Originally published in August, 2016.
There are a couple of things to know when it comes to physical fitness with regard to its role in self-defense, performance in combat, and the ability to make good decisions in exigent circumstances. Matt Graham calls Aa lethal force encounter “your event.” Not an Olympic event, but your event — an encounter with a carjacker, someone robbing your house, whatever.
The two things to know are:
1. Physical fitness is directly related to your ability to maintain mental acuity under stress and to prevail in a fight; and
2. physical fitness is almost always the lowest priority when it comes to the average person’s training regimen. Assuming they have a regimen.
Q: “Hey dude! Wanna hit the range on Sunday instead of wasting your time on the golf course?” A: “Sure man! Let’s do it!”
Q: “Hey man, want to ruck around the neighborhood with me or just go for a run?” A: “Hell no dude, I’m a fucking Joe Bag of Donuts who can’t run a hundred meters and still hit shoot accurately past the 3 yard line. While intellectually I understand my lack of circulo-respiratory endurance and general fatass inability to exert myself for more than a few moments would severely degrade my ability to defend myself or my family, I find it much easier to talk about EDC gear and post pictures of my sweet Glock on Instagram than put forth any effort to stop looking like a duffel bag. Sure, I’m aware a higher level of physical fitness and stamina can impact everything from my mood to how much blood I could lose and still function if someone shoots or stabs me, but really, what is the likelihood of having to defend myself actively enough to warrant all that effort? I’d rather post cool memes about preparedness, the Second Amendment, and situational awareness than change the fact that I’m a sedentary softbody . Let’s grab some Zebra Cakes and Cokes and go to the range.”
The answer to the second question may be a little overdone, but you get our point.
We’re not suggesting you need to have an Olympian’s level of fitness. Some of our minions would rather back their car down their driveway to check the mail than walk, much less run anywhere. We get it. But we’re just saying it might be worth it to examine how much of your time and effort goes into physical conditioning vs. skills training, or whatever it is you do.
In order to show you just how wonderful physical fitness can be in certain situations, we are sharing images of some astonishing female athletes, as well as some of their commentary. They’re from a series called Athlete’s Life on the ESPN website, and we’d like to make something clear — as much we enjoy looking at these pictures, we also recognize the immense effort and dedication that went into achieving what they’ve achieved.
So, anyway, you’re welcome. Now read this, then get off your ass.
Elena Delle Donne
“Your mind always goes before your body. So if you can push your mind to go a little bit further, your body always will go with you.” Basketball Player Elena Delle Donne
Photo: From “The Toll of Basketball” by Carlos Serrao for ESPN
“…it’s about technique. It’s skill, strength, power and executing that in a very precise way.” Wrestler Adeline Gray.
Photo: “Far from a Rookie” by Peter Hapak for ESPN.
“I’m fighting for more than just a medal. I’m fighting for my family, I’m fighting for my future, I’m fighting for my city — to get them some hope and faith, because it’s so bad in Flint. I always fight harder than I would if I were fighting for just a medal.” Boxer Claressa Shields
Photo: First American female boxer to win gold by Simon McDermott-Johnson for ESPN
“I was told I would be lucky if I walked unaided again. I was in the hospital and I was telling everybody that I had collegiate nationals in April — this was in August — and they were like, “Whoa, you’ve got to walk first.” There was a significant amount of pushback and hesitation from my doctors, nurses and physical therapists. I would have to say I don’t think anyone was on board. I remember the nurses and physical therapists were betting that if I ever walked again, they would do a triathlon. So I just set out to prove them wrong.” Paralympian Triathlete Allysa Seely
Photo: From Navigating the Journey, by Joe Pugliese for ESPN
“You can ask anyone that I’ve ever played with or talked to, I’m an obsessive shooter. I go out and shoot all the time. I used to take 200 shots every single day — it’s something that I started with my mom. In the Pele videos I would watch, he used to line up 10 balls and shoot them in a row — so I did that exercise all the way through college. Thankfully, I always had help getting those balls back; I’d come out with my sisters and my mom and my dad and they would always help me shag balls. I can only remember a handful of times when they didn’t — and let me tell you, you spend probably an hour and a half to do it, and 65 minutes is spent shagging the balls. Just like everything else in life, it’s better to do it with company.” Soccer Player Christen Press
Photo by Carlos Serrao for ESPN.
“I talk to myself a lot when I’m fencing, to be confident, to be strong, just giving myself encouragement…work on avoiding thoughts that make you hesitate.”Fencer Nzingha Prescod
Photo: “Sticking Out” by Peter Hapak for ESPN
“Find focus. I literally block everything out. When I was competing in London during the beam final, there were thousands of screaming people in the stands, but the only voice I could hear was McKayla Maroney — I was listening to her and she was talking me through the beam routine the whole time. I can block out everyone’s voice except for my coaches, Marta Karolyi and my teammates. … It makes me feel more comfortable when I can hear their voices.” Gymnast Aly Raisman
(Unknown photo credit, courtesy ESPN.)
One of the reasons I work so hard in the gym is because I believe, knock on wood, that it’s kept me healthy up until this point in my career. I’ve played volleyball since I was 13 — more than 20 years. And I feel better right now than I have ever felt. Volleyball Player April Ross
Photo: “Making a statement, by Williams and Hirakawa for ESPN
“I don’t take a day off; I probably run nine times a week. I find that the best way to connect with people is to run with them. I have someone that I’m running with at least eight of those nine runs a week, if not nine of nine, so it’s a great time to catch up with friends. My training partners are my friends.” Steeplechase Runner Emma Coburn
Photo: from Snow and Skin by Marcus Eriksson for ESPN.