Authentic Stronghold

US Marine Reveals The Secret to Confronting and Winning in a Violent Situation


Dear Brendan,

I’m going to focus now on the crucial importance of mindset.  There are two parts to being combat effective: physical and mental, but mental is both emotional and psychological. You must bring both together to win the fight.

I’ve been studying and training since I was in grade school and I have always been motivated to fight the good fight. I do still believe all those bumper sticker sayings.  We should protect our loved ones. We should fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.  I wrote last time about bullying in our schools and self-protection for our children.  Well, bullies inspired me to develop a functional form of self-protection. It can be learned by anyone, and can be used at night in a parking lot if needed.

My life experiences have taught me many lessons.  One is that there is both good and evil in our world.  I firmly believe what Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.  I do believe we have a moral and ethical obligation to stand and fight for what is good in our world.  On my journey I have continued to train and learn. My goal is to become a warrior athlete and to grow as much as I can as a man, son, father and friend.

I’ve been lucky enough to work and train with the best people in the world from many combat cultures. Those cultures include martial arts, close quarter combat and other tradecraft. It has all helped honed many skill sets.  Every person, every experience, good and bad, has taught me something. Here’s the harsh truth and here’s the Bottom Line Up Front:

“The truest measure of competition is not in the stadium. The truest measure of competition is on the battlefield. The fiercest competitors face off with their lives on the line, and the winners simply are able to survive the encounter. The fact of the matter is that in war your every moment of hesitation, move, strength, and weaknesses will weigh on your survival. The terrifying and unsaid truth is that even if you do everything right, you can still die. In virtually no other sport is this true.”

So what does this teach us?

In a physical sense the combatant who hits first and keeps constant offensive pressure on until he takes the other guy out has the highest chance of winning. As long as you can bring significant impact, strength and power and employ it with attitude, focus and determination, you control that fight.  This should be a given by now. If you didn’t know this well already, consider yourself informed and make note of it.

But what does this mean, psychologically? I begin by posing the following question:

“In regard to traditional martial arts, combat sports (MMA or UFC) and to a degree of so called reality based self-defense material that’s offered today– what is the main area left either completely unaddressed or at least barely mentioned?”

I’m curious to hear your answer to this important question and here’s my take on it.  The psychology in any violent encounter has two main components. Both are a mindset. The two mindsets are:

Emotional Mindset and Physical Mindset.

Emotional Mindset concerns control, Physical Mindset concerns access.

Let me explain.

In simple terms, Emotional Mindset governs your ability to control your emotions during the stress of any violent confrontation so they don’t prevent you from using your skills to master the violent problem you face.

Physical Mindset governs your ability to access your most vital physical and mental strengths before, during and after the full spectrum of the violent problem you face.

Now, outside of the physical stuff I have come to know, in terms of what works (hitting first, pre-emptive attacks, attacking with power, strength, impact, following up as appropriate or in short taking the initiative to exploit weaknesses and openings until the threat is no more), I never stopped to analyze why those of us who performed in such a manner were consistently so effective until recently.

I knew there was more to our effectiveness than just the physical aspect.

I knew about the need to understand my own emotions, fear, and adrenaline.

I knew I had to control my emotions and chemical responses or they would control me.

I knew I had ultimately to master myself before I had any chance of dealing with anyone else.

I knew these things but considered it getting my mind right. Staying focused on the task at hand.

I believed– like many people who work to master professional skills—“I may not always know the why and how of what I do well; I simply know that I can do it at a high level of proficiency.”

I’ve come to realize as I write to you, as I instruct others and as I continue my own training, just how important the psychological part of the equation is.

I have learned that the psychological is what most people struggle with.

The simple fact is that, the reason some people freeze up in the face of a violent confrontation is because they fear consequence, particularly the consequence of injury.  If you fear getting injured you won’t deal with the situation in a physical sense. If you enter violent confrontation worried about the outcome– getting hurt, police involvement, being sued or jail– there is no way you’ll be able to access your skill sets, no matter how much training you have.

Control of negative emotions lets you access skill under pressure. This starts with the way you think. It affects the way you feel, the action you take and the results you get.  All who deal well with violence—from street thug to violent sociopath to SOF operator—have something in common. Their perspective of the pre-fight event is the same or very similar.  Their mindset is a combative mindset, focused on what they’re going to do to the threat they face. Their focus is not on what the attacker can do to them.

So what’s the ideal state, pre-fight? Pre-fight, the ideal state is observant, calm, collected and confident. If you’re angry, it’s under the surface. Confidence comes from pressure testing your training, real world experience and crisis rehearsal, all of which helps you visualize how you will win the fight.  The bottom line to confidence in your own abilities comes from knowing you WILL fight with impact (strength & power) and attitude (mindset).  That really is the very foundation of combative functionality, I relate this to the five elements of combat, (speed, surprise, diversion, superior fire power and violence of action).

What’s the ideal state, post-fight? Just as before the event, post-conflict you need to be collected and in control of your emotions.  You break state and get back into one of collected observation. You have to be able to function. Find an exit, drive a car, administer first-aid or talk to a police officer without incriminating yourself.

In closing, the people that can effectively operate within any field don’t necessarily know the whys and how of what they do, they simply know that they can.  I hope this has given you food for thought.  Perhaps it will enlighten some who have such efficiency already, as to why you operate so effectively.  I believe that equal focus should be given to mental conditioning as well as all aspects of physical training.



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