Back to Basics


A tactical leader and brother o’mine sent this out as a reminder to his teammates, as he put it, that “lifting heavy things” does not equate to fitness. As he is an incredibly strong individual, not to mention incredibly resilient, returning from double hip surgery and nearly a year’s recuperation to full operational status, while in his late 40’s, and still a model for many of his peers decades younger, it bears attention.

Interestingly, he got it from the book Organizational Behavior, 16th Edition, by Stephen P. Robbins and Timothy A. Judge.

Once the above nine basics are in working order – to the extent that we keep working on them where we are at right now, as age, hurt, injury, and the like visit and re-visit – I’d add some basic applications that we should be working for next up the list…

How well do we change position from standing to kneeling, kneeling to lying, and back up again? Are we a contained package of efficient motion, or flailing, arms out (including with weapons), head bobbing, back precarious, legs splayed?

This is directly relevant to defensive work, whether unarmed or working with weapons, especially important with firearms and positional shooting, as we have muzzle discipline and lasering issues to be concerned with.

And how do we move in non-standing positions? This is very important. Many people spend their lives standing, wearing shoes almost all the time; reclining in soft couches and chairs, and laying flat in bed.  How well do we organize ourselves when moving through non-standing positions?

How about foot flexibility? Some people don’t have the foot flexibility for basic kneeling positions with toes, or feet, tucked under, important postures in traditional arts and jiu-jitsu – and surprisingly very useful in kneeling and low clearing and shooting postures with long gun and handgun. The kneeling shikko “samurai walk” movement seen in some arts is very efficient for clearing attics or crawlspaces, for example.

How well do we rise from a supine or prone position? This is a particularly critical matter as its all about getting up off the ground, where we don’t to be if we can avoid it in an actual encounter. If we can’t avoid it, we want to be able to reverse the situation. The jiujitsu technical standup (in defensive tactics and shooting I’ve heard it called “tactical rise”) offers a physical organization capable of receiving pressure (from incoming grabs or tackles or strikes, or from recoil) to stay in a solid posture during movement, versus only in the places where we stop. For people wearing body armor and heavy gun-belts, or in tight clothes, or who are running a pistol during the stand up, I advocate first taking a knee and then continuing the stand up – the reasons for this are several fold and should be obvious. I’ve heard Craig Douglas describe the gun-in-hand stand up as similar to a Turkish Get Up . Just imagine running a pistol forward instead of a Kettle Bell.

Check this one out if you are a doubter…

Finally how do we fall? One of the most neglected personal protection skills we should be practicing.

Can we fall well, to minimize the impact or at least the potential injury a hard surface may do? This holds increasingly true as we age, falls exacting a terrible toll each year. And obviously an important consideration in combative situations that occur on hard and uneven surfaces. I’ve been thrown and taken people down on concrete, fallen multiple times on the street or steps or stairs wearing full gear, and once did a heels-over-head flip over bike handlebars (unintentionally, and as an adult) and rolls and breakfalls learned in judo and jiujitsu saved the day each and every time.

Once we have the basic attributes described in Exhibit 2-3 down, the ability to fall down and get up,  or simply get up and get down, is the next step in personal preparedness.


2 thoughts on “Back to Basics”

  1. The Turkish get-up, done with a sandbag held close (arm not extended overhead as with a kettlebell), is deserving of some training time in this regard too. A duty vest or weighted vest would add something.

    I would add, if I may, moving over barriers. In the gym I have tried this by cleaning a sandbag to my shoulder and then stepping up onto a bench and down the other side. I used this for developing my mountain legs but I see that it could be useful in the context which you are introducing here.

    Excellent points about transitioning between levels.


    1. Excellent, Al. We’ll be extending the pistol and bringing it in based on circumstances, so that is very relevant.

      Over and under barriers is also a good point – climbing fences, going over obstacles, I even had to access a roof on a recent callout by climbing atop a fence and clambering over the edge of roof, which had a short wall of sorts rising about a foot over the top edge of the roof. In heavy vest and helmet….

      Being able to take positions and postures that enable us to functionally clear and/or engage from on-the-ground positions: underneath a car and underneath a bed are common examples. We have to be able to get down there, clear, and get up “in one piece,” as it were.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s