Is Fitness Important for Self-Defense?

As I’m hitting a high-point for the year in my weight, I’ve been thinking about nutrition and fitness a lot more lately. As an aside, nobody (not even fitness pros) look perfect all the time. Our bodies make a static-state impossible, progress (forward and negative) is never going to be linear in terms of weight or strength so let yourself off the hook for natural swings.

OK, so back to personal protection…how important is fitness? I bet you think I’m gonna say “extremely” important. Nope, it isn’t very important at all! Once we get the Hollywood myth of extended fights (gunfights or hand to hand) out of our mind, we realize the reality of true criminal violence is that (one way or the other) it is going to be over quick. How quick? Well, from a few seconds to under a minute in most cases.

In the fitness world, we would consider this “anaerobic” which means without oxygen.  The energy you use for a short burst comes from the glycogen already in your muscles (and a burst of adrenaline won’t hurt!)

So, you don’t have to be in great shape to fight for a few seconds up to a minute and since you should be striking using your body mass (Not strength) and target vulnerable parts of their bodies, strength is not that important either.  Alternatively, you may be using a tool such as a gun or knife that does the injuring.

So, if fitness isn’t that important for self-defense why does it matter? First of all, while you probably won’t have to fight long, you will need to MOVE QUICKLY! If you are so overweight you cannot move quickly and in balance, then you are at a severe disadvantage in any violent situation.

“But I carry a gun!” So what?  You had better be moving (off the “X”, or to cover) if you want to survive.  Further, the hit of adrenaline along with the sudden burst of activity could cause a heart attack in a severely de-conditioned person.

To sum up: you don’t have to be in shape like a MMA fighter to prevail in a violent conflict. 30-40 extra lbs. aren’t a huge deal so long as you can move quickly and in balance.  Training will by far the deciding factor here (do you have any professional firearms or self-defense training?)
However, if your lack of conditioning and weight, makes quick and balanced movement difficult then you will be at a huge disadvantage. Since the odds of dying of heart disease or related complications due to obesity far outweigh the odds of dying due to violence, you should get in better shape for those reasons alone. I’ve seen what the end looks like for people dying in hospitals due to diseases related to their obesity…it’s not pretty. On the other hand, if getting in shape to protect yourself and family provides better motivation then use that!  Good luck in safety and health!


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