Learn to Swim

*the following is an excerpt from my book How to Survive an Active Killer

The key to realizing our ability to fight, without conjuring up an unreasonable hero mentality, comes through education. Most rational people are afraid of being confronted by a weapon. Even highly trained individuals do not want to come face-to-face with the possibility of death or serious injury. I assure you, I have no intention of discrediting the lethality of the weapon you might face. I do, however, want you to discover the difference between practical fear and unreasonable fear, and a simple step to begin to overcome that. For a lot of people, the mere presence of a gun will jack their heart rate up and shut them down psychologically. Some people may never get over this fear. Past experiences may have created a wider chasm than the average person can cross without the assistance of professional psychiatric help. For most, however, this fear comes simply from a lack of knowledge. They don’t truly understand how the weapon works, what makes it dangerous, and how it can be defeated. They fear it simply because they don’t understand it. Their answer to that fear then becomes to stay as far away as possible. Out of sight, out of mind. There’s one major problem with this thought process as it pertains to weapons: if you spend any amount of time in public, you cannot avoid the presence of a weapon. Guns, knives, and bludgeons are everywhere, even in places where they are banned or illegal. If we cannot avoid weapons completely, with what option are we left?

Think about this. You’ve always wanted a swimming pool. The stars have finally aligned, and you have the land and the money to have one installed. You can see it now: backyard barbecues and pool parties with your loved ones; your 4-year-old son is really excited. Now, with this awesome pool comes a grave responsibility: don’t let junior drown. You explain to him the dangers of swimming alone, tell him never to go into the pool without super- vision, and buy the cool little oats to keep him from sinking. All of these are great ways to mitigate his risk of drowning, assuming that he listens to you. What if he’s playing around the pool and slips and falls in? What if he sneaks out of your sight for a moment and goes into the pool? It’s not unheard of for young, curious children to escape the confines of parental supervision and do things they aren’t supposed to do. So what do you do on top of setting simple ground rules? Teach him how to swim. He won’t be perfect over night, but the more time you invest in teaching him, the faster he’ll learn and the more comfortable he’ll get. Not only does this help him curb his fear of water and enhance his overall experience during pool time, but it also might keep him alive if he were to ever fall into water.

Your self-defense plan is no different. Just like with the swimming pool, I set basic ground rules to mitigate risk: don’t go to stupid places, with stupid people, to do stupid things. In other words, avoid bad areas and bad people. Don’t instigate arguments. If trouble is brewing, leave or attempt to deescalate. These are all great, but what happens when violence rears its ugly head anyway? You need to know how it works. So if you fear being face-to-face with an armed attacker, the best thing you can do is learn everything you can about that weapon. Learn how they work and how they fail. Complete avoidance is a fool’s errand. Learn to swim.

Be good, train hard, stay safe

-aaron