“Grind the Bones and Pulverize the Body”
The phrase above was brushed by the revered Admiral Togo Heihachiro (1848-1934), and capture the essence of demanding physical training.
My whole body hurts.
It hurts a lot of the time. Most of the time.
My brain too. With knowledge improperly learned, or incorrectly applied, revealed in every mistake made on the mat, on the range, in tactical training, and in the field.
Those incidents in which I have to admit, had someone wanted to, they could have “had” me.
Feeling my age, I work alongside people who could be my children. But still being out there, I also feel a personal responsibility to not just keep up, but to be toward the front of the pack.
This is both good and bad. Good because it tests my confidence and my commitment. Bad because it gets a little harder with every year that passes. And because though I am out taking new classes (often, again, alongside people who could be my kids), and spend a lot of personal time doing so, I don’t see a lot of that from others. Whether my own cohort, or the young pups. Some of those who could be my kids can’t keep up with me.
This is not a good thing in an armed profession, where today use of force is the most undertrained, most misunderstood, and most highly scrutinized facet. The news feed, just today, describes officers swarmed by a crowd after shooting an armed man who ran from them, an officer hit over the head with a rock, disarmed, and killed with his own gun (along with a bystander), and three officers shot when tracking a murder suspect, two when working undercover surveillance and one later in a shootout. It is increasingly dangerous out here.
We have something called “open range,” where anyone that works for us can come in and shoot on our dime. A fraction of folks do. Those who do of course make noticeable improvements. They get better on the range, which at least provides a foundation for being better out in the world. But its still only a fraction.
Unless a qualification is coming up…
So we decided to offer a free grappling class – Open Mat, if you will – the time and space generously donated by a local jiujitsu academy, for officers to come in and train, as with open range. Same time, every week. We have a couple regulars. Hardly anyone else.
Some people have commitments – oddly every week another one comes up for some folks. Or they feel its more important to play soccer. Or to do something with their families. Or just to find something else to do.
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s good to have family time. My own training takes a back seat to family time often enough. One of my mantras has always been that it is far more important to be a better father (parent) than it is to be a better fighter…
But every week? For only two hours? Time can’t be found to do a little of something that could, literally, mean the difference between spending the rest of a lifetime with your family or being a picture on the wall, framed in black?
Or being a shell of the person you once were? Descending into PTSD and intoxication and withdrawal because of a bad use of force decision?
Or increasingly, being out of a job or even in prison because an inefficient use of force looked like excessive or unjustified force?
Is your family not important enough for that?
Some will never see the connection. Some are comfortable getting by, secure in the knowledge that for most of them, nothing serious will ever actually happen. A bit of resentment attaches to that, I think. As some like me sacrifice personal time and personal comfort, and our egos, training, Grinding our Bodies, Pulverizing our Bones, preparing to prevail, while they…..do what suits them, secure in the fact that someone else will show up to make the bad people stop.
And will save them when they do something they shouldn’t because they were too excited, or too foolish, to do what should have been done in the first place.