Yesterday, over at Bearing Arms where most supposedly self-defense focus training falls down, I laid out my thoughts on. Admittedly, I have to go on anecdotal information about training since it’s not humanly possible for me to train with everyone.
Now, I might well be judging those trainers too hard. Most are providing a service and all that and they’re providing exactly what their customers want. The problem is with we, the consumers of said training.
What I laid out in that post, however, covers a whole lot of ground. There’s a lot of things to learn and train in. After all, between firearms training, hand-to-hand training, and physical training, you’re looking at hours upon hours per day potentially, all geared toward making you an uber-badass.
The thing is, you have a life. You may have a family. You probably should have either a job, school, or both. You have a whole lot going on.
Not just that, but you’ve also got friends, hobbies, and other things that either make demands on your time or else you desperately want to make time for.
Here’s the thing: That’s good!
For most of the people reading this post and this site, learning how to handle yourself in a violent confrontation may well be important, but the odds of it actually happening and pretty low. You’re probably not going to have to embrace your warrior nature and kick a little ass.
Sorry, but you’re probably not.
Ultimately, that’s a good thing. Violence is part of human nature, but we live in a civilized society, such as it is. Even if you’re completely justified in your use of violence, there’s still a potential cost for dealing with it. Legal costs, for example, in defending your use of force, as well as potential psychological costs.
Yet you still may be called on to use it, which is why I feel everyone should train to deal with potential violence.
However, because the odds are relatively low, it seems like a profound waste of time to direct all your attention toward this on potentiality.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Aspects of your training may well be your hobbies. I’ve been a firearms enthusiast for years, for example. Embracing the “way of the gun” isn’t solely driven by the need to protect myself and my family. Part of it is that I just like guns.
Although I went far too long in my life without it, I’ve always enjoyed lifting weights. It’s not so much an obligation as something I really enjoy.
Other people love martial arts regardless of any tactical benefit they might get. For them, that’s a hobby they’d continue even if they could be guaranteed perfect safety for themselves and their family.
These certainly can be hobbies and pastimes that you enjoy. But what if they’re not? What if you trudge to the gym several times per week and hit your BJJ class twice a week only because you agree with me that you need more tools in the toolbox than a gun?
Well, for one, keep going. These things are important.
However, they don’t need to be everything. They don’t need to be the overriding focus of your life. After all, what is the point of protecting your life if you actually destroy it in a fit of obsession?
In all things, you need balance.
Yes, it’s OK to skip your regularly scheduled range trip to go to the beach with your family. Yes, it’s fine to skip a martial arts class or a workout because it’s your daughter’s birthday.
And, most importantly, it’s absolutely essential to make time in your life where you’re not doing a damn thing that revolves around self-defense, combat, warrior-lifestyles, or anything of the sort.
The idea here is to protect your family, your home, and whatever else needs protecting. Yet it’s not about becoming Jason Bourne, John Wick, or The Accountant.
Instead, it’s about you having skills that you can use when you need them so you can protect what matters most.
Look, I could tell you that you need to rest, recover from your training, and all that. Frankly, everyone does, but that’s not what I’m going to do.
Instead, I’m simply going to remind you that this isn’t your job. No one is paying you to try and stop the ravenous hordes out there. You’re not a Delta-SEAL-Ranger-Recon dude. You’re a sales guy or a factory worker or a welder or any number of other non-tactical careers. You don’t need to become preoccupied by this.
For me, talking about this stuff is my job to some degree. As a result, I have to do as much of this as possible to not be a total hypocrite. I also have far more time I can devote to this kind of thing than most.
Seriously, I can spend three hours at the gym, an hour at a martial arts class, and another our shut away doing dry-fire drills each day and still have plenty of time with my family and friends. It’s just not that difficult for me because I work from home in a job that gives me a lot of flexibility.
Chances are, you don’t have that.
So that raises the question. How do you find that balance?
First, let’s remember that you have, roughly, eight hours per day during the week for family, friends, hobbies, training, and whatnot. This is assuming that you have a full-time job and sleep eight hours per night, which is ideal. If you don’t have to work eight hours per day because you’re a student, a stay-at-home spouse or something else, we’ll address your situation later. This is for the majority of people, the folks who work full-time.
Alright, you have eight hours per day.
Let’s assume you’re just starting out. You’ve got a gym membership and started shopping around for a martial arts school. You’ve decided you like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and are looking at a couple of places.
First, start lifting. Three days per week of strength training on a program like Starting Strength is a good place to start. Strength is the foundation of everything, so hop to it.
When you find a school you like, enroll. Try and find a class that alternates with your gym days. For example, if you lift on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays, then you want classes on Tuesday and Thursday.
If you spend about an hour at the gym each day you’re there, and you spend an hour in class while you’re there, you’re spending precisely one hour per weekday training. This still leaves seven hours per day for time with your family.
“But what about conditioning?”
Well, Starting Strength actually advises against actual conditioning programs during that time for most athletes, for one thing. For another, you’re going to get a fair bit of that during your BJJ class to start with, so you’re covered there. For now, at least.
Over time, you may find you need to spend a bit more time doing physical training because you’re not getting enough conditioning at class. That’s fine. We’ll talk more on how to accomplish that later, but let’s assume it adds a half-hour to your training time.
This leaves you with six and a half hours of time each weekday. That’s still a lot of time.
Now, granted, this is assuming you don’t have a long commute to and from work or to and from the gym. At least with the gym, you can set up a home gym and train there.
But as you can see, there’s still a fair bit of time.
None of this touches on the weekends, mostly because I figure the weekends should be primarily reserved for the family. It’s not that you can’t train on the weekends or that I think you shouldn’t. It’s just that I think the focus should be on the family.
Of course, with 16 hours per day, that’s a lot easier to do. Taking an hour to attend open-mat time at your BJJ school is much less of a thing then.
Then again, Saturdays are when most folks go to the range, and you should definitely get range time.
However, your range time isn’t likely to be a weekly thing. As much as I’d like to shoot weekly–as opposed to shooting weakly–that gets expensive. Quickly. A couple hundred rounds is a fairly brief range trip, but those costs add up.
Further, unless you’re a competitive shooter or have serious issues with your shooting you need to work through, you probably don’t need that much range time.
Once per month, for example, may be all you really need to hone skills and techniques. If that’s more than you can manage, then once every two months.
Seriously, even on that schedule, you’re probably shooting more than the average gun owner does. You’re definitely training more than the average bad guy.
Now, depending on where your range is, that might be a bit of a day. Family tends to understand your need to do something like this every so often. So long as it’s not all the time, there’s still a significant balance toward your real life.
And yet, with just 6-7 hours per week–far fewer than you would tie up with a part-time job–you’re still working toward keeping your family nice and safe in a dangerous world.
But no matter what you do, don’t waste time. Don’t spend it so wrapped up in the idea of bad people that you start seeing them in your sleep. Don’t become obsessed with any of it.
You have a life. You have people who matter to you. You have people you matter to.
They’re why you’re doing this, right? In that case, you damn well better make time for them.