About Being Curious…Adding New Skills to Your Personal Defense Plan

This is an image demonstrating close range defense

Muay Thai offers many options for mid- to close-range defense.

When was the last time you stepped outside your comfort zone and tried your hand at a new form of personal defense? Yes, I know my audience here, and I don’t mean the last time you picked up a new firearm or tried the latest and greatest ammo. I mean really stepped outside the box and added something equally useful to your training routine.

There’s a certain sense of comfort in familiarity, but there’s also a definite level of confidence that can come from trying something new. When training for my personal defense, I find that exploring different avenues is important, even if the new personal defense skill isn’t always a perfect fit. Either I like it or I don’t. Either it’s for me or it isn’t. Or maybe only part of it works into my personal defense plan (PDP).

My teacher’s teacher used to say, “Absorb what is useful. Reject what is useless. Add what is specifically your own.” This constant learning, this ever-evolving style of personal defense, is what I know. It’s how I was taught. It’s also what led me to pick up a firearm, and a knife, to put on a gi, or boxing gloves and head gear, or shin guards. It’s what taught me balance, timing, and the open-mindedness to pursue new avenues in the world of personal defense.

This is an image showing defensive strategies using bamboo sticks

Traditional Kali training begins with bamboo sticks …

Firearms Plus

Why am I telling you this? I get the impression that a lot of firearms enthusiasts come to the PDN website for information, and rightfully so. PDN is one of my “go to” sites for answers to my firearms questions. But I’m the type of person who’s always wondering what else is out there that could benefit my PDP, and I’m hoping to encourage some of you to think in the same manner.

This year I put together a monthly program of classes called “Be Curious.” My intention is to have others experience new forms of training to see whether or not those methods are right for them. This year we’re exploring handguns, shotguns, boxing, Muay Thai, Kali, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), Krav Maga, CrossFit, Tasers and pepper spray, and chess (yes, chess). Think of it as a buffet of learning for your PDP. If you like something, you can integrate it and get more training. If you don’t, discard it. Learning that you don’t like something is just as important as learning that you do.

Let’s tackle the big elephants in the room:

Time and Money

If you say you don’t have time to do any additional training and you like to “go with what you know,” ask yourself this: How much time did you spend on Facebook last week “liking” this and “liking” that? Yeah, me too. But if you’re short on time, take 15 minutes and head over to YouTube. Look up something you have been thinking about but just haven’t researched yet. If it looks interesting, find out where in your area you can get that training. And have fun with it. I affectionately call my 6pm Friday Muay Thai class (that I take) my Happy Hour. Or why not make it a family affair? Husbands, wives and kids can all benefit from a workout with a purpose, and you’ll score bonus points for quality time with the family.

This is an image of two women practicing self defense

… and can progress into various forms of bladed weapons.

Cost doesn’t have to be a factor either. While weekly instruction on a consistent basis is optimal, let’s be real. If you’re just curious about something, lengthy school contracts with the possibility of a large financial commitment might not fit the bill. But maybe a couple of private lessons would give you enough of a feel to know if you would like to pursue it further. And ask the instructor to show you personal defense skills that are applicable in everyday life, not ones that are geared toward sport or tournament fighting.

After the private instruction (PI), go home and practice those personal defense skills for a while. Trees are free, and we all have them in our backyard or in a public park. They’re great for punching (with hand wraps or gloves), kicking (with shin guards) or practicing your blade techniques (with a bamboo stick, PVC pipe, weighted bar, or broomhandle). Get creative. If you find that you have an affinity for what you’ve just learned, start thinking about training on a more consistent basis, or schedule a couple of PI sessions each month.

Since time and money are no longer issues, you just need to figure out what you’d like to explore. What are your weaknesses? What is your body composition? Want to increase your speed or strength? What would complement your firearms training? Whatever it is, there’s something out there to make that skill set more effective.

The Constant Student

Another important point is that it’s easy to get wrapped up in our own egos, but in doing so we lose sight of the importance of learning. I will always be a “white belt”/student in something, and I encourage you to adopt that same mindset. What am I curious about this year? Well, lots of things, but I’ve decided to dive into a few in particular:

This is an image of four students happy from training

Being a constant student, you never know whom you'll have the honor of training with next (left to right) Chris West in Mixed Martial Arts, James Tanaka in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or Sigung Richard Bustillo in Jeet Kune Do.

  • Chess: to increase my critical thinking ability and reinforce the roles of actions versus consequences.
  • CrossFit: short bursts of physical activity that provide maximum benefit (And who knows, learning how to flip a tractor tire just might save my life someday!).
  • Krav Maga: quick, practical moves always intrigue me.

I will learn these things on top of working a full-time job, running my martial arts/personal defense business, training weekly in BJJ and Muay Thai for personal development, teaching my own classes three evenings a week, and holding monthly Be Curious seminars. My goal isn’t to teach you how to overstuff your already busy schedule, but just to give yourself permission to be curious. There’s always time for learning and growth. Try one new thing, and if you like it, pursue it. If you don’t, find something else.

I’m already planning my 2014 Be Curious classes. First on the list . . . fencing. Wonder why? Look it up!

Discussion
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2 Responses to “About Being Curious…Adding New Skills to Your Personal Defense Plan”
  1. Glock man

    Always good topics, valuable info… Would like advice on a back up gun, auto, vs revolver – or in my case my edc weapon a glock 19, would a g26 benefit more being that both are 9mm & 19 mags can be used in the 26… Thanx looking forward to feedback

    Reply