What is the first, most important thing you need to have for self-defense?

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Whether we’re talking self defense or the larger concept of self preservation, there is one thing that stands above all others in its importance. You can’t buy it, though there are people who will try to sell it to you!

I came to the self defense arena through the firearms world. That wasn’t intentional, it just worked out that way! People in the shooting community, some of them very sincere and accomplished, tend to look at self defense first as a shooting issue and only after that look at it in a broader context.

Much to the chagrin of some in the defensive shooting business, the legally carried firearm is just a tool; it’s an implement we use because it’s efficient and effective at the task of convincing someone to stop doing bad things to us. The firearm is the one thing that can put a petite woman on a (relatively) even playing field with a 200-pound prison yard weightlifter. It’s still just a tool, though; because it’s an inanimate object it needs an operator to be effective.

Without one thing the operator of that firearm (or any other tool) is useless: that thing is the will to live, to survive, to prevail. Without that resolute attitude that your life is worth living, that it is worth saving, any tool that you possess — up to and including the gun — will be impotent.

In the shooting world this is often referred to as “mindset”, and it’s a term that I’ve come to despise. Not because it’s not important; after all, I just said it was! No, it’s because of the notion that this mindset can be ingrained with a 15-minute lecture at the start of a weekend warrior course. It can’t. The mindset that you can and will survive at all costs comes from inside you, not from someone standing in the front of a room spouting testosterone-laced one liners about “fighting spirit”.

If you’re starting down the path of self defense or self reliance, you first need to look in the mirror and be able to say “my life is precious to me, to my family, to the people who love me and to those I love. It is worth saving and I will do everything and anything to do so if it becomes necessary.” That, ladies and gentlemen, is what this mindset business is all about: it’s a decision you make ahead of time that you want to live.

Yes, it is all about you. Not everything in this world is, but your life is most definitely all about you and should be!

Once you’ve made that decision (and for some people it’s a difficult one to make), then it’s just a matter of learning to use the tools necessary to fulfill your decision. Even if all you have are your teeth and your wits, the will to live gives you the power you need.

Take Angela Champagne-From; she was attacked by a man with a hunting knife who wanted to take her to a secluded spot (where the outcome would no doubt have been horrific – never let someone take you anywhere under force!) Angela says she “fought like a girl”, but I think that demeans her act: she decided that she wanted to live, and then used what she had available to ensure that she wouldn’t be a victim. She fought like a human being whose life was precious to her.

Would it have been better had she been armed? It certainly would have been physically easier, and the earth might likely have been bothered with one less sociopath, but the most important thing to take from her story is her will to prevail.

It’s been said that the mind is the ultimate weapon, but that statement seems inadequate to me. I think it’s better to say that the real weapon is the decision you make ahead of time that your life is yours and worth protecting; everything else, including objects and knowledge, are simply tools to help you make it a reality.

Make your decision.

After that be sure to acquire the tools, skills and knowledge that will enable you to execute that decision efficiently. (It’s this part that I can help you with!)

-=[ Grant ]=-



About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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