Dangerous On Demand: Getting Physical

Nov 26, 2018Latest, Stronghold

Picture this scenario: You and your bride are enjoying a rare night out.

You are celebrating many years as Husband and Wife. She looks beautiful. You had dinner, and you took in a show, a musical that your wife had been wanting to see. Such a wonderful evening. Now you are walking back to your car, your arm around her waist. Just a couple more blocks to the car, and you will drive home, pay the sitter, and resume your normal life.

Up ahead, you notice three men. What you noticed first was the loud, profane language. “Likely drunk or well-on-the-way”, you think. You decide to cross the street. They see you, and cross as well. “Not good”, you mutter, loud enough for your wife to hear. Now the “cat-calls” start. You walk faster. They run, and before you know it, the three are standing in front of you, menacing you, eyeing your wife. You know instinctively that they don’t want your wallet. No, these fellas only want trouble. What do you do?

The simple answer is, you fight. You fight with everything that you have.

Maybe you have a firearm. Maybe you don’t.

Maybe you have some other defensive tool, such as a tactical pen, or a knife, pepper spray. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you have all of these, but you know these guys can be on you before you can employ them.

Maybe all you have are your hands, feet, knees, fingers, elbows and a thick skull. Yes, you have these.

You always have these, but can you use them? More importantly, can you use them effectively?

Do you possess the skills and understanding of the mechanics and physics of striking and grappling? Do you have a sense for the different ranges in which physical confrontations occur, and the threats and options available for each? Can you manage the “adrenaline dump” which increases your strength, but diminishes your coordination? When is the last time you’ve been hit or kicked by an adult male? Do you have a strategy for dealing with multiple attackers? How long can you go in a fight, before you are “spent”, “gassed”, physically exhausted?

Authentic Men Train In Martial Arts

I’m not writing this for the “Spartans” out there, those warriors by profession, those called to be “always dangerous”. Training in combatives is part of their respective professions. I am writing this for the “Athenians” who read AM. Those butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers who need to be “dangerous on demand”.

The best answers to the questions asked above, can be found in the dedicated study of one or more of the many forms of martial arts available, today. Let me get this out of the way early: All forms of martial arts, be they traditional or modern, are useful to self-defense, because you are far more likely to encounter someone with little more than “street fighting” experience, than you are to face a trained opponent. Any “style” is superior to “none”, and no single style is the answer for all threats. The long list of styles included in the broad category of “Martial Arts” include Boxing, Wrestling, Kick-boxing, Judo, Jujitsu, Sambo, Capoeira, Taekwondo, Kung-Fu, Aikido, Hapkido, Krav Maga, Systema, etc.

What these styles have in common is that the objective is to apply a set of learned techniques, against one or more humans. All martial arts include both offensive and defensive techniques, but some emphasis one more than the other. Some focus primarily on striking, and blocking, while others on grappling and submissions. Some emphasize joint manipulation, while others work throws and sweeps. Some only train “soft” or less-than-lethal techniques, while others cover the full-spectrum of lethality. Some forms require a great deal of strength and athleticism, while others less-so. Some can be learned rather quickly, while others take a lifetime to master. Some forms focus more on the sporting aspects of the art. Western “traditional” boxing, Judo and Greco-Roman wrestling are examples of “sporting arts”. Some forms, such as Kali, Bataireacht and Kendo center on the use of weapons. Other forms, such as Krav Maga and Russian Systema, were developed solely for combative purposes. Still, a trained boxer, judoko, or competitive wrestler possesses skills that are quite useful in a physical confrontation, and those who have mastered the use of weapons understand the dynamics of facing an armed adversary.

Authentic Men Want To Be Effective Protectors

Time for some honest self-examination. When was the last time you had to throw a punch? Was it on the school yard, many years ago? When was the last time that you took a punch? Same school yard encounter? When was the last time you experienced an “adrenaline dump”? Was it when you almost rear-ended that car that suddenly stopped in front of you, or when your child almost darted into traffic? When was the last time you trained in combatives? Was it during “boot camp”, thirty years ago? Was it at that Karate class you begged your parents to sign you up for when you were twelve, and in which you lost interest at about the same time you discovered that girls are kinda nice? Maybe you wrestled in high school. When’s the last time that you locked up with an opponent? We live in a relatively civil society, where fighting is discouraged. As Authentic Men, we tend not to frequent places where fights are a regular occurrence. We practice self-control, so every inconsiderate act we experience from others isn’t responded to with physical violence. We are respectful and tend not to raise the ire of other reasonable people. Maybe we were long-ago members of the military, or maybe we returned to civilian life just recently, but our energies have been spent on reestablishing ourselves. Maybe you’ve just been fortunate, and the odds have been in your favor.

The truth is, for whatever reason, most of us have never been in a real physical confrontation. Only a small percentage of us have received any combatives training. Odds are that the hot-head that wants to beat you up over some perceived slight hasn’t received any training either, but that doesn’t stop him from believing that because he is male, he is a masterful fighter. Yes, men are naturally aggressive, but there is a huge difference between aggressiveness, and effectiveness.

Maybe the odds of your having to go “mano y mano” anytime soon are low, but please consider this: Men weigh the odds. Authentic men consider the stakes.

What Is the Hardest Martial Art To Learn?

This is a question I get asked, a lot [to read more on this topic, click here: What is the Hardest Martial Art to Learn?]. I am a martial arts student, not an expert. I have limited experience in a few styles, and absolutely no experience in others. However, my non-expert answer is the hardest one to learn is the one that doesn’t fit your needs, the one for which you lack passion, or a combination of both. I would recommend asking yourself a few questions regarding what you hope to achieve by studying martial arts, consider what training is available to you, what physical limitations you might have, and which forms capture your fascination. Then try one. If after a reasonable amount of time you feel that the style you’ve chosen isn’t a good fit, try a different one. Maybe you like the style, but for whatever reason the school or the instructor isn’t a good fit. Try a different one. The important part is to seek instruction from a qualified teacher. More on this in future articles on this subject.

Instruction vs. Training: A Distinction With A Difference

So you’ve heeded the call, taken the plunge, and now you are a “student of the fist”. Great. You go to your classes, learn new techniques, maybe spar a bit with a partner. You bow-out, pack your gear, and what? Is next class the next time you apply that which you have just learned?

Instruction is receiving new knowledge and skills from a qualified teacher. Training is actively applying this knowledge and skill, until proficiency is achieved. For me, class-time is for learning. I train in between classes. I train seven days a week, at home. Physical conditioning, agility, strength, precision, speed, coordination… my workout regimen is designed to make me a better martial artist.

Shadow boxing in front of a mirror, working a slip-rope, striking a heavy bag, ground bag, or double-end bag. Skipping rope, foot-work drills with cones, every day I train. Maybe you are a runner, or cyclist, weightlifter or Cross-fitter. Each of these will make you a better martial arts student, but nothing is better than training like an actual fighter, to make you a better fighter.


Getting back to the hypothetical scenario above, you are facing three adult male humans, looking for trouble. Unless you and your bride are world class sprinters, running is not the best option. Dialing 9-11 isn’t the best immediate option either. The only thing standing between them and your wife, is you. You must fight. No doubt, you will fight with everything you have, because the odds arrayed against you matter little, when the stakes is standing right beside you. If you are called to be “dangerous on demand”, be as dangerous as you can possibly be by having the ability to meet violence with overwhelming counter-violence.

Next Time:

Why I Study Krav Maga and Kick-Boxing

Steve Thomas

Steve Thomas



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