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Training Review: IRETC with 4TAC5, Chicago, IL, May 2018
In May of this year (2018), I travelled to Chicago to expand my skills in the field of Counter-custody and counter-kidnapping but attending the IRETC Instructor Certification with Karl from 4TAC5.
For the longest time I had been working towards attending the counter-custody instructor certification course with 4TAC5 – IRETC (International Restraint Escape Training Course). I had tried for months to connect with them and was planning to travel to their training base in England to attend it when I was referred to Aaron Cunningham of the ITTA (International Tactical Training Association) as they were going to be hosing IRETC in Chicago. As luck would have it this made things much more convenient and less expensive.
Upon arrival I made contact with Aaron and he picked me up from the airport. I treated him to breakfast for the courtesy. As I had only had communications with him through e-mail to that point it was good to finally put a face to the name and get to know him. After breakfast, Aaron and I took a little tour around Chicago (he showed me some of the sights and gave me some background to the respective history and current situations with specific neighbourhoods we were traversing) and then we did two more circles to the airport to pick up other attendees and finally to pick up our instructor, Karl, and make our way to the training facility and our lodgings.
There were 4 of us with Karl and Aaron. A small but diverse group of LEO/MIL personnel.
***I will not speak to the identities of the others in the training as they are currently operational with their respective security services, nor will I get into specifics of the training due to it’s nature. ***
Over that first evening we all had a chance to get to know one another and discuss the upcoming week of training. Admittedly, I was very excited to get the training started and build upon my existing skills.
The next day training started and we covered a LOT of ground. The content for day 1 was vaguely as follows:
Overview of material, counter-custody principles, kidnapping & hostage survival;
Detailed review of improvised restraints and manufactured restraints;
Improvised tools against restraints;
Mindset and tactics
I felt as if I’d been overloaded with information and it took me a while to process what I was learning. So much amazing stuff was coming to me – efficient and effective techniques and principles to put to use immediately. My hands and wrists were smashed and raw by the end of the day but it was well worth the pain to gain the knowledge and hands-on experience in a controlled environment where mistakes can be made and learning can occur. Very helpful when you get yourself in a pickle and need someone to cut you out so you can try again.
Day 2 was much the same in so far as having a firehose of info shot my way. After a great breakfast, we got fuelled up on coffee and a recap of the previous day’s material and dove right in.
Recap Day 1;
Tools, carry, concealment and deployment;
Handcuffs (various, identify, function, features)
More mindset and tactics;
Special tools (contents, function, use)
Anatomy of abduction and custody (phases, counter-intelligence, immediate actions)
Captivity & custody Exercise
Day 2 was a long day filled with more work, soreness and trial and error. However, the more exhaustively we practiced, the more confident I was with the little curve balls that were thrown our way and, with patience and focus, they could be overcome.
Day 2 dinner was another great time gelling with the group and expanding on the day’s lessons.
***BTW the food in Chicago was AWESOME!***
Day 3 was the Big Cahuna. Exercise after exercise after exercise, more scenarios and practice. Very involved to test our newly acquired skills and assure we’d assimilated the little tricks and remained focused on the task regardless of the negative stimulus applied. I found this culmination was a thorough test of my skills and my ability to apply them under stress and in unknown conditions.
As a finale to the week, Aaron arranged a tour of the Chicago Police Marine Unit (with associated boat ride and waterfront tour) and topped it off with a ride-along with the Chicago Police Aviation Unit aboard a CPD helicopter above downtown Chicago. And, as it was Tuesday, what better dinner to have than tacos? I guess you really haven’t lived till you’ve watch a White Sox game at Wrigley Field from a police helicopter. Karl and I had a blast. What a great night.
The following day included a debrief, discussions, clean-up and certification presentations. My trip to the airport was bitter-sweet. I had made some new friends, learned and experienced some top-tier training and was leaving a very Toronto-like city (minus the 14 people who were shot while I was there).
I extend my sincerest thanks to Aaron Cunningham and the ITTA for hosting the training and for their wonderful hospitality. True professionals doing a great job.
To Karl of 4TAC5, thank you for your knowledge, patience and great sense of humour during the week.
To the Chicago Police Marine and Aviation units – thank you for your hospitality and for the amazing ride-alongs. Stay safe out there!
And to my fellow attendees, thank you for the laughs and lessons. Stay safe in your respective areas of operation and keep in touch.
For those of you who are in Canada looking for counter-custody and hostage survival training, keep your eyes peeled for our offerings for both civilians and military/law enforcement (restricted content) or contact us directly for private training solutions for your group.
For more information on mentioned training and entities, see below and feel free to contact us.
When preparing to go (either to the airport, train/bus station sea port, etc – it applies to all equally), ensure you charge all of your devices and that you have the appropriate connectors and adaptors for the region in which you will be travelling.
Take an empty water bottle and some snacks with you so that you can refill it post-security and always have a drink. You never know when you may be delayed and airports are notoriously expensive.
At the airport, keep your passport and ticket/boarding pass hidden to avoid people targeting you and gleaning information about you and your travel. As you walk through the airport, keep an eye open for places of cover should an attack occur. Columns and pillars, concrete planters, walls and corners as well as exit stairwells can offer ballistic protection. Try to stay away from public-side-facing windows.
As a general rule, try to pack for quick and easy movement. Travel light and fast. I avoid checking a bag if I can which enables easier movement and less of a chance of lost luggage. Stick with low-profile, non-tactical-looking luggage and bags. The only downside is that if you’re travelling with items prohibited from going in the cabin of the plane, you’ll be forced to check a bag. DO NOT try to sneak anything through security as it’ll either be seized (best case) or you’ll end up arrested (worse) depending on the local laws.
Here’s another tip: DON’T AGREE TO TAKE SOMEONE ELSE’S BAGS FOR THEM! It doesn’t matter if it’s an old lady, a “man of the cloth” or a child “travelling alone”. Carry only your bags, keep a vigilant watch over them at ALL times, don’t leave them unattended and say no to anyone asking you to carry something for them.
If you find yourself waiting on the public side of an airport or rail terminal, keep your eyes open for suspicious activity. Set yourself up where you have a good vantage point and no one behind you, close to cover. If you observe someone suddenly get up and walks away from a bag or parcel, quickly find cover and tell security services. If you leave your bags unattended, you risk losing them to security.
While travelling, do your best to be aware of the local news and goings-on. This can give you a feel for the local environment in which you find yourself and to possibly give you a heads-up in case of impending bad weather, criminal threats or civil unrest.
ALWAYS secure your passport. It is the most important item you have when travelling abroad. And depending on the country of issue, it can be worth upwards of $50k on the black market.
When you arrive to your destination and have cleared customs/immigration, you can then “tool up” with any gear you have legally transported or acquire locally-sourced tools.
Do your best to blend in with the local population. Look at online photos of locals and get a sense for what they wear and how they go about their days. Consider stopping by a local store to purchase similar clothing to wear while you’re “in country” and then leave them behind when returning home. With this method, you are essentially renting a “persona”and will bring down your visibility as a tourist to some degree. Leave your “5.11 Tuxedo” at home and get something local instead. Oakleys, Salomons and 5.11 pants and shirt that all say “covert” are usually anything but.
If you’re in a situation where no amount of “low-key” will do it (such as travelling with your family or in a group) do the best you can and always remain polite. A smile and a kind word can go a long way in the right context. With this in mind, don’t discuss your personal life with strangers. You don’t know who they are or how they could use that information against you. Steer your conversations about their home country under the auspices of learning more about them.
When travelling to and from your accommodations (or any base), vary your route and timings and maintain your situational awareness at all times so that you’re not being observed or followed.
When moving around, don’t carry all of your cash in the same place on your person. Break it up across your pockets, decoy wallet and other stashes. Use credit cards when you can to reduce the visibility of cash.
When on the ground, take a few mins to orientate yourself to the area using your maps and the local geography. Look for common landmarks and pay attention while being transported from the airport.
When you’re first able, make contact and touch base with the folks back home to give them a status report that you’ve landed and what your situation is. This allows those back home to have a time marker as to when was the last contact they had with you, where you were and what you were doing should something happen.
Beware of situations where you are consuming alcohol or drugs (say no to drugs, even if the jerk-off on the beach tells you it’s completely legal, you have no idea what is in it and if you’re being set-up) in the company of those who you do not trust completely. Also, try and stick to bottles and cans instead of drinks mixed out of view, lest someone spike it. And never leave your drink unattended or unobserved.
**The video below shows exactly how easy it is to have your drink spiked**
While travelling around, try to use ride-sharing services like Uber of Lyft over taxis as they are more reliable with better kept records of your trips. You’re also less likely to be robbed (as you don’t require cash to take a ride with them) and if something goes wrong, the driver, car and trip details are all stored with you and the company. If taxis are your only option, prior to getting in, ask for how much it would cost and take a look inside to ensure all looks legit and there are door handles in back. Either way, ALWAYS have a method of escape (some form of window breaker) to get out should something go sideways.
On the more likely side, you’re also more likely to be the victim of “tourist pricing” when arranging rides. For example, a local taking a taxi may only get charged $4 whereas a tourist will get charged $40 for the same ride.
Change money in banks or approved locations with security, not back alley “cambios” where you might get mugged after people know you have cash.
When buying supplies in local stores, keep an eye on the price tags that are on articles and ask what currency they represent. And if they start taking prices off articles as they “ring them in”, you’re being scammed. They’ll present you with a price which you won’t be able to recall and you’ll be left wondering what happened. You’re better served to walk away and try elsewhere unless you’re really in a jam.
When checking into your accommodations, ensure that the bellhop goes in first, and that the lights are on. Check every nook and crannyImmediately ensure that the doors and locks are all in working order and use a door wedge to secure the door once you’re alone and have engaged all of the locks. Draw the curtains and turn on the tv when you’re not in your room and hang the Do Not Disturb sign on the knob.
In respect to OPSEC (OPerational SECurity), ensure that you aren’t posting too much on social media which can identify things like your room, locations you’re visiting and valuables you may have on you. Post after you’ve returned or at least left the location.
In the event of a disaster or large-scale event, make your way by whatever means necessary to the Canadian (in my case) or alternately, to an allied nation’s embassy for protection and support. The United States, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand or another Commonwealth country will support you when carrying a Canadian passport.
Situational awareness, pre-planning, having local currency (and knowing the exchange rate) and a resilient mindset will help deal with most problems you would encounter on your travels. Travel light, travel low-profile and arm yourself with as much knowledge about the area you’ll be in. Remember, low-profile equals a difficult target.
If you plan well, you have better chances of travelling well. It’s that simple.
Every time I travel, whether it’s for an overnight or for a sustained travel period, I got through several pre-travel stages of planning. I have found that this both allows for maximum comfort and enjoyment while travelling and mitigates any fuck-ups while away and on one’s own (or with your family without the security net of home).
Once it’s been determined what the circumstances of travel will be (destination, duration, dates of travel, airline, time of travel and reasons for travel) I begin systematic long-distance reconnaissance of my trip in an attempt to learn everything I can about my time away from my home base.
Destination: I first identify where I am flying in to (on a map) and where I will be staying and/or working. I ensure I have a solid understanding of the geography and routes in and out of those specific points, and mark them on a map. I will also identify my lodgings, airports, homeland allied embassies or consulates, nearby hospitals/clinics, police stations and possible hazards (like power plants, military bases, volcanos, etc). When I’ve oriented myself according to prominent features, I’ll have a general understanding of where important points are.
Dates of Travel: What I bring and how I will travel is dependent not only on the purpose of travel, but also the climate and weather of my home base and destination. If it’s winter at home but warmer at my destination, may need to pack a different spread of clothes (winter and warmer) and have to wear while travelling and while away. If both areas are similar, then a single and consistent set of clothes works.
Duration: I usually do everything I can to travel with carry-on only. Checked luggage slows you down (having to wait for your bags to be off-loaded) as well as making it more cumbersome to move about. Pack light, in a 2-3 tiered system while travelling, like an EDC (Every Day Carry) set-up (more on this in a bit). If you are travelling for an extended period of time, pack accordingly, but consider ditching most toiletries and possible consumables at home and buying what you need for your stay once you arrive in-country. That way you will be better prepared with locally acquired supplies and you won’t over pack.
Packing: Like I mentioned in the previous point, I try to travel light and buy consumables (like regular toiletries, additional supplies, maybe even tools) locally when I arrive. I also believe in packing light and smart, the latter allowing you to maximize a few wardrobe pieces across many days and environments. I prefer clothes I can wash by hand in a hotel sink and have it ready the following morning to go. This includes socks and underwear. Buying some quality pieces of versatile clothing is key in your planning cycle. Also, packing light allows you to augment your clothing with locally procured clothes to better blend in with the local populace. This is especially important if you are trying to keep a lower profile while in a foreign land. As an additional to my packing, I try and pack in the following way to support a level of preparedness should some unforeseen issue arise so that I can have a better chance of dealing with it.
This list includes a tiered approach to carriage of what I am taking with me.
(NOTE: This is a recommended list and is not definitive. Pack according to your own requirements, but aim to pack light and with room to spare for souvenirs or other goodies you acquire on your travels.)
On my person ( and in my pockets and otherwise on me AT ALL TIMES include (but aren’t limited to):
Credit cards and CASH (cash is KING – be sure to have US dollars and try to get local currency you’ll be travelling in as soon as possible.)
Charged cell phone with charging cable and adapter plug.
Small EDC flashlight
Small Bic lighter
Small key ring with house key, Tactikey, 1-2 key tools and small lock pick keychain, encrypted USB key (with .
Wallet & decoy wallet (with minimal cash, used for visible purchases at shops for snacks, taxis, etc.
Hat (type dependent on weather)
Small, TSA-approved multi-tool (no knife).
Other items of use (depending on climate & other circumstances).
Bottle of water (empty while going through security, refilled in sterile area)
Photocopies of all my documents and credit cards, emergency contact info for friends and family back home and consular resources while in-country, general map of the area I’ll be staying in (detailing safe zones and escape routes) and copy of my plane tickets.
Sunglasses (and back-up pair of glasses or contacts if you wear them)
Several pens (both Bic and Zebra brands – none of that Tactical pen stuff) and a notepad
True North Tradecraft stickers, patches and business cards (to spread the Good Word).
Pack of gum
Sweater with waterproof shell jacket (either worn by me or in my backpack (next tier).
Pants and appropriate belt
The above items will support me if forced to deplane ANYWHERE and should be able to affect a return to safety. Of course, everything depends on the situation, but having those as a minimum greatly increases my odds of making it to a better place.
As a second tier, that which should go in my “personal item” (i.e. my small backpack), I load the following. (Note, this tier is what I will grab if I have the opportunity and will have to live out of it. It has next-level important stuff. With these items, I can travel for a long time.
Laptop (plus charger, cables, adapter, USB drives, etc)
Change of socks, underwear and extra t-shirt or long-sleeved shirt (or both, if needed).
Copies of all documents and information (just like the set I have on me.
Back-up tools including everything I already have on my person.
Some snacks for the trip
Pens, notebook (double-up as on my person)
Local map, guidebook/phrasebook (if needed).
Books to read (1-2)
First-aid kit (including medications and tourniquet if possible)
Minimalist toiletries (toothbrush, mini toothpaste, mini deodorant, mini hand sanitizer, package of wet wipes, etc.)
A couple of carabiners (climbing quality), a length of paracord, a padlock
With the backpack, and what I have on me, I have moved myself into the zone of “minimalist backpacker” and should be able, with augmented goods procured locally, to sustain myself until I either depart or until I can get help.
Lastly, my carry-on luggage. Stored in the over-head bin, this should round out whatever I need for a comfortable vacation or trip just about anywhere. As it stands now, the list below is what I will likely pack for my next trip.
A rubber door wedge (for securing a hotel room)
Mouse trap (seek out Ed Calderon for more info on this)
2 x underwear
long-sleeved travel shirt & t-shirt
Toiletry kit (expanding on what I have in backpack – Polysporin, sun block, aloe gel, pain meds, Immodium, Gravol, wet wipes, etc)
Extra First Aid Kit supplies
Hank of paracord
2 more carabiners (climbing quality)
Mask, snorkel, fins
GoPro camera and accessories (cables, charger, SD cards, wall adapter, small power bar).
Additional book to read
Tradecraft tools (dependent on circumstances)
Folding & reusable shopping bag (fits in pocket when out walking).
Another copy of documents and emergency contact info, plane tickets, maps and local information
Additional cash, hidden away somewhere.
Air travel-friendly multi-tool
Any other item I think is specifically needed for the trip (clothing, supply, tool, etc).
With the above list of items, and pre-planning taken care of, I feel pretty secure with myself. Adding to this all, maintaining vigilance and situational awareness wherever you go if of paramount importance.
It’s important to ensure that you maintain situational awareness at all times. To read a bit more about this check out the Primer blog post here.
Before I travel, I try to learn all that I can about the area where I will be. I study things like currency, demographics, history, local customs, geography, political and social issues to be aware of, crime and attitudes towards tourists & foreigners. I also try to read up on things like transportation (what’s legit versus scam), local news stories and how to identify legitimate authorities. If I am able, I Google Maps/Earth my accommodations and nearby areas so I can landmark in my mind what it looks like where I should be.
Customs & Immigration agency website for Canada ( CBSA – Canada Border Services Agency ) and for the country (or countries) you’ll be visiting. This will inform you on border-related laws, requirements, processes and exemptions.
Trip Advisor (Access reviews, tips and local information for destinations around the world.)
If flying, be sure to have access to both the website of your airline and the airport you are travelling to & from to ensure accurate scheduling information.
Wikipedia – If you want to know something about your destination, read about it here.
Google is your friend. Use it to learn as much as you can.
Before you go, ensure you leave copies of all your important documents, passports, travel itineraries, destination addresses and contact info with someone you trust and whom can support you in a return home should something happen.
On the weekend of 28-29-30 July, 2017, True North Tradecraft hosted the first-ever offering of The CORE Group’s Covert Entry Concepts course in Toronto. We had 9 students, an excellent venue, great food and of course, fantastic training. (To read my review of the course I attended in Maryland, click here.)
Friday evening saw the group meet up, make introductions and immerse themselves in Street Thief, a mockumentary based on a thief. Though not “real”, it did accurately illustrate how an actual thief does what they do, ideas for protecting against such things and using the same methodologies in conducting security assessments and Red Team-type attacks. That, coupled with some yummy pizza (no Hawaiian, you’re welcome Rob) made for a good evening.
Starting bright and early on Saturday morning, we hit the ground running getting into the principles of physical security, locking mechanisms and the basics of attacking them. This was framed within the construct of proper evaluation and approach vectors for attack and assessment.
Thanks to The Lucky Penny for providing scrumptious snacks and endless coffee to get us started and keep us going.
The entire day was fast and furious. We hit on a vast breadth of topics and brought it all to practice very quickly. The students were introduced to various locks and their corresponding pick and bypass tools.
Wafer locks, pin & tumbler, dead bolts, combination locks, padlocks, warded locks, etc. The pace was fast but students picked-up the skills quickly and began to progress through to more difficult locks. After everyone felt they were getting the hang of it, we moved right into impressioning and key casting.
Saturday had some tasty lunch too…
The rest of the day was spent discussing elevators and their uses in Red Team operations and physical security, safes and other miscellaneous related content.
We finished off the evening as a group at a fantastic nearby Mexican restaurant where the food was excellent and the tequila and mojitos flowed.
Sunday, though rough for some more than others, continued the same high tempo. We dove right into more elevator stuff and more impressioning challenges.
One challenge was who could impression a key properly before anyone else.
The second was the T-Rex Challenge. Picking a lock while a electronic muscle stimulator is hooked-up to one’s forearms. It’s a laugh for all.
That winners of each challenge got some stuff from our friends at Delta 2 Alpha Design (The Lolly and The Mark, and stickers, each.)
After we all stopped laughing and got feeling back in our arms, we carried on to lock bypassing, familiarization with various tools and techniques associated with it and giving them a trial run.
We then transitioned to removing/replacing tamper-evident seals. A very delicate operation to say the least, this portion of the day was slow-going and painstakingly irritating when impatience wrecked it all. That said, it was very interesting in its method and application. We also discussed security posturing, use, strength and limitations of seals and tamper-evident devices along with best practices.
To round out the weekend, we finished on a high note with restraint escapes. Dealing in escaping unlawful custody while restrained by handcuffs, nylon zip ties, duct tape and cord. The more you know, the better prepared you will be.
One of the most important parts of the learning was the manner in which it was delivered. Rob’s easy-going and humorous nature, coupled with his expansive knowledge and professionalism made for a relaxed yet powerful learning environment. He is an exemplary instructor and trainer and is so giving of himself and his knowledge. That and he couldn’t get over how no one carried guns. Yay Canada. It all makes a huge positive difference.
As with all experiences of this kind, there was so much more we covered and were exposed to that it simply wouldn’t do it justice to speak to here. There is only so much you can read about or learn from on YouTube before you hit a wall. Well-delivered, quality, in-person training has no substitute. I recommend this training to anyone interested in these skills. In the end, an excellent group made an excellent class. Congratulations to all.
We are excited about how everything went that we are already planning our next offering. Keep tuned to the Blog (and Instagram and Facebook) for more details.
Thank you to Rob and to all others who helped make this happen and make it great (See below) and thank you to all who attended.
No matter how good you are, how skilled, how knowledgeable, at some point you will reach an obstacle you will need help with. This applies to survival, escape and evasion, operations and regular day-to-day life. Sure, your skills and know.how can take you far, but to truly excel, you need a TEAM. A community.
Special Forces operators and secret agents are all incredible individuals, trained to exceptional levels of skill and fitness. But what makes them truly formidable is their ability to leverage all of those strengths to super-humal-like heights to seemingly perform the impossible. That level of mutual support, leveraging of skill-sets and strength in numbers can achieve feats that no individual ever could.
Some of the best “team” shows do this very well. One of my favourites, Burn Notice, for instance, has 3 main characters – Michael (the burned ex-spy), Fiona (Michael’s ex-girlfriend and IRA operative) and Sam (ex-Navy SEAL). By themselves, they are all formidable, capable and able. But when one of them finds themselves in a jam, the other two are able to support the operation in ways that the solo member just couldn’t handle themselves. The show The A Team also does a great job of this in using the team members’ individual skills to achieve the team goal with great efficacy.
This translates to life as well. Regardless if you’re trying to learn something, build a business from scratch in your basement, whether a disaster or start a blog, you’ll only get so far by yourself. Sure, you can learn everything about wilderness survival, but if you fall and break your leg, you will have no one to help you.
In building Tactical Beaver and True North Tradecraft, I have learned more and more that although personal skillets, perseverance, drive, sacrifice, dedication and a bit of luck will do wonders for growing a project, it’s the people you meet and connect with – the ones you build a COMMUNITY with – that will ensure your success in the long run. I am thus very humbled and privileged to continue building our community of amazing people who are all “lone wolves” in their specific ventures, but together we all succeed.
Below, I have listed some of those community partners. It is because of them, and many individuals, that we have been able to grow.
That is the power of team. No individual could have gotten Bin Laden, or Hussein on their own. It was a team effort. There are always exceptions to the rule, but by and large, teams can accomplish feats unattainable by an individual.
So whatever the task, challenge or obstacle, do your best by yourself, learn and train and be the best you can be, and then find a group of like-people. Then become a team. Then you’ll be unstoppable.
A topic I tend not to hear or read about very much is the fitness in every-day preparedness. Sure, there are plenty of opinions on gear to carry, the kinds of shoes you should wear, the emergency kit in your car, etc…, but how often if physical fitness mentioned as a component of your preparedness? Not much, sadly.
As we go through our daily lives, 99% of it isn’t a high-stress, threatening situation. Maybe we work out or go to the gym, but we’re not threatened.
If we find ourselves in a survival situation, be it a physical attack, a disaster requiring us to get out of an area, a broken-down car or anything similar, your chances of successfully negotiating that event are raised directly in proportion with your level of fitness. The right gear and training are also factors, of course, but if your body is conditioned you stand a better chance. Here’s why:
A survival event demands extreme resources from your body. You may be required to fight off an attacker, or run/climb/drag someone/thing intensely for a period of time. How long you’re able to last in that, or how much you can lift may directly impact who you save. Including yourself or a loved one. If you can’t do a pull-up, you may not be able to pull yourself out of a window in a burning building.
A fit body equals a fit mind. Psychologically, if your body is in-shape, your mind will be better able to focus and adapt during a high-stress event.
Staying power. As you call your muscles into action to “fight or flight”, you will have a flush of adrenaline and lactic acid in your muscles. It will also metabolize and work off adrenaline and lactic acid buildup created in that process. If you’ve ever gone 100% in a fight or even on a punching bag, you’d know that that level of exertion is brutal even for one minute. If you’re not sucking wind after 1 minute, you’re doing it wrong. But if you build up your muscular and cardiovascular endurance through regular training, you’ll be better able to recover more quickly.
You can do more. Being fit allows you the capability to do more. Sure, you may have all manner of skills in fighting, but someone with an equal level of skill but higher level of fitness will likely defeat you. Strength, as well as skill, combine to the application of technique against an opponent. If you’re weak, or overweight, you likely won’t be as agile to get out of a bad situation. Your EDC (Every-Day Carry) equipment won’t lift you over a fence when thugs are chasing you.
Ask yourself this: if you had to, can you pick up your 70lb child and run away from a riot or terrorist attack, or would you have a heart attack in the attempt? I look at worst-case scenarios and work towards being able to address them. I am by no means a Special Forces Operator, nor do I pretend to be, but I do exercise regularly and aim to be prepared for things going south. What is the likelihood of something happening: very low. Impact if it does and I’m unable to do anything about it: very high.
So how does one develop their physical fitness? Here are some ideas:
Start small & simple. Start walking, or jogging. Biking, swimming. Whatever. Push-ups, squats, sit-ups, chin-ups. Get out there and start. Movement is life. If you find yourself in an Active Shooter situation and you just stand there, you are an easy target.
Look into joining a class or a gym. If you’re short on cash, look up body-weight and yoga videos online for free and do them in your home. It only costs you time and effort.
Change your eating habits if they need it. High levels of processed sugars and foods aren’t helping you. Change it up and and just your diet to something better. Small adjustments can yield large improvements.
Get motivated. Set small goals and accomplish them. Work towards each one until you achieve it and then set the next one. We are all motivated by different things, so find what works and “git ‘er done”.
Ask for help. If you’re completely lost and don’t know where to turn, ask for advice. I have found that the vast majority of people who are fitness enthusiasts didn’t start out as athletic. Many worked hard to get there and are happy to offer help or advice and cheer you on.
You can do it. I have seen wounded Veterans without legs, without arms and sometimes both, continue to push themselves and achieve. If they can, then holy shit, so can the rest of us. Stay positive. Stay focused.
***Naturally if you’re not fit the only way to increase fitness is to begin exercising…but always consult a doctor or health professional prior to starting, especially if you have any health concerns.***
We all have our various levels and goals, and no two people are the same. The crux of the argument here is that you are constantly trying to improve. Various body types, health issues, etc, sometimes restrict what can be done, but with a positive attitude, setting of goals and the effort to improve, gains can be made in leaps and bounds. Don’t be afraid to try and fail, keep trying. Ask for help. Its about self-improvement as much as it is personal survival. You don’t have to be a fitness model, or even look like one, but building in a level of fitness training into your preparedness mindset and arsenal will greatly increase your confidence and capability when dealing with a hostile event.
The side benefits also include better sleep, lower levels of stress, less pain, more flexibility and agility. Higher levels of endurance and a heightened level of calm and confidence. You’ll also be able to enjoy more adventurous experiences. Just, saying.
Remember that a good level of physical fitness will never be a negative or work against you, it will only ever be a positive.