June 22, 2020
During a recent exchange of texts with a friend who is a force-on-force problem solver, Sensei James Williams, I responded to his news about running his first martial arts class in a dojo with “Good luck, James.”
His reply was more pointed: “You guys didn’t depend on luck. However, thank you.”
Williams teaches ancient wisdom for the modern world. I definitely don’t disagree with him when he made that statement to me about luck. But it made me start to think, Do we become luckier as we become better trained?
To some, luck is arbitrary. Rolling the dice, fairly dealt cards, rock-paper-scissors, flipping a quarter, etc. In reality, I believe we can make our luck increase with better training. This is especially true if you happen to carry a gun for a living, or if you carry a gun for personal or family protection. The more we train, the better our luck becomes, or at least the better our odds of having the fight go our way.
So what does this really mean? When I teach, I try to get the point across that we are training for the 1 percenters, not the 99 percenters. If we train for majority of the people, we more than likely will win 99 percent of the fights with the 99 percenters. The problem is this: The 99 percenters are not the ones who you will have an encounter with. Instead, you’ll likely face off with the same violence produced by cop killers, terrorists and violent individuals who make up the small percentage of our population. The violent among us has only the following objectives: To kill you, your family and to destroy your way of life.
So, what does luck have to do with the “baddest of the bad” 1 percenters that we’re training to eliminate in a violent struggle? Everything. We need to be prepared to bend the rules and increase our odds to win that fight. We do this with realistic training that allows us to thrive in a fight, not to simply survive it.
Do you continually thrive to increase your lethality? “Lethality” may sound like a bad word, but if you are carrying a gun you should hone your skills to that razor’s edge. This can’t be accomplished with lackadaisical training.
In a gunfight, several things matter; speed being one, accuracy being the other, but not necessarily in that order. Why would an increase in speed make a gunfight go your way? You can’t engage a threat with the pistol in the holster, or with the carbine slung across your chest. You have to get your gun efficiently and effectively into the fight. Nothing bad happens until you squeeze the trigger, so do everything as fast as you possibly can, then slow down and make your shots count. Every time there is a fight, speed really does matter.
With the elephant in the room neutralized, let’s get on with increasing luck exponentially. Start by increasing your accuracy. If you can’t hit what you are shooting at, it doesn’t matter how fast you happen to be. As I’ve said before, “Do everything as fast as possible except for squeezing the trigger.”
Accuracy will be weighed and measured with each pull of the trigger. Has the threat been eliminated? If not, continue to engage. I would say this: You can never train to be too accurate in a fight. As your anxiety or pressure gets to you, accuracy will slip away. We must always push ourselves during training with smaller and more difficult targets. In a gunfight, you don’t know what you will have to shoot at.
Back to luck. I believe we make our own luck, and we can enhance our own luck. We do all of this with combat- focused training. Flat-range skills are great and necessary to building fundamentals, but when the rubber meets the road, we need to enhance our training with realistic scenarios and get quality coaching. There are many trainers that can show you the ropes, just be sure that their training is realistic and not simply a circus trick.
As an old saying goes, and one I have heard from many buddies after a successful combat mission, “Better to be lucky than good.” This statement isn’t really how they handle the rigors of combat. They have honed their skills to that razor’s edge. Hopefully, they picked the time and place for their encounter, and have readied themselves and their equipment for their trial by fire.
Hardened warriors don’t rely on luck; they make their luck. Rely on your training. Don’t rely on superstitions or a lucky rabbit’s foot. And by the way, where in the world did that ridiculous tradition come from?
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