When you talk to people about self-defense training they usually picture Boxing, Karate or Tae Kwon Do classes. Self-defense can mean different things to different people. Today there are many different styles and systems out there to choose from to fit people’s life style and reason for learning.
Today you are seeing an explosion in American society for the need and want to learn how to use a firearm. Ranges around the country are packed with people learning how to shoot whether it’s for sport or self-defense purpose.
I have been in the business of training in self-defense for 34 years. It all started in 1984 with the military. I was assigned to CATM (Combat Arm Training and Maintenance) in the United States Air Force. While in CATM I taught various weapons (small arms) to the Air Base Police, Combat Controllers and Para Rescue personnel amongst other personnel on the base who had a need to know. My training continued after my discharge from the Air Force when I entered into Law Enforcement. Since I was a martial artist at this time I also started teaching Police Defensive Tactics along with firearms. My Bio goes much deeper than I care to get into here as this is not about me. If interested you can see my whole background on my web site, my bio is there and I am an open book.
The purpose of this writing is to reach out to you and ask, why and how do you train? I firmly believe that people train in martial arts, some form of Combatives or firearms for a reason. I always said that people walk into the facility for three reasons: 1) Your casual trainee; they need a place to be between certain times (your class time), The impulse trainee; they read about what you teach and think it’s cool, 3) The serious trainee; something had happened to them or someone they know and they don’t want to be a victim.
Number 1 and 2 usually don’t last when reality hits. Number 3 has the potential to be a great student if mentored properly. I come across this often and when I get these students coming in I can read it right away. What is your reason to train in self-defense? What is your “why”?

Being prepared for training means a few things. First, what discipline are you looking to train in, martial arts or firearms? What are you looking for in that discipline? Do you want traditional martial arts or reality based? Defensive Handgun or competition shooting? If it’s reality based, what makes it reality based? If it’s traditional, will it transition easily to the street? Whatever you choose make sure it will work for you and your needs.
Next you need to search out an instructor. What kind of instructor are you looking for? Just because the person is an instructor or Black Belt doesn’t mean they can teach. They may be good at their craft but not able to get the word across. Did you do your homework on the instructor? What is the instructors’ background? Does the instructor still train, seek further knowledge so they get better? Instructors are a dime a dozen, choose carefully. A firearms instructor friend once told me, “Be aware of who you train with, you can throw a rock out the window and hit a firearms instructor.” This is true and the martial arts world can be the same way.
After you figure out the path you want to take and you have researched the instructor now you need to look at the cost. You will find different fees from different instructors. Just because an instructor is cheaper than others doesn’t mean that they are not good with skill or teaching. You pay for what you get, good or bad. You will soon figure that out on your own.
Hopefully you have done your homework up to this point so don’t nickel and dime the cost. Instructors make a living doing what they do. You are paying for their knowledge to be passed on to you. Would you put a cost on your life? What is your life worth? This is all part of the preparation and commitment to your path of getting better.
In all training there is cost involved. The fee for the instructor, uniform if needed. If you are training in firearms you will need a firearm and accessories that go with it.
I have had people call me for taking my class in Carry Concealed Firearms licensing and not own a firearm. I have a hard time understanding why you would take a firearms class and not own a firearm. Taking a firearms class with your firearm is to help you get to know YOUR firearm! I have also spoke to people who still carry and haven’t trained in months to years!! Firearms training and getting your concealed permit to carry is not a one-time thing. You need to continue to train with your firearm so you can keep your skill from deteriorating. When you carry a firearm on your body, in your car, or in your home it comes with some serious responsibility. You need to know what’s going on. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that because you took a couple classes last year and haven’t practiced since then that you can respond on time to a deadly force situation. If you think that, you are setting yourself up for failure and in extreme circumstances possible death or jail time. Know your handgun and the law of the state in which you live and train your ass off. Clint Smith of Thunder Ranch, one of my instructors once told me, when a bullet leaves the muzzle of your gun there is an attorneys name on it, hit your target! That statement has stayed with me for years.

Mindset and purposeful training go hand in hand. Again, why and how do you train? You should be able to answer this question pretty easily. My week consist of training every day in some skill development and fitness. I train in fitness every morning. Sometime during the day I work on my boxing skills, at night I train with my group in weapon defenses and ground work. I still travel 45 minutes north of where I live to train Brazilian Jujitsu two times a week. I travel 1 hour and 20 minutes to the outdoor range once or twice a week to shoot for half to full day and work on drills. I understand some of us don’t have the opportunity to do this. You need to make the best of what you have and the time you have to do it.
I prepare my training the night before in my mind. I focus on getting myself ready for the next day. I put a mental plan together (you can write it down also). WHY do I do this? WHY is my mindset like this? I was a police officer for 28 years, 16 of those with SWAT and I know what can happen to people in a moment. I have seen the outcome of violence on good and bad people. If I can prevent it, it won’t happen to my family or me. I don’t live in denial. That is mindset.
Along with mindset you need purpose in your training. How do you practice your skills? Have a plan on going in and strengthening your weaknesses and getting better. Break your skills down into sub sections and work those sub sections. For instance, if you want to get better at hip throws, get a partner and work hip throws and break down each step. If it’s handgun training and working stoppages/failure to fire, work drills that can make you better in that subsection of handgun training. Having a plan will help you focus, focus will help you get better.

Remember, good preparation and mind set will get you going on a good training plan. Train hard and with a purpose so you win!

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