T Nation

The Tactical Life


I would have felt the same and done the same as you. Tear drop tats for the hard core gang banger is a badge of murder. Whether it was legit or not, it means you are in my sights. If I had a Nazi lightning bolt tatted on my neck, I would assume people would think I was in the Aryan Brotherhood.


Thought for the day: Wise words spoken.


For those interested. The Army’s new physical fitness assessment:

The Army has just begun implementing its new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) which will replace the outdated Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) sometime in 2020. The ACFT is gender- and age-neutral and will follow this pattern:

Three repetition deadlift (120-420 pounds depending on soldier).

Two minutes rest.

Standing power throw of a 10-pound medicine ball. Soldiers will have to toss the ball overhead and backwards. They will get one practice and two graded attempts.

Two minutes rest.

Hand-release push-ups. Soldiers will have to touch the floor with their chest and lift their hands between each repetition. They will have three minutes to perform as many repetitions as possible.

Two minutes rest.

Sprint/sled-drag/carry. Soldiers will have four minutes to complete five repetitions of 25-meter sprints out and 25-meter sprints back. Each attempt will vary, with either sprinting, sled-dragging, lateral shuffle, or a sprinting farmer’s walk with two 40-pound kettle bells.

Two minutes rest.

As many kip-ups as possible in two minutes.

Five minutes rest.

Two-mile run.

The ACFT is geared toward producing soldiers who would be effective in a combat environment.

_Originally published on NEWSREP


How would you run a morning PT session to train for that test?


While I get what you are asking, a proper ‘combat test’ would assess the physical skills known to improve combat survivability, and thus a proper pt program which is preparing soldiers for combat would cause them to score appropriately on the test without any specialized prep.

Having said that, pushups? Still? While my combat experience is somewhat limited and it was done from a moving boat, I have to question what pushups have to do with combat fitness. Of the vets in this thread, when have any of you had to push yourselves up off the ground 50+ times in a single engagement?

At least they are finally including a ‘version’ of pull ups, which are way more relevant than pushups.


I’ve read this thread since I’ve been on the site, but have never commented on it. Now with a wife and the thought of building my own family, “protecting” my family has been more on my mind.

For an average joe, what skills, tools, etc are needed to truly protect your family?

A few things I AM good at:

  • I never face my back to a door when we eat at a restaurant. I always sit in an area where I can view the whole place.
  • When driving I can tell you the license plates all the cars surrounding me including brand and model. It was a game I use to play with my brother going up and now it comes naturally to me.
  • I’m able to spot bad drivers from a distance.
  • I know how to avoid bad situations. I trust my gut. I have good situational awareness.
  • I’m short and powerful. Capable of taking down someone much bigger than me.
  • I ALWAYS have an exit plan no matter what place I am at. I know exactly if something were to happen what plan A and B are.

Things I am NOT good at:

  • I don’t know how to fight.
  • I’ve never shot a gun.
  • I’ve never had to “Defend” someone else.

I watch A LOT of movies like Jason Bourne, etc. I know it’s fiction (for the most part), but I think I would love to get to a point where I have “no fear” of any situation. How does one to get to this level? My assumption is that it is from YEARS of training and for an average joe it’s just not possible.

Any input would be appreciated. This realm is foreign to someone like me. I apologize if this question sounds stupid, but I am generally interested.


I don’t think training will alleviate any fear, if you have never been in a scrap. Or it has been since 4th grade… And fear aside, any dustup will cause an adrenaline rush, even with lots of experience.

That said, you should complement your situational awareness with some basic martial training. Footwork, throwing a straight punch, avoidance of being put on the ground, and some kind of weapon training into proficiency.

The weapon choice is, of course up to you. But fists only is definitely lacking.


These are all great. Most of keeping yourself and those under the mantle of your protection safe involves staying out of bad situations in the first place. In fact, that can be ALL of keeping yourself safe if you’re lucky enough to go through life without a violent person crossing your path.

I spent the entirety of my 20’s as a mild-mannered white collar worker who had never picked up a barbell, owned a gun, bounced in a bar or trained any serious combat art. I’m 38 now. Having dealt with a number of challenging and sometimes violent situations as a bouncer, it seems to me that the only way to inoculate yourself to violence is to experience violence.

Luckily, you don’t need to pick fights or be a bouncer to do that. Part of my ability to stay calm, measured and act accordingly when things get chippy was just on-the-job bouncing experience, but most came from training jiu jitsu under an instructor who prioritizes handling violence over sport competition. I’ve wrote about the differences between sport jiu jitsu and jiu jitsu as a true “martial” art at length, so I won’t re-hash it here. In a nutshell, focused training and hard sparring with a resisting opponent who will make you accustomed to functioning under pain, pressure and discomfort goes a long way towards making you more effective in real situations. Muay Thai, Boxing, Wrestling and Judo all generally fit this bill too.

There’s just no substitute to training. If you want to be a guy who can step up and handle a violent person without a weapon, you need to train something worthwhile. There’s no easy path to this, it takes a lot of time and even then there are no guarantees.

Others can speak to firearms better than I can, but the same principle applies. The more you train with focus and specific intent, the better you will become at the martial art of gun fighting. Like jiu jitsu, a person who trains combat-oriented drills and competition (like IDPA) will be much better off in a fight than someone who just shoots sporting clays. Sport training is fun and fulfilling and I’d take a great clay shooter over someone who’s never shot a gun in a fight, but it isn’t a substitute for martial arts. There are no easy paths to this either. I’m just a novice shooter, maybe 12,000 rounds downrange in the last 6 years. It takes a lot of time to get any good at it, and just like violence without weapons, there are no guarantees when the whistle blows and it’s on.

Violence and protecting yourself and others isn’t anything like the movies. It’s chaotic and messy and scary. If you think it is worthwhile, the best you can do is stack the odds in your favor through training and preparation.

On that note, home defense drills are worthwhile here too. Make sure your kids and spouse know what to do if there’s a stranger at the door or a stranger in the house. Have a plan. Just like you would with a fire.

Go sign up for a class of some kind. Get your bubble burst so you can appreciate just how bad you suck at something you’ve never done. Get lit up on the mats or see how good an unassuming dweeb can be with a pistol. It’s a good eye-opener.


@isdatnutty For the record, I can attest first-hand that being able to squat 405 for reps is an outstanding base of athleticism for jiu jitsu, especially stand-up work. All of that hip power you have can also make it really hard for anyone to hold you down. You’d be a beast if you stuck with it.


You are right about the push ups. Based on my experience, the greatest asset in combat is the ability to think while everything is turning to shit around you, move, sprint, conditioning to wear 60 to 90 pounds of battle rattle in 120 degree heat for hours.

pull ups or similar upper body work is needed, because, I don’t care what anyone says, there is no easy way to pull yourself through a “window” or go over some mud wall or crawl through some rat tunnel without that base strength.

There is an old saying: “Legs feed the wolf” and I firmly believe it. From stepping up into the bird to using your legs to push open a damaged MRAP rear door, you need strength. and of course the greatest asset in combat is the ability to de-ass the situation ASAP.)))


Welcome and I think you are way ahead of the game. Your “what I am good at” is also excellent. 2JS and Treco gave you good advice.

  1. as they said, think about taking some basic classes in a practical martial art. No disrespect , but Tai Chi is not the way to go.

  2. Depending on the state you live in, a lot of “gun shops” have indoor ranges and offer a 8 to 16 hour familiarization courses on the use of handguns. They provide some basic handguns, teach you proper mechanics, and have you shoot some drills from the 3 and 7 yard line.

IMHO: Never go and buy a handgun just because it looks sexy in a a magazine or some “action hero” is is carrying one in the movies. Example: James Bond carries a Wather PPK, .380 caliber, a total piece of crap that is one of the hardest handguns to learn. Handguns are like clothes, you must find something that fits you.

  1. I would not worry about “defending” someone else. If someone attacks your wife and child, there will be no hesitation on your part. Good people don’t “think” about protecting, they just act.

  2. Thanks for posting and don’t be a stranger, brother.


From what I was told by a member of the selection committer, this is going to kick in after basic. The responsibility is going to be placed on the solider to train to standards. However, it is still up in the air and I don’t see the Army giving up PT in the mornings for basic.


Great post, brother.


Thought for the Day: “Humiliation is a thing never forgotten” Frank Herbert

And to feed my / scfi/geek side, take a look at this:


The exoskeleton delivers the right torque at the right time to assist knee flex and extension. The exoskeleton ultimately reduces the energy needed to cross terrain, squat or kneel. These benefits are most noticeable when ascending or descending stairs or navigating inclined surfaces.

This system boosts leg capacity for physically demanding tasks that require repetitive or continuous kneeling or squatting, or lifting, dragging, carrying, or climbing with heavy loads.

With the added news that our operators may soon be getting upgraded weapons systems that will increase the range and effectiveness of their weapons.


Do they have Sparta kick mode? That’s the most important thing.


Ive been in a lot of fights, a couple involving knives, guns, bats, etc. And I’ve never lost my fear.

The only person I’ve ever known that I truly believe had no fear at all of anything is in prison now for life. There was a lot wrong with him.



SkyzykS is totally correct.

Fear will make you smart, make you better. If you are in a lethal force situation as a solider, LEO, or civilian, you are going to experience fear in one form or another. The most important thing is not let it control you to the state you cannot act. Being catatonic during a violent situation is not a good thing.

I am scared on every situation I have ever been in, the key that I use is this:

Now, I don’t want to come off sounding like Yoda, but for me, I just say to myself" yep, this is real, I am feeling my old friend fear then I just acknowledge the feeling, allow it to pass through me and then say to myself" well, glad you are here" and go about doing the job.

Psychopaths aside, every professional I ever worked with feels fear on some level. Some get very quiet (me), some start acting like stand up comedians, some get irritated and become instant assholes, some eat more, some smoke more, some get really obsessive about their kit. The list goes on and on. All handle it in their on way and then go do the job.

Some real life things I have experienced about violence.

  1. If being in a bad situation, with the chances of dying are high, I have never thought whether the man or woman next to me was gay.

  2. I have never heard anyone cry out asking for the devil after being shot.

  3. I don’t care what workout program you are doing or if you have a 400 lb. bench press.

  4. I don’t care what race you are.

  5. I don’t care if you are a man or a woman or a vegan, can you hold it together and shoot? fight?

  6. Medics, Paramedics, are your angels.

  7. I don’t care whether you are carrying the latest technical whiz bang carbine or British .303 Lee-Infield, can you put rounds into the fight? do you know how to use whatever weapon you have?

  8. The point is this: if you are in a lethal force situation, you don’t care about a lot of things, so that leaves you the mental room to control the thing we call fear.

Just some thoughts, probably as clear as mud…


A big problem I see with the new PT test is that time will have to be dedicated to teaching the skills involved, then building the strength necessary to reach the standards, before you can test them. When I was in Basic there were a lot of privates who had shitty running form and none of the drill sgts bothered to show them how to fix it. It was up to those of us who had experience running to help them.

IMO, a two mile run will tell you who is fit and who couldn’t care less about staying in shape. The other things, instead of being part of a test should just be part of training.


Some thoughts on fear and violence…

I’ve come to believe that there are two broad categories of violence. Social and predatory. I’ve written about this before in this thread, so I’ll keep the distinction concise. Predatory violence is when someone’s out to seriously hurt you, kill you or take something from you. That’s always scary and I’ve never been in such a situation without a lot of adrenaline pumping and profound feelings of fear. Fortunately only two events in my life truly fit that bill, plus the only dangerously violent encounter I was involved with as a bouncer where social violence morphed into predatory violence against a person I first bounced and later ended up protecting.

Social violence is when someone gets violent or aggressive not because they want to take, kill or maim, but for other reasons. This is FAR more common than predatory violence. Perhaps they want to seem like they’re in control of whatever’s happening. Perhaps they want to seem dangerous to impress others. Perhaps they have difficulty controlling their emotions. Perhaps they’re just a bully. Perhaps they’re acting like an asshole and someone comes along to check their behavior, then things escalate. The reasons for assholes getting violent can be endless.

My experience with this obviously stems from being a bouncer at a cool little dive bar, but the same kind of situations can materialize at weddings, graduation parties, or any other situation where people interact with each other. Alcohol is often involved, but not always. In my 20’s I would have been too frightened to confront someone who is exhibiting social violence in most situations. I would have been the guy standing back while things played out or filming whatever’s happening on my cellphone.

In short, my fear of failing, looking stupid or getting hurt prevented me from taking action in several situations where I wished I could have done something. In all honesty, I don’t think I was even equipped to produce a better outcome if I were to take action. Rough-housing, backyard scraps and play-wrestling as a child can go a long way towards keeping yourself safe from bullies growing up, but that’s a different sort of game than controlling violent adults if you’re the type of person who wants to avoid assault charges. You can’t just go around decking people if you want to stay out of jail as an adult. You have to be able to respond to someone else escalating violence.

Two years of jiu jitsu training, four years of strength training and several years of bouncing later, I find that the side-effects of fear have melted away when it comes to social violence. That’s not to say I’ve become reckless, but it is to say that I’m better at reading the situation, watching people’s hands and staying calm when I take it upon myself to go up to an asshole and say that he (or she) needs to leave, then handling whatever happens after we have that conversation.

To be clear, the fear is always there. What can melt away with training and experiencing violence are the side-effects of fear. You can speak clearly, calmly and without a shaky voice. You can stay calm in tense situations and have the presence of mind to keep yourself protected against aggression (see prayer stance and combat footing) while you tell the asshole that he can’t be an asshole anymore. You gain the confidence to be the guy who tells someone else to stop, whether it’s grabbing women’s asses, being aggressive with other guys or just being an all-around jerk.

I suppose it’s possible that some people are born with the ability to step up, do the right thing in tense situations and back it up with appropriate force, but I sure wasn’t. It took a lot of training to make me into the kind of guy who can do that. Hopefully I don’t get killed or maimed because of it, but I’ll probably keep rolling the dice whenever I see a situation where I feel like I can produce an improved outcome.

Fear is always present to some degree or another, but the overwhelming majority of socially violent encounters I’ve dealt with in the last year or so have involved a level of fear that I imagine a Jr. High gym teacher feels when he’s breaking up a fight between two seventh graders. That doesn’t happen without training, not for me at least.

Train with purpose and as much controlled violence as you can. Get smashed. Smash others. Shake hands and grow together. Just watch the hands. Always watch the hands, and remember that there are no guarantees off of the mats.


Very wise words, brother, and something everyone on here needs to read.


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