For a long time it was a mystery to me why few people desire to improve themselves with actual, constructive training. It shouldn’t have been; I spent decades without a thought for any real physical and mental improvement, myself. It didn’t help that I had no real purpose other than chasing the almighty dollar (not so mighty, now, is it?).

I imagine most people are stuck in that bubble. It’s what we’ve created for ourselves in American society, or rather what we’ve allowed to metastasize.

The Good Times have been good, but the cancer is now terminal. If you plan to prepare yourself for what lies ahead, or have the ability to prepare your children, then there’s a whole wide world of training and education you’ve perhaps never given a thought.

Training is Uncomfortable

Whether it’s physical fitness, mental fitness, martial arts or combatives, FoF, scenarios, weapons, tactics…well it’s all uncomfortable, sometimes downright painful. Few people really enjoy the work and commitment involved.

The most accessible form of self-improvement is physical fitness, as evidenced by the proliferation of local gyms, clubs, boxes and studios. This kind of training has the significant advantage of offering to make you look better, which of course is the #1 priority always every time forever amen. So you get a lot of participation, even though it’s often uncomfortable or painful to improve your physical fitness. People see and want that benefit.

But then there’s the shortcuts. Get fit without doing XYZ, or 4-minute workouts, and eat whatever you want. Make it as painless and comfortable as possible, please, and I might consider working out once a week.

And wrestling/grappling/striking? Forget about it. “I’m already sore from lifting that 5# dumbbell and you want me to start fighting people? Get lost.”

Few want to go through the pain of growth training requires. But many want the benefits. Most often the fear and comfort of conflict avoidance and personal sedation win.

But if the point of training is to turn you into a fit individual capable of dealing with violence and other hard shit, then that training MUST be painful and uncomfortable. NOTHING will prepare you for violence except experiencing violence.

Training Should Hurt

The more you push/pull/squat, the stronger you become and the better you’re able to handle heavy stuff in your day-to-day.

The more you train with controlled violence, the better off you will be when confronting real violence. Your first time getting punched in the head should be in a safe and controlled environment, where you can learn to think and fight through it. If the first time you get punched in the head is during a real violent encounter, there’s a high likelihood you’re going to be ineffective in dealing with it.

No one is saying we should be destroying each other in training. The goal is to avoid lasting damage; that impedes our abilities as surely as weakness. It’s important to be safe and controlled, but there should still be pain!

A person yelling in my face is uncomfortable. Someone breaking social norms of communication and personal space is uncomfortable. I need to know what that feels like, and what it does to me emotionally, psychologically and physiologically.

Getting punched in the head hurts. I need to know how that feels, so I know what to expect. Getting punched in the gut hurts, and can make it hard to move and breathe. I need to know how that feels, too.

Full-on violence is highly physically taxing, even with adrenaline. I need to know what I’m capable of, and my physical and mental limits as well. And I need to be able to push those boundaries.

Controlled and structured training is where this happens. It needs to hurt, and it needs to be uncomfortable. Knowing technical responses to attacks is well and good, but will be useless to you if you freeze, panic, or otherwise are unable to effectively respond because you ate a punch, ended up on the ground, or were simply too aghast at the audacity of criminal action directed at you.

Training should hurt. Get over it and get started.