Defensive training, religious fervor – and you: why deification is bad for self defense.

Defensive training, religious fervor – and you: why deification is bad for self defense.

I’ll admit to not fully understanding religious zealotry, despite having studied it fairly extensively. In most major religions you can find sects who seek to fix their beliefs and observances at some arbitrary point in time, and from then on never change (or, at least, try their hardest to not change.) This leaves me to wonder: what makes their arbitrary point in time better than someone else’s arbitrary point? On that very question is built sectarian warfare, as even a casual perusal of modern day conflict will show. At the very least it causes strife as each side tries to convince the other that their world view, anchored as it is to some date on a calendar page long past, really is better than the other.

The same thing happens in the defensive shooting world, perhaps even more starkly. There are sects in our field which fix their training beliefs at some point in the past and resist – sometimes vehemently – change, growth, and evolution. Statements of belief abound: “It worked then, it still works”; “if it was good enough for [blank], it should be good enough for you”; “who are you to question [famous gunfighter/branch of military/police agency]”; and so on. Rather than looking at the field of study as an ongoing and progressing work, it’s viewed as an unchanging truth that only heathens would deny.

What brought this up? Check out this video at YouTube.

Why don’t our defensive shooting courses today look like this film? I see a lot of people in the defensive training world who look reverently backward, teaching the techniques and knowledge of the past as holy writ. I wonder: if the past contains, as some contend, all the lessons about defensive shooting that we could ever need or want, and therefore have no need to seek improvement or evolve, why not go back further and further? If what was being taught in 1981 was somehow superior to what we know today, doesn’t that make what people were teaching in 1961 even better? What makes one arbitrary point in shooting history more valuable, more valid, than an earlier one?

There is no answer to such questions other than a charismatic one: people adopt an unchanging world view because someone else did and was able to convince them to as well. If someone tells you that what they teach is “time tested” (meaning that it is old and therefore should be revered), ask them why they’re not teaching you something even more time tested (i.e., older.) If being old is the mark of value, why stop with the FBI Crouch of 1961? Why not go back to the bullseye, hand-in-pocket stance common to police training in the 1930s?

The measure of virtually any field of human endeavor has always been progression, of learning newer and better ways to do the same old job. That’s true in the defensive shooting world too, no matter how much people want to believe otherwise.

-=[ Grant ]=-

  • Posted by Grant Cunningham
  • On August 12, 2013