Given today’s challenging times, more and more people consider relying on their own personal resources to make it through. What can you keep in your proverbial tool kit to help galvanize your own self-trust, burgeoning skills and personal confidence? The answer is personal resilience and self-defense.
The dictionary defines "resilience" as the ability to recover quickly from illness, change or misfortune; buoyancy. In other words, the ability to persevere or bounce back. Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. As much as resilience involves bouncing back from these difficult experiences, it can also be directly applied to real-world violent physical altercations.
Paramount to personal resilience is mental toughness. As the body cannot do what the mind cannot conceive, being prepared to manage any undesired event starts with mental toughness. Three components to mental toughness are having the will, being mentally conditioned and having a viable personal combat perspective.
When it comes to tough times, you can choose to either cry in your soup, feeling sorry for yourself or, after acknowledging the gravity of your situation, have the will to do something about it. When it comes to competition, athletes of similar background, training, skill and endurance will be equally matched. All things being equal, the winner is always the one with the stronger will.
The same thing applies to a violent physical threat. If you lack the will to engage your opponent(s) or deliver debilitating strikes in self-defense, then you cannot ask your body to cash the checks your mind cannot write.
Mentally conditioning is a matter of being familiar with a potential threat scenario. It is said that if an undesired event is new, unfamiliar, and threatening, that your mind will struggle to process such information. The idea is to become familiar with threatening situations so that it is no longer new or unfamiliar. Of course, there’s nothing you can do about the "threatening" part, but you can certainly eliminate two thirds of the problem by inoculating yourself with gaining understanding and familiarity with training.
Change Your Perspective
Lastly, but certainly not the least contributing factor to developing your mental toughness is change of perspective. If you’ve never been on a hike before, then your perspective is that of a complete novice. You don’t know what you don’t know or what to expect. You are unaware that inclines feel different and take more energy and effort than downhill movement. You may not have yet developed your hiking legs for loose gravel or slippery rock or very rugged micro terrain. However, after a few hikes under your belt, you know what to expect, you’re accustomed to the environment and your perspective has changed from that of not knowing, inexperienced and lacking confident to one of familiarity, experience and confidence. When you change your perspective, it changes your reality.
The physical compliment to the mental component of personal resilience is self defense. Given your change in perspective, mental conditioning and you will to survive (the essential components of mental toughness) an extension of that will is made manifest by the actions of your body. You can have an iron will but if you are unfamiliar with self-defense technique then you are behind the action-reaction power curve.
In the world of self-defense, there are three useful resources from which you can draw technique. One comes from the plethora of martial arts and martial science available either online or via instructor-led training. Such classical examples as using your hands, feet, elbows knees and other body parts as weapons, and/ or how to get something into your hands like an edged weapon, impact weapon or firearm. Being proficient with your own body and/or weapons of opportunity as an extension of your will are critical to dominating a violent physical engagement.
Only the untrained ask: “What’s the one technique that will work every single time?” as the tough love answer is that there is no such thing. If there was, then we’d all know what it is and you’d see multiple examples of it watching online do-it-yourself videos. In reality there’s no silver bullet, no one-size-fits-all secret ninja move that resolves any and all physical altercations. It’s on you to decide how much time and resources you want to spend on your own self-defense training.
When it comes to martial arts there are only two types of people in the world—those who train and those who do not. Which of these two groups do you believe will have a better chance at surviving a violent physical threat?
As there’s only so much time in the day shared between work, family, commitments and obligations, you can’t train full time 40 hours a week. You’re lucky if you can make the time for even 3 hours a week. So, what should you spend that valuable time doing?
You want to reverse engineer it based on your own personal and operational profile. Do you carry a firearm? If so, then you need to train with it. If you carry a knife and you intend to use it in self-defense, are you trained to use it? If you don’t carry a knife nor a firearm, then are you proficient with your empty hands or perhaps improvised non-ballistic weapons such as edged, impact or flexible weapons of opportunity?
Training and quality practice are paramount to effective self-defense. Both require discipline and commitment. In today’s sound-byte society, few are willing to expend the time, finances and effort to build a solid foundation in self-defense. Even if they were willing to make the commitment and stay with it for a while, all physical skills, once learned, are perishable and must be maintained. If you don’t use them, you lose them.
The first and foremost tool in your survival tool kit—mental toughness—is a core component of both personal resilience and effective self-defense. Knowing what to do and how to do it starts with your mind. Combined with a quality self-defense training regimen to include sustained practice, this will help galvanize your own self-trust, developing skills and personal confidence.