Having taught traditional martial arts and self-defense seminars for over 30 years “that guy” or girl, that could make me want to reach up and rip the eyes from my own head just for some relief was the “what if” guy. It always went something like this. I am teaching a new technique in class. I have a student act as my attacker and I direct him to grab my shoulder at which time I will demonstrate and explain said technique. I might not even be through with the first demonstration when “that guy” speaks up. “What if he grabs your wrist? What if he grabs your neck? What if he punches you?” The business minded Dojo owner has to smile and explain that if any of those things happen there is a different technique, but at this moment we are working on the one demonstrated.
This happens so much, and is so predictable, it is tedious, and grates on your nerves like fingernails on a chalk board. You want to scream, “I will teach you all that I know, now stand silently, and listen, as I do I, in the order I want!” Of course, as an instructor, you cannot do that, and now, as I type this my tongue is bleeding a bit, YOU need to be “that guy”.
Maybe not in your traditional martial arts class, but as a gun owner, and especially as a gun carrier. If you carry any kind of weapon to defend yourself and/or others you should be asking yourself “what if”, many times a day. What if someone walks up to me while I am pumping gas with a screw driver in his hand? What if when I walk into the fast food restaurant there is a guy holding a gun on the cashier? What if I hear shots while I am at the mall?
Let’s face it. If you ever need to defend yourself, or those you really care about, then your stress level will be at a peak. That is not the time to try and make the most important decisions in your life. You can never train and be ready for everything that could happen, but the more you have planned for, the better chance you will have the answer, or be able to make a slight adjustment and have the answer. Police and firefighters train all the time. They don’t do it just because they are bored. They do it because it helps. If I am going to be in a situation that may cost me or others our lives, then I want the best chance I can get to get it right.
When I am walking through the mall I ask myself “what if” I hear shots behind me right now. “What if” I hear them from in front of me? When I am walking to my car I consider “what if” there is a group of five or six teens running towards me? If I have never considered this then there is a lot of info to process in a very short time. Are they running towards me or just past me? How do I know? Do they have weapons, or does that even matter if there are six of them? Are they kids, teens, or young adults? Is there a reason they would be mad at me? Is this a time or place where I should expect violence? Should I run, fight, or wait? Is it possible I could expect aid from nearby? The list goes on and on, and you have a very few seconds to get it right. If you have already considered it then it is no big deal to put your plan in action. You step between the nearby parked cars, limiting their access and approach to you. Now “what if” they pull up and start moving between the cars towards you? “What if” they split up and attempt to pin you between those cars?
“What if” should be a constant and ongoing part of your situational awareness. If you have a likeminded friend or spouse then all the better. The two of you can play the “what if” game much like inspector Clouseau and his faithful man servant. As you sit in a restaurant your wife could ask you, “what if an angry guy walks up and starts yelling at the woman across from us and you see he has a gun tucked in his belt in the small of his back?” Score each other, and discuss possible options. The point is to have as many decisions as possible made, before the situation even occurs.
One final note on this. Yes when you go to your gun class you should be “that guy” there as well. No don’t drown the instructor in hundreds of possible scenarios but yes call him on something relevant that you think he has special knowledge on, or you have an unanswered question about. I change my plan on “what if” constantly. A good knowledgeable instructor may well have thought of something I have not considered or his reasoning may point out faults in my plan, or his answer may make me surer that what I think is right. You are paying him to help you so make sure you get that help in some form.
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