Are you defensively fit? This New Year, resolve to be.

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I know, I’m not big on the whole New Year’s Resolution thing either, but I’ve found that it’s easier to make lifestyle changes stick when there is more than one benefit to the resolution!

Lots of folks start off the New Year with a resolution to get into better shape. For most folks it’s about looking better or fitting into a specific piece of clothing; for others, its an understanding that excess weight can be a health issue unto itself.

One thing that most people don’t understand (and usually don’t even think of) is that getting into better shape can keep you safer as well!

You first have to understand that this is being written from the perspective of someone who used to be in great physical shape, but over the last decade hasn’t paid a lot of attention to that part of his life. I’ve gained twenty pounds that I really don’t need, but along with that I’ve lost a lot of endurance and flexibility. I’m still in better shape than a lot of my mid-‘50s peers, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot.

What bothers me most isn’t the fact that my pants are too tight (they are), but the knowledge that my ability to keep myself safe has been diminished. Aside from the fact that I’m more at risk for simple accidents like breaking an ankle, I’m also less able to evade an attack or to physically resist an attack (that I couldn’t evade…!)

Physical fitness is more than just looking and feeling good. A lethal attack is an intense physical experience; even if the correct response is drawing my defensive firearm and shooting, my ability to handle to elevated blood pressure, heart rate, and loss of muscular control is less than it would be if I were in better condition.

Let’s say that you’re in my shoes and you’re attacked by someone. He manages to get within reach of you, where the use of your gun is a far riskier proposition than simply drawing and shooting, before you even really know he’s there. Your fight is now physical: you have to keep him from killing or maiming you, and if you have the training you need to control him to allow you time and space to access your defensive tools. This fight might only last 30 seconds, but it’s going to be the most terrifying and exhausting 30 seconds of your life.

Are you in the condition you need to be to handle that? I know I’m not!

How about the attack that you see coming from a distance? Can you run away? I mean really run — sprint at top speed — to get yourself out of danger as fast as you possibly can? Can you get yourself over an obstacle like a fence? If you’re carrying a lot of extra weight, or your joints aren’t flexible enough to move rapidly, you’re not going to even be able to avail yourself of this most important tool: evasion.

This is why improving your physical condition is an important part of an all-around personal security plan. You and I both need to be at a level of fitness that gives us the best chance for a positive outcome in a fight.

Now I’m not saying that everyone needs to have ridiculously low body fat or have six-pack abs or go to Marine boot camp! I don’t think it’s necessary to go overboard and spend all of your free time at the gym. I am saying that you need a level of physical conditioning that at the very least allows you to climb a flight of stairs quickly without panting; to repeatedly get up from the ground quickly and easily, without spraining anything; to overcome a force equal to your own body weight. That’s easily achievable for just about everyone.

How do you go about this level of transformation? Joining a gym is one way, but just running on the treadmill isn’t going to suffice. Look for a well-rounded program, one which  helps you improve flexibility, endurance, and strength; all are important. CrossFit may be one path; MovNat may be another. What it is exactly isn’t as important as doing SOMETHING, today, to make yourself harder to kill!

Physical fitness is a defensive tool, just as a firearm or a knife or a flashlight is. It’s also the only tool that will help you look and feel better, too!

-=[ Grant Cunningham ]=-


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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