Never make it easy for the bad guys. If anyone ever wants to assault you, rob you, or worse, it should be the hardest thing they have ever done in their life. Always make the bad guys work for it. Becoming Hard to Kill has become an internet meme attributed to Tim Kennedy.
Young men and older men for that matter should see him as a role model. UFC fighter, Army Ranger, entrepreneur, and family man, he should inspire men as to what they can accomplish. The emphasis on this article is about becoming physically resistant to harm.
Detecting and avoiding trouble, and not starting trouble should be the emphasis and your first plan. Then comes the next step, which is hardening and strengthening your mind and body to escape, or withstand or do violence to the greatest degree possible. I want to present a multi-dimensional approach to personal safety, with this article focusing on becoming a hard target.
- Awareness of your surroundings and potential threats
- Deterrence through presenting yourself as a unattractive target
- Avoidance: The conscious decision to avoid a threat, even if it means swallowing pride and ego.
- De-escalation to convince the threat you are not a good target while not challenging, insulting or threatening them
- Being able to escape a threat by fleeing. There is no shame in this. Sometimes it is the smartest move.
- Being able to give or a take a beating if it comes down to it when all of the above fail.
- This includes injury prevention, and disease and illness prevention
It’s No Fun Being a Victim
It’s a cold world we live in. Those who are weak will be victimized. This is not my cynical world view, but rather an objective observation of reality and history. Those who are both strong and predatory exploit and use those who are weaker, on both the individual and international level. A basic tenet of Victimology; the study of victims; is the very politically incorrect theory that victims nearly always precipitate their own victimization, or contribute in at least some small way to being victimized. Examples include:
- Making large cash withdrawal from an ATM, and then walking down the street counting it. You will be an easy target for a mugger
- Buying or selling drugs. You will be robbed, beaten or murdered at some point. It is inevitable; it is only a question of when and how severe.
- Being an unfaithful lover. People lose all sense of reason when someone they are intimate with steps out on them, or if they even perceive this is happening as per the hyperlinked story.
- The timid, skinny high school freshman who shows fear or hesitation to the bullies.
This is not victim blaming. The offender is always responsible for their actions. But there is no need to leave yourself wide open to aggression, or to walk into high risk situations. This is about making victims responsible for their safety and making a predator’s job harder.
People victimize themselves by choosing to associate with violent and unstable individuals, or by entering into and staying in abusive relationships. There is another perspective on victimization. We victimize ourselves with a poor diet, lack of exercise, and not enough rest, smoking, or by abusing drugs or alcohol. This also includes heart disease and diabetes, and increased incidence of colds and flu, and injury.
Avoidance of Violence
This is not a contradiction, but rather an alternative to a deterrence appearance. Blend in. Don’t draw attention to yourself. There is power in anonymity. The gray man theory is about hiding yourself and your abilities so you don’t become a target. Someone swaggering around in Tacti-Cool gear while grocery shopping is going to draw attention. If an active shooter or terrorist is scoping an area, you may look like a good first target. There is also an even greater risk you will look like a douchebag, particularly if you have never been in the military or law enforcement. If you want a good laugh, check this satirical forum thread on the Mall-ninja, aka the Tacti-Douche.
Timing & Location
Twenty years ago, what I am about to say would be paranoid, but the world has changed. Consider avoiding busy times in supermarkets, Big-box stores, and malls, and avoid crowds and large gatherings as much as possible Active shooters and terrorism is a reality. Densely packed people are a target. I know how this sounds, and this action must be balanced with how it could impact your quality of life. If you are in a densely packed area, it is especially important to work on good situational awareness. Know the exits, escape routes, location of cover and concealment, and have a plan beforehand if things get hectic.
Prevention of Violence through Discipline
Awareness, avoidance, and de-escalation are critical skills every adult should have. Ideally these skills should be introduced and practiced from childhood on. While this information is critical, it is not the emphasis of this particular article. For a look at developing these skills see:
Self-control, showing respect, good manners, and learning how to compromise and negotiate are valuable skills. Part of not being a victim is being assertive rather than submissive. It does not mean going to the opposite extreme a becoming a rude, obnoxious, swaggering loudmouth. It is amazing to me how some people will blatantly disrespect others without any concern of immediate consequences. Here some things I have seen:
- You got a real pretty mouth from a young punk sitting at an outdoor café, to a man walking down the sidewalk that had been contorting his face as he tried digging something out of his teeth.
- Green on the back, neon green on the back from an idiot singing this as he was walking behind a runner wearing two-tone black and fluorescent green gear.
- What’s up tiny? From a cocky, grinning, thug to a 250 lb. bodybuilder who must have outweighed him by a hundred pounds.
I just don’t get it. Running your mouth to a complete stranger is a good way to get a beating; or even more. Don’t be that guy. Always let the other guy be the asshole. Show others respect and you will avoid many potential conflicts. This applies to everyday life, and even more so if our civilized (?) society takes a sideways turn.
On a more positive note, I have noticed what seems to be a growing trend in my area of New England. When you are at a stoplight, if you look at someone in a car next to you, they give you a nod, instead of ignoring you or giving you the WTF are you lookin’ at look. I got it and returned it twice today. Try it. This simple display of respect can go a long way.
The Physical Training Plan
This program does not include defensive tactics or fighting skills; that is a completely different and much more complex discussion for another time. This is about getting your body ready for anything including defensive tactics training. The principals herein are to combine movements which employ multiple muscle groups working in concert.
Bodybuilding is not the end goal. You will not be focused on aesthetics although a more aesthetically pleasing form will result, but performance. Bodybuilding is great; I have done it for years. Your body is treated like a canvass or slab of marble and you will transform it into a work of living art. It is a very worthwhile endeavor.
Of course you will become stronger. But bodybuilding is in one dimension; it is mostly about making muscles larger and more symmetrical and defined. There are many isolation movements in bodybuilding, such as preacher curls or chest flyes, which emphasize making individual muscles larger, but do not promote total body strength, or potential summation of force by learning to use multiple muscle groups together. As I have gotten older, I have come to value strength training over body building, and added other dimensions to training to be better-rounded and better prepared for whatever life bring your way
If you are over 40, or have not trained in more than six months, or have a pre-existing injury or medical condition, consult your physician before beginning any physical training program
I would also recommend getting formal instruction through a qualified personal trainer. See the hyperlinks at the bottom of this article for some other resources to get you started.
A functional training program is about using muscles in concert, to generate maximum force, being able to move with speed and agility, and maintaining flexibility, while having a hard insulating layer of muscle. Your routine should include and emphasize:
- Deadlifts so you can pick up something heavy from the ground.
See the Video below. You may have to work your way up to this [Sarcasm Alert]
- One arm dumbbell rows to pick up heavy things.
- Farmer’s walks so you can carry heavy things.
- Frog squat to be able to squat down and straighten up without grabbing anything for support
- Burpees, possibly the most efficient way to develop total body strength, cardiovascular capacity, and muscle endurance.
- Thrusters; a great compound movement for pushing weight overhead.
- Pullups and dips to push and to pull yourself up and over an obstacle or to climb, and for general upper body strength.
- Develop grip strength so when you grab something or someone it stays grabbed
- Tire flipping to engage multiple muscle groups and just to feel badass.
- Bench press to develop upper body strength.
- Sprinting and stair climbing to get out of harm’s way fast or get somewhere to help someone fast.
- Distance running and walking for overall endurance, fat control, and general fitness.
- Crunches for a strong care which will help you with everything else on this list.
Eating & Hydration
We Americans eat large amounts of the wrong food. I am guilty of this as well. Living in a northern part of the US, with long cold winters, and short days (the 3rd week of December, it is dark here by 5:00 PM ). It just makes it too easy to hibernate and eat apple pies, pumpkin pies, chocolate cake, and chocolate chip cookies, Tarte au Sucre, and cream filled donuts.
These foods are very satisfying in terms of taste and mouth feel , which is the creamy sensation from the load of fats contained These foods are delicious and I love eating them in large quantities. They are also calories dense, and nutrient poor. They are laden with saturated fats, which are the worst kinds as they promote arterial clogging.
They are loaded with sodium which causes water retention and can raise blood pressure in susceptible individuals. They are packed with refined white sugar, which can beat up your pancreas and decrease insulin sensitivity so that your cells no longer respond to insulin and you get adult onset diabetes. America is suffering from an epidemic of obesity accompanied by heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers associated with obesity.
If you are obese, it is harder to buy proper fitting clothes, you can break chairs, it decreases your gas mileage, it makes it harder to breathe, and make every effort more difficult from the dead weight you are carrying. It is also unsightly. No, despite what the toxic FAM (Fat Acceptance Movement) professes, people are not beautiful at any weight.
We are also not healthy at any weight. Fat is ugly and unhealthy. That does not mean I hate fat people. (I can hear the hate comments now). I am currently one of them after a winter of sloth and gluttony, and am now working to compensate with twice a day workouts and a strict clean eating plan. I recognize obesity as a health problem, and a public health issue. Let’s define what compassion really is. Is it kinder to fat people to assure them they are beautiful at any weight, or to encourage weight loss and healthy habits to maintain weight?
Some options for healthy eating include:
The Mediterranean diet and The Paleo diet, both of which focus on clean eating, and avoiding processed foods. Triathlete and former Iron Man winner Mark Allen recommends only shopping from the perimeter of a supermarket. This will allow you to avoid most processed foods heavily laden with the Unhealthy Triad of added sodium, refined sugar and saturated fat, as well as excessive preservatives, and artificial colors flavorings.
Drink water. Then drink more water. After that, have some water. Water is good for you. It helps with regulation of body temperature, facilitates fat metabolism, helps maintain good bowel function, keeps your skin smoother, helps your muscles work more efficiently, and much more. I prefer room temperature water as I find it easier to drink in large amounts.
Carry a water bottle and sip all day, refilling it as needed. Try some different bottled waters until you discover your favorites. Two of my favorites are Evian for a flat water and Gerolsteiner for a sparkling water. I find they are worth the price. Disregard the tiresome you need eight glasses of water a day crap. How much water you need is dependent on your body weight, your gender (there are just two options BTW) activity level and ambient temperature. See the link below for a hydration calculator.
Rest & Recovery
Don’t overdo it and over train to the point of injury or burnout. You need days off to recover and for your muscles to grow. You will release HGH (Human Growth Hormone) from your pituitary gland while you sleep so injuries can heal and muscles can grow. A day off does not mean sitting and doing nothing. Get outside for an easy, slow walk or bike ride, kick a soccer ball or throw a football; do something where you are moving your body.
It is much more difficult to victimize someone who is armed, despite any physical disparity, or difference in fighting skills. Jocko Willink, retired navy SEAL and commander of Seal team Three is a man who knows a thing or two about self-protection. He advocates carrying a firearm for protection. See one of his videos on this topic below.
Get a gun, any required license or permit in your area, and training which covers at least gun safety, marksmanship, self-defense law in your jurisdiction, safe gun storage and transport, and maintenance. Decide on (as much as one can) your willingness to engage an active shooter, terrorist, or other intent on harming you.
Get lots of ammo; locate a shooting range, and practice, practice, practice. Read good sources on firearms, and watch good videos on firearms, but so not rely exclusively on self- training. Reading and videos are supplements to live training; not a substitute for it.
Don’t be anyone’s victim. Start by making yourself a hard target.
Resources for further reading: