Entrenched Positions in Self Defense

Although you can and most likely should try to glean what you can from what happened in Las Vegas in regards to your own safety, navigating a panicked crowd, etc., I want to make it clear that this post was written and prepped for publishing late last week before everything went down. So, no, I will not be talking about Las Vegas in this post.

The hardest thing, I’m told, is attacking an entrenched position. The challenge comes in the form of finding a way to maneuver around, to flank the position. This is just as true on the battlefield (never served, comment here is made from reading and going off what I’m told from servicemen who’ve “been there”) as it is when discussing opinions, especially hot button ones. You have to maneuver, you have to flank in order to get through the faulty logic and reasons in order to communicate effectively.

On practically every topic, you will find entrenched positions – regardless of fact, regardless of information or misinformation – it’s practically a given nowadays.

It doesn’t take long to find these entrenched positions in regards to self-defense.

If you hang around anyone self-defense minded long enough, you’ll eventually hear them talk about protecting their family and sometimes about how if “the day” comes, that they’ll be able to do it.

They’ll be ready. Full stop.

From my personal experience among those in the self-defense world, most of those who are “entrenched” fall in line with someone who – despite being well-meaning, – is untrained, unprepared, unhealthy (usually a few rolls over the belt), uninformed, or some sort of combination of those four.

I’ve had both failures and successes in the few conversations I’ve had with well-meaning folk like that fall into this category. The failures, of course, came from doing exactly what you shouldn’t do and the successes came from flanking to see what was behind the entrenchment.

When I’ve gotten around, I’ve tried to understand exactly why they believe they’ll be able to deliver on “the day”. Maybe its a form of cognitive bias, or confirmation bias – I’m not really sure – they insist that they will be able to deliver on “the day” despite training, despite physical fitness, despite mental preparation and counting the cost due to a myriad of reasons: the adrenaline surge, the love for their family, the anointing of God (think Samson), the weapons they possess, the “cowardice” of the criminal, etc. I have had at least five one on one conversations of this caliber over the last handful of years.

This subject popped back into my head again after my writing my posts about preparing for and participating in my first BJJ Tournament (See here, here and here.)

Firstly, as I cannot and do not speak on behalf of the trained warriors in our society (LEO, Soldiers, Special Forces), for the civilian, nothing can fully, truly, “prepare” us 100% for the time that violence comes to our doorstep. The closest we can get to 100% preparedness is training.

Serious training.

Training, drilling, stress testing the skill set learned, repetition upon repetition upon repetition, pushing your body physically, inoculating yourself to stressors similar physiologically to a real fight, rinse, repeat.

Over and over.

Similar to my experience at the tournament. I had trained, trained and trained some more. I had pushed myself with physical training on top of BJJ. I had taken care of my body with proper fuel and severely limited my intake of sweets and junk. I rolled many, many times with people who are better than me, both equals as far as rank as well as higher belts. I did everything that I thought was right to do in order to prepare. All of it certainly helped.

And here is where I tie this back in to the subject of self-defense.

At the end of the day I still found myself lacking and among the participants who did not go home in the top tiers of their brackets. I lost.

Does that mean I will lose in a real life fight? Not necessarily. However, I have gone so far as to see how my mind and body would react against an opponent who didn’t know me and was going full power against me to put me down. I put my BJJ skill set, technically speaking, to the best stress test I could and came back with a couple of losses.

Now, what if I believed with all my heart that the adrenaline would somehow get me through the matches – without training, without preparation – see what I’m getting at there?

My wife and kids were watching, too, and I love them dearly. But my love for them didn’t give me any special abilities. I personally do not buy the stories of “I know a guy who knew a girl who knew the cousin of the roommate of the person who bench-pressed a car off their baby”. People, no matter how much they love you or you love them, cannot imbue you with a super human strength and berserker warrior ability when their lives are in danger.

Guns aren’t magical. They are tools. Inanimate objects, devoid of special powers. Like it or not, when operating said tools in a real situation, what we have or haven’t trained will be to our benefit or detriment, and even that will be a severely downgraded version of our best training. I can’t be hardware oriented, tools are just tools.

I could’ve worn my coach’s brown belt and his favorite Gi but those things are just clothing – there isn’t anything magical or special in them that could transfer to me. It is the training that the person wearing the Gi and belt have put in that makes the difference.


Hopefully you are tracking the overarching point of this post.

I won’t magically “have it” on the day that “shit goes down”.

This isn’t a mythical legend I am living in.

This isn’t a cartoon.

If I am serious about protecting my loved ones or myself, then it should behoove me to remove the planks from my eyes, take an unflinching objective look at what I am doing and weigh it against what I am not doing, and adjust accordingly.

Nothing can substitute training and preparation.

My life and the lives of those I love do not deserve anything less.

Train, then train some more.

Deeds over words.

So, some may be thinking, “Well, Tom, do you think you’ll be ready when/if the day comes?”

My answer: Am I willing? 100% Am I able? 100% Will it be enough? I hope so.

I don’t think I’ll ever come to a place where I believe I have done “enough”.

I have work to do. What about you?

Pursue Mastery.


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Train, train more. Train harder.

Inspired by this post over at SHTFPLAN.

Antifa (link for humor, but truth is oft found in humor) and their ilk are speaking more and more about training, organizing, and learning how to be proficient in hand to hand combat as well as weapons. These are people who are willing to make IEDs out of glass bottles and M-80s and throw them into a crowd, as well as deliver bricks to the face of someone opposing them.

They are willing to be violent, very willing. Just disagreeing with them is enough of a reason for them to become violent. Now granted, I’m not looking to go to events in places that mobs like this congregate, but that’s not the point. I could be caught unaware and be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Shit happens. The point that I want to focus on here is training. How well are you going to fare against them when they up the ante on their training and you are at the wrong place at the wrong time and you just happen to look like someone they hate and do not tolerate?

Image result for berkeley antifa

Train, train more.

Train harder.

Like I was explaining to a friend a few weeks back. I’m not training to defend myself against a coward who will tuck tail and run as soon as my right cross connects with his chin. No. I’m training for the 350lb gorilla looking motherfucker with his five friends ambushing me, hell-bent on destroying me and doing unspeakable evil to my loved ones. My mindset is this: I am the only one that stands in the way.

Appropriately enough, Tim Kennedy shared a similar sentiment this morning. Emphasis in bold is mine.

If you keep knocking on the devil’s door, at some point he is going to answer it. In that single moment, when you’re going to have to fight for your life, what you do then and there truly won’t matter. There will have been thousands of decisions up to that point that will dictate the outcome. Every one of those decisions contributes to your survival or failure and potential death. Your life may not matter, but those behind you that you are there to protect will face the horrors of evil without you standing in the way. Have you trained? Have you put the blood, sweat, and tears into preparing for this chance to be the defender we need? Your spouse, children, and potentially hundreds of innocent and vulnerable lives, with nothing to stop the violence headed their way but you… what have you done to prepare you for that fight?

I’ll look this devil trying to dish out death straight in the eye and tell him to pick his poison. Either way, he’s going to die.  ~Tim Kennedy

Now, if recently re-enlisted Special Forces/retired UFC MMA fighter Tim Kennedy believes there is no such thing as enough training, and if others like him down the line believe the same, and guys like me who are so low on the totem pole that we’re not even on the radar believe there is no such thing as “enough”… What makes you believe your training is enough?

Train, train more.

Train harder.

There is no such thing as “good enough”. Do not believe for one second that you can “just go to guns” or draw a knife and be guaranteed victory. No, train with the understanding and mindset that there are people out there that can easily take that gun from you and whip you to death with it, or take that knife from you and ventilate your chest cavity with impunity.

Let that sink in.

I am not the baddest, meanest, most lethal motherfucker out there, I am well aware of my shortcomings as well as my proficiency. That being said, every day I am trying to get the edge of my “knife” sharper. To be more resilient, stronger, faster, to endure more and be harder to kill than I was yesterday. This is why I enjoy training with and around guys who are better than me. This is why I seek out training from highly proficient people whenever I can: the range, the gym, the mat. I keep hubris in check and embrace the humility of knowing there are always bigger, stronger, faster, more proficient people out there.

Train, then train more.

Train harder.

Pursue Mastery.

Sprints, Ropes and DOMS

Since Sunday’s post, here is a breakdown of what has been going on in my world of PT and getting stronger for my family…

Monday: Sprints

20×25  w/45sec rests in between each sprint.

Tuesday: Ropes/Push-ups/Heavybag

Endless Rope x4 @ 1:30, alternating directions

Endless Rope x2 @ 2min, alternating directions

3×10 Push-Ups, 1×5 Pushups – Failed on 6th attempt

Heavybag work: 20 strikes of each: Jab(L), Cross(R), Hook(L), Uppercut(R), Horizontal Elbows (L&R), Centerline punch (L&R)

Wednesday: Eliptical Work

17min on a “Cross Training” program that increased and decreased the intensity of the run

It is Thursday and I am still suffering from DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness otherwise known as P A I N!) due to Monday’s sprint work. It has been quite awhile since I have done sprint work like that. At the end of each Saturday run, I do sprint the last 100+ yards, however I haven’t done a workout dedicated to all-out sprinting for about two years. I need to do this more often!

Mrs. Kenobi and I have just over three weeks to go before our next 5k run. She has been accompanying me when we go to the gym to work the machines like the Endless Rope and Elliptical. She has also been doing some road work of her own. I’m looking forward to seeing how we perform for the 5k.

It should be a good one.


Add Thursday’s Upperbody work:

Superset x 5: Aussie Pull-ups x8 & Push-ups x10

A new training partner

So, Mrs. Kenobi and I “stumbled” upon a new training partner. By stumbled, I mean, we pass by this rarely used contraption almost every time we are at the gym and rarely do we see anyone using it, but nevertheless, it looks interesting so we gave it a shot.


The Never Ending Rope.

You can adjust the tension settings so we each found a good challenging setting and then took turns on it. We did four sets each, my first three sets were 1.5min each and the last set was 2min long.

Oh my…

What a deceptively wonderful machine!

We then went and did three sets of 10 push-ups, my arms gave up on the third set. That’s how good the rope worked me!

As Mrs. Kenobi did a couple laps on the track for her final workout piece, I hit the heavy bag.

Just a couple of married people with kids rocking some PT.

And so can you. Get creative. Take a look at your gym, what “new” or “overlooked” activity or machine or exercise can you try out?

Keep moving forward!

07/30/2015 Edit: I am loving this machine! I am still a little tight in the arms, lats and chest, but I am surprised at how much my core was worked as well!

Workout 01/10/15: OHPs and Heavy Bag Work

Overhead Press:

Bar(45lbs) x10 x1, 75lbs x10 x1, 95lbs x5 x2, 105lbs x 2 x1, 105lbs x4 x1

Heavy Bag & Combatives work: 30min

Footwork drills, Left Jab x10 x1, Right Cross x10 x1, Left Hook x10 x1, Right Hook x10 x1, Left Uppercut x10 x1, Right Uppercut x10 x1, Jab/Cross x10 x1, Jab/Cross/Hook x10 x1, Left Snap Kick x10 x1, Right Front Kick x10 x1, Left Thai Kick x10 x1, Right Thai Kick x10 x1, Left Knee x10 x1, Right Knee x10 x1, Straight Blast – 10sec blasts x 4, Left Elbow x10 x1, Right Elbow x 10 x1, Straight Blast – 10sec blasts x 4

It was a good session, I am sore on this Sunday morning!

Workout 10/05/14: Iron & Combatives

Back to the gym today! Still tender from Friday’s workout, but it’s training day so it’s time to get my lift on!

Today’s workout:

Squats: 45lbs(bar) x10 x1, 75lbs x5 x1, 95lbs x5 x1, 105lbs x5 x3

Overhead Press: 45lbs x5 x2, 65lbs x5 x1, 75lbs x5 x1, 85lbs x5 x2  – switched it up again from the bench, gotta work the Press too!

Deadlifts: 45lbs x5 x1, 115lbs x5 x1, 135lbs x5 x2, 155lbs x5 x2  – I decided to go a little light on the DL’s today, but worked the sets with a little more tempo than normal, but still preserving form.

Combatives Training: 10min heavy bag work throwing 30 kicks per leg: left & right lead front kick, l & r rear thai kick, l & r knee strike from clinch) and 50 strikes per hand/arm (left jab,right cross, l & r hook, l & r uppercut, l & r horizontal elbow, l & r vertical elbow), then did 30 seconds non-stop straight blast (think Ip Man/Wing Chun).


Oh yeah…one more thing. When I got home, I did yard work for about two hours. I am truly: DONE.

Be strong for you.

Be Strong 4 Family.

Workout 08/31/2014: 2 PRs at the Gym

I sit here typing this very tired, but also very happy. I went to the gym early this afternoon, spent a good hour and a half there from warm up to cool down stretches. I then went home and did another hour and a half or so of yard work. Pushed my body hard and I’m holding my head up with a smile for that, I came away from the gym with TWO personal records!

I am still coughing a little bit from whatever the heck is going on with my allergies, however I decided that I needed to push myself a bit and get the job done at the gym. I substituted my mile run, however, with combatives training. Just a different kind of “wind” needed for that.

Today’s workout was as follows:

Dynamic Warmup: 10min

Deadlifts:  45lbs (bar) x 10 x 1, 95lbs x 5 x 1, 115lbs x 5 x 1, 135lbs x 5 x 1, 145lbs x 5 x 1, 155lbs x 5 x 1 (PR!)

Overhead Press:  45lbs x 5 x 1, 55lbs x 5 x 1, 65lbs x 5 x 1, 75lbs x 5 x 1, 85lbs x 5 x 1 (PR!)

Chin Ups / Negative Chins:  5/0, 3/2, 2/3, 1/4, 0/5

Combatives Training w/the heavy bag: approx 20 min.

Cool Down Stretches: 10min