Are fighters born or made? Who knows. That has been well analyzed by many psychiatrists who generally lack the key ingredient of first hand combat experience. Research that on your own if you choose. I will tell you it does not matter. If you were born that way, good for you; if not, MAKE yourself the fighter!
What does it take to become the fighter though? It takes mental training, physical fitness, and of course both general and specific training.
Some call it visualization training. You go over the scenario of choice in your head and examine the ways to make the outcome in your favor, and then you make them work. It is used as positive imagery, to help you think you can defeat Goliath rather than be overcome by fear. Visualizing yourself getting defeated is a sure way to make sure you get defeated. God’s will aside, and faith in God aside, David had an “I will kill this giant” attitude. Do you think the outcome would have been the same if he would have thought like every man in King Saul’s army?
Every day in Iraq, I would mentally go over possible scenarios that could happen, and in those scenarios I would always make myself win. When I say win, I mean that I and mine live and my enemies die. To this day, I still use this method of mental training. If I am walking through the woods with my wife and kids and a black bear runs into us and does not run away instantly, I will be dropping my ruck/daughter for my wife to grab, and I will be going head on, running fast, into the animal. However, what if there is no time to drop my ruck that I carry my daughter in? Well, I may not charge the animal, but rather I’ll go lateral to it while instructing my wife the other direction as I shoot. What if, for some retarded reason, I don’t have my gun? I will dump my ruck, regardless of it all, and go at the animal with my knife or whatever weapon of opportunity I can grab, so my family can get to safety. Is that likely to result in my getting mauled rather than my kicking a bear’s butt? It’s likely, but I’d rather get eaten fighting than never think about it and stare in panic, or try to outrun a bear while carrying my three-year-old and my wife carrying our two year old. The key is that I will make the most aggressive, violent action possible to the point that that bear wonders what is happening to him, as I stab him in the eye with a stick, repeatedly. I do not let anything but my winning enter my mind, no matter the odds. If I had the thought that there was no possible way I’m going to fight off or kill a bear with my pocket knife, then I have already accepted defeat and may as well lie down in the trail and let him eat me and my family. (This is just an example. If you live in Alaska and want to fake dead for a grizzly, work through that in your own mind.)
Throw an angry squirrel into a van full of linebackers. That little guy, through rapid aggressive action, will have big “tough” men jumping out the doors in no time. One good smack is all it would take to kill the squirrel, but the squirrel does not care. All he knows is he wants to destroy everyone in the van, and he will.
What choice should you make? Is there a right choice or a wrong choice? No. Just make a choice, and make it fast, aggressive, and violent. Hesitation will get you killed. Having already lived through similar scenarios in your mind will help your auto pilot work how you taught it to work. All the while, you know if you do die, it will be taking as many of your enemies with you as humanly possible, before you choke to death on your own blood.
This may seem insensitive and harsh, but if you are obese, all the mental visualization training will not get you whopping up on anybody who requires you to do much more then throw your weight on them. Get off your butt, and go hike up a mountain. Don’t give me that “I’m putting on fat for food when the supply dwindles down” excuse. Do you need to look all muscular and fit? No, nor should that be a goal. It may be a byproduct of your training, dependent on your body type, but it is secondary to the focus of being strong, fast, agile, and having endurance. You need endurance to thrown on a ruck and go hiking for ten miles in the dark because your retreat was burned to the ground and half your friends were killed. You need speed to run into firefights or away from firefights, depending on the situation (that is another topic). You need strength to grab your buddy and throw him on your shoulders because his leg just got blown off, or to pull something up a cliff. You also need agility as you run through the woods or walk over rough terrain with your weapon at the ready. Some are born for more of one then the other, but don’t excuse yourself because of your body type. Work is the key word here folks. Do the best with the body type God gave you. If you are truly “big” boned, you should be stronger than an ox without much trouble, but you may have to work for endurance. Smaller builds may have to work more for strength, but you will have better speed and agility. We are all here for different reasons and with different gifts, just make sure you don’t so limit yourself to one thing that you are hopelessly lacking in another.
Ladies, you too can be much stronger than you think. Will you match the strength of a man? No, but that does not mean you should limit yourself to elliptical machines and long walks. Do some pull ups and squats!
I currently work in the medical field, and I can tell you that overweight and obese patients cannot hardly help themselves out of bed when they are remotely sick. Healthy-weighted, 90 year old ladies may have a horrible pneumonia, but they can still walk around. Fat is also harder to grab onto. Take two unconscious men– one who is 200 lbs of muscle, at 5’8′, and the other who is 200 lbs of fat at 5’8″. The fat guy is twice as hard to pick up and move around as the other. So, in addition to making yourself more useful in general, by having a healthy body fat percentage, you make it easier for your buddy to help you if needed.
You will be a better fighter if you are fit. No question about it. Your body will handle stress better. You will live longer, if you don’t get killed first, and you will feel better, sleep better, and even look better. You can get more work done. In general, it just makes sense, but it’s hard to workout. Cry me a river. You think TEOTWAWKI  is going to be easy? Your 1-week practice run of living out of the pantry was easy; try doing that while running security patrols in 0 degree temperatures, getting your compound shot to bits, carrying buckets of water ½ mile since the well went dry, explaining to your kids that Grandma and Grandpa’s house just got burned down since there will be no “sheltering” your children from what will become the new norm. It’s all hard. So go do something that gets/keeps you in shape.
With all that being said, I’m 30 years old. A 50 year old may have a hard time doing what I do. Recognize your limitations but don’t use that as an excuse. I would not currently go on an event that involved swimming a mile. I know that I would be a hazard at this time, since I have not been keeping up on my swimming! Don’t be the one who becomes a liability because you can’t physically do something you should have known was impossible or too difficult for you. If you cannot do a pull up, perhaps you should avoid the event that would require a lot of rope climbing or rock climbing, eh?
Training is getting up and doing it! That is the only way you will learn new things and perfect them. Ever hear about the guy who buys all the latest gear to go hiking with and ends up dumping it or quitting, because he never tried it in the field before he went out on a seven day hunt? The same applies for preparedness. You have a state of the art piston driven AR15 with a $2000 Nightforce scope and Surefire flashlight that you have only shot 40 times out to 100 yards with plinking ammo instead of your “survival” ammo. So, let’s say I come along at 400 yards with my spray painted, scuffed up, AR with a $800 scope with ammo that I know what it does and have it written on my gun because my gun is a tool, not a pretty thing to look at. I am going to kill you and give your fancy AR15 to one of my buddies. Not really, because I am not a murderer, but you get the point, I hope.
I hand-built a child carrier for my 35-pound daughter to attach to my Kifaru ruck, and I have since built a second one that works better. Why? Because I noticed on a 12-mile hike that it did not ride quite right, and I knew I could make it better. The better it rides me, the further I can go and the more useful I am when I get where were going. I no longer wear hoodies with the pass through waist pocket or leave my right lower pocket unzipped on my coats, if I’m openly carrying in the woods, because I’ve noticed a tendency for that little bit of material to stick out enough to catch my muzzle as I draw. How do I know that? I know that from experience drawing in different clothes. If somebody would have told me that, it would have made sense. However, nothing is as good as doing it yourself to figure things out.
Thinking I’m just going to shoot bad guys from my retreat hill top without getting on said hilltop, with my rifle of choice and ranging stuff out and making range cards so I KNOW I can shoot bad guys from said hilltop, is foolish at best. Reading about how to start an IV because your kid got a gut bug and is severely dehydrated is great. Try doing it sometime, because it’s not as easy as it looks on YouTube. If you can’t get it, get an ER nurse to teach you, lest the time you really need it, you cannot do it. Doing mag changes standing in your living room watching a Die Hard 3 is better than nothing, but how about magazine changes while lying in the mud or snow? Or while running? Or after a max set of pullups? Better yet while your buddy throws a bucket of sand or mud on your face?
Train with your gear on that you plan to use! A popular movement now is the IPSC-style shooting. Running from obstacle to obstacle, shooting around stuff, under stuff, and so on is great, right? Aside from the fact that there are some incredible shooters doing these events, let’s look at it in terms of combat patrolling, climbing up mountains or buildings, crossing rivers, and riding horses and four-wheelers, while snowshoeing, and so on: Do you plan to put on a belt that pushes your mags and pistol 2″ out from your body with no form of retention other than friction? What happens when you put on a chest rig for that AR you plan on carrying? What about the body armor and plates you plan on putting on before you hike to your retreat? What about putting on a ruck with all your gear to get from A to B? While not trying to take away any value from IPSC events, I want you to train how you plan to fight. I love friction retention mag holders, for the SPEED and simplicity. Would I jump out of a plane, rappel a cliff, or cross a raging river with such a device? Let me see… No way. Would you? I really like the buckle on my drop holster right in front of my thigh, right until I lay down and it makes more noise than needed by hitting/scraping the floor. So, I move the buckle more to the inside of my thigh and I use retention mag pouches. Is it slower, yes, but they are always there.
Do I like all my gear on my waist? Of course. Well the waist belt on my ruck doesn’t do much good if it has to go around a pistol, three mags, a flashlight, and a knife. Not too long ago, in the Marine Corps as a Scout Sniper, I never used a waist belt with a very heavy ruck at times, just so I could dump that thing faster than a hot potato, if need be. Now I’m not so tough, and my scapula’s hurt from all that abuse, so I use a waist belt most of the time. Other gear is adjusted accordingly. Occasionally, in getting off my rear and putting my gear on, I find the shortcomings in both my setup and my training, so I know what to adjust and/or practice more.
You must also continually train. This may be hard to do, but I think of all the times I have sat on my rear and watched a movie when I could have been training, even in a small way. What a waste. People often think that the military’s special forces are just super human and have so much cool gear that they can’t help but be awesome. Not really, they just train more than the conventional military. Training will make you learn what works and what does not. Head knowledge is nothing, if you have not tested and proven it.
Put the big three together and you will be better at killing the enemy and protecting the good people– family or not, whomever that may be. A fit, trained guy scared of dying is worth little when the going gets rough. A mentally prepared fit guy with no training is worth a little more. A mentally prepared, trained, fit guy or gal is priceless. Remember though, just because you train hard and prepare does not mean you won’t end up crawling through a ditch holding your bowels in with your foot blown off and no ammo left. However, you still have a knife that will take one more evil guy out, right?
As I mentioned earlier, I would return to a certain point about the so called “tough” guys in the Marines I dealt with. They were pansies, thugs, disgraces to the real fighters. Sure, not everybody was a motivated fearless fighter, but at least some did not run from trouble. Remember, that Nazi storm troopers or typical thugs are tough when the odds are in their favor. One thug by his lonesome is going to try to blend in, so he can live another day. He is not likely so dedicated to his cause that he is willing to die for it. A perfect example of this mindset, politics aside, is the Bundy Ranch incident. All the BLM guys were real tough and aggressive until they were massively outnumbered. All of a sudden a bunch of guys “just doing their jobs” were not so anxious to do their jobs any more. Currently, we have SWAT teams taking down one man in one house with MRAPs and 20 officers. If they know the guy is a potential fighter, they up that significantly, like in Waco Texas. I am not using these examples to encourage anything lawless but rather to demonstrate the very common lack of combat mindset that individuals have.