to HIM.  He was wrong.  I am thankful to God that he is not DEAD WRONG!

I am sure marksmanship and quality of the tool (the rifle) were not problems with this man.  He went on to kill a good Bighorn Sheep a bit later on, so that’s proof enough that he knows how to use a rifle well.

He had the rifle on his person as I said before.  He might even have had pepper spray in his pack. He had the time it takes for the bear to come 40 yards to get into action.

None of those advantages were used because of the one problem I am focused on here, to the point of sounding like a broken record about it. He didn’t believe it would really happen.

Correct mind set would have caused him to change ALL these factor before he was 20 yards away from his truck. He would have been ready for a real fight, and I am sure he would have done well.  Ability never trumps willingness.  Without willingness ability is wasted.


Balancing Martial and Art

Street-fight-1You begin knowing almost nothing when you start to train.  Maybe you have been in a fight, maybe you just love the idea of the martial arts.  Either way, you show up to gain something that you don’t have.

If you train in classical martial arts, you will begin to ask yourself, “Does this stuff really work?” after you reach a certain level of proficiency.

Martial arts takematsuIf you pursue a nitty-gritty, street fight winning combatives system, you will ask yourself, “Is there a more efficient way to do this?” or, “How do those old guys make it look so easy?”.

The good news is that those two questions can be a fantastic tool for ratcheting up your abilities quickly if you let them.



Having read several books by Rory Miller, and having trained with him in person at BuYu camp last year, I have pushed our training in a direction that emphasizes using what we already know to prevail in a fight.  It really cleaned up my knowledge of classical martial arts and weeded out some bad habits that I have picked up over the years.  We will pursue this path in the future, but I couldn’t help but notice that I ended up in situations that I handled badly, even though I prevailed.  At that point, I began to wonder if there isn’t a better way…  You see where this is going, right?

Silhouette illustration of two figures doing martial art stanceSo, now it is time to go full circle and study the classical techniques slowly and methodically while trying to understand why these training methods have prevailed for hundreds of years.

I believe that it is important for any student of conflict to steer away from the extremes of martial art zealotry (blind faith) and brute force combative methods (experience based knowledge).  When the balance shifts too far one way or another it is time to re-center yourself between what you already know and what you can be taught.

The old “Kitten in the Grill” ruse.

The following was in our local news:

Police received a call of suspicious activity in the drive through lane at McDonald’s Restaurant Tuesday morning at 7:04 a.m. A woman called police that a man walked up to her vehicle and told her there was a kitten stuck in her grill. He had a tiny tuft of hair that he produced. When calling police later, the woman said she did not look in the grill for a kitten, or get out of her vehicle, but instead drove away to her place of employment so someone there could check. The woman said she did not know if there was a kitten there or not.

1)  She did exactly the right thing!  Even though she was in a low crime area and despite that this is a very public place, this could have been a setup for some sort of criminal action. (I would place my bet on car theft)  By getting out of the car and looking intently at the grill, she would have given a would-be attacker a variety of opportunities.

2)  A kitten in the grill?!?!  Really?  And how would it have gotten there exactly?  So you are driving down the road at 50+ MPH and a winged kitten flies across the road…

This was almost certainly a prank, but in a more isolated location it could have been the setup for something more sinister.

Be Safe.  Trust your instincts.

On Courage and Convictions

I live a few miles outside of a small town in Wyoming, and the other day I was flagged down by someone standing in the middle of the road while driving into town just before sunrise.  Out here people hit deer or swerve off the road because of animals, so I stopped in case help was needed.

It turns out that he was about 17 or 18, walking in the middle of nowhere at dawn, drunk or stoned (probably both) and had no idea where he was.

I embrace the idea of making the world a better place and protecting life (even the bad guy), and if he kept getting out into the road, he was going to get himself killed.  As we talked, I listened carefully to my instincts and intuition, and decided that although he was a risk, he was not a big risk.  To make a long story short, I put him in a tactically acceptable location in the car (no, not the trunk) and gave him a ride into town.  I dropped him off in town without incident, and we each went our separate  ways.  I’ll never know if I made much of a difference or saved his life or whatever, but what the heck, it seemed like the only thing to do.

The story is of interest because a friend of mine who is much stronger and generally physically superior to me stopped for this young man earlier, but declined giving him a ride.  Other friends that later heard the story expressed their concern with my sanity.  They are justified with their actions and opinions because it would not have been safe for them to help.  These friends and I all believe in the ideas of charity and helping our fellow man very devoutly as part of our religious faith, and statistically, they were all better examples of going the extra mile to help others than I am, but this time they were unprepared physically and mentally.  They had not “run the scenarios and done the math” mentally for a potentially hostile situation. They couldn’t improvise weapons they may have needed, and probably don’t carry a dedicated weapon; in essence, they were the wrong piece to this part of the puzzle.  I was the right piece of the puzzle because I had, I could and I do.

I am not writing this to tell everybody what a great guy I am.  I want to inspire my fellow sheepdogs that there are holes in the puzzle-fabric of the world where we are the only fit.  Most people view our need to study the fighting arts with caution or worse, but in spite of that it is important that we keep up our training and mindset.  We want to help those that really need it, and there are people in dangerous situations who need our help.  Sometimes we are the only ones that can help them.

Stay strong, train hard and maintain the courage of your convictions.


Good enough!

When you learn the warrior arts don’t worry that your techniques are not perfect.  Try to learn them well enough to get the desired effect.  As you grow in experience, you will be able to recognize your flaws and remove them one by one.

If there is a perfect way to do any thing, I have not found it yet.  Jut keep going.  That will be good enough.

Dead Wrong, and not in that order.

During a recent training session I heard a story that really shook me.  I would like to present it to you from the viewpoint of one of the victims.  I am going to do my best to not embellish this very much, but I will take some liberties in describing the scene to fit the description that was given to me.  Think about what you would do…:

You are in college.  While walking through a residence building (it was either a dorm or an apartment complex, I am not sure), you hear yelling, several loud noises (like something big being dropped, or a hammer hitting  board), a  fight and then a crash.  Being the good Samaritan type (sheepdog), you investigate to see if you can help.  As you turn a corner, you see that a door to an apartment is open, and there is a mostly naked man pinning another man on the floor and beating him savagely.  It is obvious that the fight began in the apartment and has made its way into the hallway.

You pull the aggressor away from his victim.  He struggles frantically to break free from you.  He is yelling at you to let go of him, but you hold him so that his victim can stand up and you can see if he is ok.

So far so good.

The victim steps just inside the doorway, recovers his handgun and proceeds back into the hallway, next to you, where he shoots the frantic, naked man to death.  He then goes into the apartment and shoots his ex girlfriend to death as well.

The “rescuer” escaped with his life, but only in a sense…  His trauma from the event makes him victim #3. he could have easily been killed in the exchange as well.

The full story is not uncommon.  It starts with a jealous ex boyfriend looking for revenge, and finding his ex in bed with her new guy, he decides that if he can’t have her, nobody can.  He shot several rounds into the floor around the bed, and at some point the naked guy found an opportunity to attack the ex and disarm him.  A fight ensued, and, well, you know the rest.

Why do I bring this up?

If you have the sheepdog instinct, you can be a danger to others if you don’t train yourself to protect the “bad guy” as well as the “good guy”.  That training is available.  Get it.  I don’t care if you are not a martial artist, or don’t want to carry a weapon, or whatever your desire is to limit your potential.  Figure out what you are willing to do, and get the training to do it properly.

Lets contrast the story from above with something that happened to a very good friend of mine (this has been published previously on my website.  Please forgive the redundancy)

… [he] witnessed a man with a golf club chasing an unarmed man down.  He was able to intervene and safely disarm the “attacker” and keep the “victim” safe, but under control also.  It turned out that the attacker was a store keeper who had just been robbed, and was about to make a very big mistake by chasing down and beating the robber in back of head with a golf club in anger.  He could have lost everything in a law suit (or worse) if he had succeeded; regardless of whether the robber had deserved it or not.  If my friend had jumped in and beat down the “attacker” until he dropped the golf club, or worse yet, shot him to protect the “victim”, he would have done the wrong thing, even though it seemed right at the time.

Can you imagine having to live with yourself after a mistake like that?

That is why (to quote Jack Hoban) “The training was designed to help us develop as protectors of life.  Whose life?  Self and others.  Which others?  All others, if possible. Killing only to protect life.  This seemingly paradoxical statement – killing only to protect life – is the behavior of the Ethical Warrior.  It is predator-like, in that it can be cold and professional.  But the objective is to protect, not kill.”  

In the end, the real bad guy was restrained, the police showed up and arrested the robber, and the real good guys stayed safe.

Think about it…

Martial Arts or Women’s Defense?

That seems to be the big question everybody is asking me these days.  While updating my Women’s Defense curriculum, I found that all of the information and differing opinions about the best way to teach a short, effective defense class tailored to the needs of women was overwhelming, and quite frankly confusing.  Some instructors encourage the use of pepper spray, tasers or firearms, while others claimed that those things are ineffective for most people.  Some national organizations claim that martial arts are ineffective for women, while others encourage you to maintain your skills by continuing to study.  So, how do you sort through it all?  By using the same method that is taught almost universally in any defense system anywhere:  Trust your instincts.  You know what is best for you.

Let me Elaborate…

As of the time that I wrote this, I have spent over 24 years studying unarmed and armed self defense including the use of knives, sticks, firearms and just about anything else that I can.  I have trained with law enforcement officers, soldiers and civilian experts, and I ask a lot of questions.  Does that make me a tough guy?  Not really, but it means is that I have a great deal of information on the subject of self and others defense.

That being said, let me give my completely honest opinion of “Women’s defense”:

Is there a set of skills that you can learn in 3 hours that will enable you to absolutely keep you and your family safe from any physical attack?

Of course not.

Why would police, military and martial artists invest in literally years of training if we could just take a 3 hour “Women’s self defense class” and be done with it?

Is there something so special about being a woman that there are ways of fighting that apply to women exclusively?  No, not really.

So, Should there be special classes for women, and will it really work?  Yes and yes.  Surprised?  Consider this:

  • Many women have been unintentionally taught to be timid and to give in to the demands of an aggressor.
  • Those same women are much less likely to give themselves permission to defend themselves until they have lost the advantage and are in a situation where they have a reduced chance of succeeding.
  • Women who are forced to physically defend themselves are most often targeted by a “predatory” person who is looking for someone smaller and weaker than they are, and who is looking to get something from them, such as money or a sense of power and superiority.
  • Because young women don’t typically physically fight each other for social status the way young men tend to, they often have little understanding of their natural capacity to defend themselves.

In order to break the self doubting mindset that leads to victimization, a “Women’s self defense” class is very valuable, and there are many organizations (including our dojo) who offer just such a class.  The goal of our class is to:

  • Awaken your natural self protection instincts.
  • Make you realize how capable you already are of defending yourself.
  • Encourage you to take the responsibility for your personal safety, especially if you have come to rely on other people to make sure that you are safe.

Can I do that in 3 hours?  Yes I can.  8 hours would be better, but I can get you started in 3.

Is a  Women’s Defense class enough to keep you out of trouble? 

So, what do your instincts tell you?  Trust them.  Only you know the answers to the question.  Let me offer some of the following ideas for you to consider:

  • The Women’s self defense class is essentially an introduction to tactical skills.  It will dramatically increase your odds of survival when being targeted by a predator, but there are more things that you can learn that will increase your skills still more.  Do you feel safe enough, or should you seek further training?
  • The physical defense portion of Women’s Defense teaches that you can dish out more damage than you thought you could.  This is a powerful piece of information to have.  Once you have those skills, you need to keep practicing them.  Is there something you can do that will help you build on what you have learned, and give you many new skills that you have not even considered yet?  There are also some martial arts that will not help you at all.  If you feel that the physical portion of the class was valuable, but you need more, I suggest further unarmed combat training.  What makes one martial art or training program better than another?  It depends on the focus of the training, and your focus while training.  Contact me and I will give you my opinions.

What about a handgun or pepper spray?

Weapons such as pepper spray and tasers are a commitment.  In order for them to be effective, you have to have them ready when you need them.  You also have to be able to use them smoothly, accurately and proficiently.  This requires some training and also requires practice.  They won’t do you any good in the bottom of your purse or back at home when you are surprised…  If you are willing to carry them as a weapon, they can greatly increase your odds of survival, but you have to be willing to adopt certain aspects of a “warrior’s mindset” that goes well beyond the scope of a Women’s defense class.  If they sound like something you are interested in, you will want more training, and I can offer it.

Firearms are even higher maintenance that the other weapons.  I am a strong supporter of carrying firearms, as they can make an 85 pound girl as formidable as a 300 pound football player.  That being said, there is a significant amount of physical, emotional and legal training needed for somebody who carries a firearm.  That training is available, and can be enjoyable.  Don’t skip it if you are going to carry your gun.  Just don’t.

If you are interested in a Women’s Defense Seminar, or more in depth training to reinforce what you have previously learned, please contact me at:

Bujinkan Buyu Lander Dojo

Gun Safety and Kids


The four basic rules of gun safety are:

1.  The gun is always loaded.
2.  Never point the muzzle at something you do not want to destroy.
3.  Your finger is never on the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
4.  Be sure of your target and what is behind your target.

If all 4 of the above rules were obeyed all the time, nobody would be injured or killed by accident with a gun.

More important than being able to handle a gun correctly, is the ability to recognize when they are not being handled correctly, and having the courage to leave.  We have been teaching this to the kids class.  I acknowledge that many families do not shoot guns or even own them;  however, we live in the United States of America, and the presence of guns is a reality.  Illegal guns are everywhere in the world, even if we would like to think that they are not.

I teach kids to have the courage of their convictions.  It is part of the regular anti-abuse lessons.  When things are not right, they have to be brave enough to get themselves, and if possible, everybody else, safe, even if it means that they will be embarrassed in front of their friends.  Naturally, the extent to which they are willing to live like this depends on the child.  It is my hope that the children I have taught will be brave enough to leave or escape a dangerous situation if someone else is not handling a gun correctly.

People who are killed by accident are usually killed by an unloaded gun.  To me this is one of the great tragedies, because it is theoretically entirely avoidable.  I knew a boy who was 11 years old when he was killed by an unloaded gun.  The gun “wasn’t loaded” and so he played with it, and the results were tragic.  I also tell a story from personal experience where proper handling of an “unloaded gun” resulted in a safe and happy outcome when, to everybody’s surprise, there was a bullet in the chamber.  This illustrates the importance of following the other 3 rules.

I always finish gun classes for kids with the Eddie Eagle (NRA) message: “If you come across a gun, STOP. DON’T TOUCH. LEAVE THE AREA. TELL AN ADULT.”


Doing the math

Strategy, tactics, techniques, regular training and weapons are force multipliers.  The force they are multiplying is you, specifically your will to survive, to protect others and to do as much damage as is necessary to achieve those ends.  Let us review some basic math:

10 X 0 = 0

5 X 0 = 0

10,000,000 X 0 = 0

Got it? If your ethics are so messed up that you lack the will to do what is necessary to protect yourself and those you care about, then you are multiplying by zero.

Don’t be a zero.

When you train, do it with the will to protect yourself.   Have the self respect to correct your flaws so that you will survive and protect in that moment that you are needed most.  Remember why you are there.  Every moment in training is a simulated fight.  It is not social club or exercise time.

It seems to me that in my younger days I confused making my taijutsu effortless with not having a strong will to succeed.  The thought at the beginning was if I really want a technique to work, then I would have to try hard, therefore I need to use all of my strength.  As I was taught not to use strength, implying that my movement needs to be better, I unconsciously also allowed myself to lose.  On some level, I thought that it was better to do it right than to “win”, because I could figure how to prevail later once my technique is correct.  I hope you are all shaking your head and thinking that I was an idiot, because that is what I am doing.  I hope that by writing this, I am sparing someone the same mistake.

We don’t train to lose a conflict, we don’t train to put ourselves or people who need our protection in danger!  Ever!  The unashamed will to prevail needs to be there all the time.  You can then multiply it by using  it to never put yourself into danger and to never allow your attacker to gain the tactical advantage.  A stick, gun, tree, rock, corner of a building, etcetera can make you many times more effective as a warrior only as much as you are willing to be fully effective.  If you are unwilling, they multiply your attacker’s will to be a predator and they will be used against you.

Train Real,


Aurora Colorado: Into the wind.

This blog post is part 2 of 2. To read part one, click here

There are few things more annoying than an “armchair quarterback”.  It is easy to have an opinion when you didn’t participate.  That being said, I am going be a hypocrite, so lets just take that as given.  I offer no defense on my part for that; I only ask forgiveness, if necessary, for my speculation.

I hope that my previous article got you to see the better side of the people around you.  I did note, however, that not everybody in the theater that night was a shining gem of humanity.  Lets dive a little  deeper into the subject, shall we?

I heard of one man who abandoned his girlfriend and her children for fear of his own life.  His protector instinct was not functioning. Why not?   Think carefully before slandering him as a coward.

There were reports of shell casings hitting people on the head, which would indicate that they may have been less than 10 feet away, and off to the side of the shooter.  He was wearing a gas mask and therefore had limited peripheral vision.  It appears that some people were located very close to the shooter and were not able to stop him.   I don’t know all of the details, but I can’t escape the thought that it could have been stopped or at least slowed if only…  If only what?  That is the question, isn’t it?

In summary, some people failed to act, and others acted incorrectly. Why?   I can’t be certain, as I am just an armchair quarterback, but I see a clue in our school’s zero tolerance policies and its unintended consequences.  Society pressures us to be non-violent, and that is generally good, but maybe the over zealous zero tolerance policies of the schoolyards and other workplaces have left us without a mental “tool kit” to cope when somebody else is violent.   When discussing school “bullies” with many of the children in my youth martial arts classes, I encounter a common theme.  The bad kid doesn’t care if he or she gets in trouble, but the good kid feels helpless to stop him for fear of repercussions from the school administrators.  So taking action even to defend one’s self (or a friend) gets removed from the possible options.  As a result, bully problems in schools appear to be on the rise as the zero tolerance “solution” is more strictly enforced.

I recall several times when I have been told that violence is never the answer.  I disagree.  Try as we might to resolve things peacefully, once  a situation reaches the point that that violence is the answer, it is the only answer, and will probably need to be served in generous portions.  So back at the theater, perhaps those who behaved badly didn’t have any violence in their problem solving tool kit.   They may never have considered it seriously.  With that option removed, they were probably overwhelmed by the situation. Lets be fair, to be prepared for the unthinkable, one would have to think about it first.  Somewhat paradoxical, isn’t it?

They may have never thought it through and readied themselves because “it would never happen to them”.    Even while it was happening, they were telling themselves “this is not happening…”  When they finally came to the realization that it was actually happening, and they needed to do something, they didn’t know what to do.  Why not?  Go back to the beginning of this paragraph and loop through it again…

That fatal loop is an exception to the rule.  When you consider the statistics of it all, the chances are incredibly high that it wouldn’t happen to those people or anybody else.  It is so unlikely, in fact, that one might be correct to say that it wouldn’t happen to them.

The odds are that it won’t happen to you either.

Seriously, it won’t… but it might. Ever buy lottery ticket?  Do you get indoors during a thunderstorm?  Do you have an insurance policy?  Why?

Because things happen, that is why.

If you could go back in time and talk to the people in the theater two years ago what would you have them do to be ready to protect the people that they love? (“Don’t go to the opening show of Batman in 2012…”  Yes, very insightful, but off the point.)   So, could your advice apply to yourself?  How do you know that you won’t need it some day?  After all, things happen.

So, what are we talking about here?  Attending a self defense seminar?  Buying  pepper spray?  Taking a gun class?  Those things are good.  If that is all you can manage, then it is slightly better than nothing, but self defense skills are perishable and need regular maintenance.  What I am talking about is training to think like a warrior.  To be alert, resourceful and committed to action.  The best way to maintain that mindset is regular and  realistic training.    It should  not be so traditional that it overlooks modern weapons and realities, nor should it be so new that it discards the wisdom of over a thousand years of real experience.

It is time to address the elephant in the room: Is it even possible to fight a heavily armed and armored opponent with your bare hands? Can you actually be prepared? That is a tough one to answer. It has been done successfully, but rarely by someone without good training and a serious combat mindset. When you are beginning your training, the guy with the gun wins most of the time. Victory is eventually possible if you learn to always cheat.

Being unprepared for an attacker means that you don’t know the rules, and therefore can’t cheat.

(Yes, I know that there is another elephant in the room.  The first rule of gun fighting is “Have a gun.” It is the best way to cheat.  The reality of the situation is that it was illegal to have a gun in that theater.  I don’t want to turn this into a political discussion.  Draw your own conclusions.)

I hope that you have realized by now that you have people you will protect if you can.  What this means is that whether you want to or not, you will step into harms way for them if the time ever comes.  Wouldn’t it make sense to be ready for that?  Reinforce that feeling with some ability and you’ll have a much better chance of being there for them the day after.  Unlike the people we discussed above, you are going to have to think about it.  Then you are going to have to do something with your conclusions.

The downside to all of this is that it will take time, which you probably don’t have.  It will take money, which you probably can’t afford.  Besides, nothing that bad will probably happen to you, right?  Lets look at this from another angle for a moment:  It is really a matter of priorities.

We all waste time and money.  We watch too much TV.  We buy stuff we don’t really need.  You get the idea.  Could you find something to exchange for some training time?  What do you have to lose?   Another re-run of “Friends” and a Chia Pet?

What do you have to gain?  A chance.  A chance to be more.  A chance to be the difference.  Not to mention health, peace of mind, friends, a good challenge…  You know, quality of life.

You see,  your people need you to be trained.  Really, we all need you to be trained to defend yourself and the people you care about.  The police can’t be everywhere.  I can only speak for myself here, but I am tired of hearing about evil people getting away with terrible things.  Maybe I would like to see the good in people a little more often without digging so deep.  I would like more people to step up to the line and become somebody who can make that difference.   It would only take a few, here and there, and wouldn’t that be a great world to live in?

If the recent shooting in Colorado taught us anything, it is that we can’t be complacent.

Think about it.

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