Friday, January 29, 2010

Fitness for Self Defense

Whether you buy pepper spray or just rely on your own body to survive a dangerous situation, a healthy, fit physique will help you survive and escape. It’s easy to get discouraged by the challenges of a fitness program, but you can prevail with self-discipline and a realistic look at your personality, lifestyle and goals.

If you’ve been burned by unsuccessful attempts to get fit in the past your first question might be, “If I buy stun guns or other self-defense products, doesn’t that take the place of the muscles I’d need to punch, kick and wrestle with an attacker?” No! A self defense product enhances your physical and mental attributes and can be an “equalizer” when you’re faces with a strong, aggressive attacker, but it doesn’t take the place of your personal attributes. The situation may call for direct body to body contact before you can apply something like a C2 Taser effectively.

Nevertheless, it’s easy to develop unrealistic expectations when it comes to physical fitness. Some of these come from martial arts myths, and others have to do with seeing ripped, powerful mixed martial arts fighters in the media. The worst thing you can do is try a fitness program for a month and give up because you don’t look like a UFC fighter, or you can’t do some fancy jumping kick. Your goal isn’t to be like some guy in the movies, or a professional fighter. It’s to simply improve your physical attributes so that you get a bit more fit every day, and to get used to physical discomfort and develop the mentality to prevail. Any improvement is good, and the healthy discomfort of a proper fitness program helps you develop mental toughness that applies in self-defense situations.

Let’s finish off with five tips for fitness and self-defense:

See a Doctor Before Starting an Exercise Program: Check with your physician before starting a new fitness regimen. Your specific medical condition influences how you should exercise.

Use Something You’ll Stick With as Your Fitness Backbone: Zero in on a physical activity you enjoy doing and can do regularly. For example, I love hiking and it’s a rare week where I don’t get out for a long walk. Even if other fitness programs don’t work out for you, your “backbone” is always there.

Don’t Believe That Strength Doesn’t Matter: One of the worst martial arts myths is that strength doesn’t matter if you know good self defense techniques. Whether you learn from a self defense instructor or buy a stun gun, self defense preparations make the most efficient, effective use of your strength – they don’t make strength irrelevant.

Concentrate on the Three Big Fitness Attributes: That’s physical strength, cardiovascular health and joint health. You need all three for best quality of life. Self defense encounters are usually brief and intense, so explosive, short term physical strength is probably the most important attribute, followed by enough cardio to breathe properly in an emergency and run away. Healthy, flexible joints prevent injury and keep you mobile.

Listen to Your Body: If you feel sharp pain or any “funny” feeling, ease off what you’re doing and talk to your doctor to avoid injury.

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