Movement and biomechanics are what separate an elite operator from the rest. Aside from that, you need to put in countless hours of training and mental fortitude to be considered one. This post will help you become just that, enabling your firearms to become an extension of your body as opposed to just being another tool in your hands.
Maneuver Like An Elite Operator
1. Fitness Level
Your fitness level has to be addressed if you wish to be successful in any self-defense scenario. When we add in firearms, your fitness becomes even more crucial.
Let’s face it… If SHTF during a home invasion, our limbic system kicks in. Our heart begins to pound, our breathing becomes heavy and exaggerated, and our hands begin to sweat. If your cardio and strength levels are not up to par, you may end up taking yourself out of the conflict right from the beginning, and become useless for both yourself and your loved ones.
Regular exercise has to become part of your weekly routine. I hear from my clients that they really do not have time to incorporate fitness training into their personal practice. I respond with, “Well, then… are you willing to die because you couldn’t find a few hours per week to exercise?” Keep in mind that these clients choose to be armed. With that #2A Right and choice come great responsibility!
Now, this may sound harsh to you, but we are talking about some serious situations here. These scenarios are no joke! We are taking on the responsibility to protect ourselves as well as our families. Just access the “real news” on various sites and you will see and hear about these types of situations happening in the real world every day.
These operators, who we want to move like, invest many hours into their fitness training. Understandably, they train smart with excellent protocols that save them lots of time while achieving the biggest gains in their tactical fitness. As you can imagine, these elite first responders have jam-packed schedules. But they still find the time to get their exercise routine in. Trust me… They do this because they want to come out on top during a battle, NOT because they want to lose weight or get 6-pack abs. But hey, who doesn’t want abs as long as it’s a byproduct of efficient training? 😉
2. Joint Mobility
The concept of joint mobility has been gaining popularity in recent years. I was first introduced to various joint mobility exercises and routines while training and learning Russian martial arts. I would see my teacher's flow in ways that impressed and inspired me. I also became aware that if we are able to use our joints and ligaments to perform work, as opposed to using type II muscle fiber, we will expend much less energy. This enables us to fight longer and recover much faster.
I quickly realized that we are as healthy as our joints. Once our joints begin to stiffen up, that’s when we become “old.” Have you ever seen an 80-year old grandmaster martial artist walk? They seem to glide across the floor as they walk up to their opponent. Well, they have mastered the movement and maintenance of his or her joint mobility.
As we get older, we lose muscle tone and other youthful treasures. However, if you can maintain your joint health, you will remain battle-ready for whatever comes your way. Remember that same grandmaster that we brought up earlier? How do you think that at his age he is still able to wipe the floor with a 20-something-year old student who is much bigger, stronger and younger?
Move your joints and connective tissue in various planes of motion on a daily basis. Some of these routines may seem like something out of a Michael Jackson video but there is a reason why these elite operators perform these movements on a daily basis. The health of your joints and connective tissue directly affects how your body ages.
3. Spinal Alignment
Maintaining a long spine, from your tailbone to the crown of your head, is a must when practicing proper biomechanics. When I am teaching spinal alignment, I explain how we need to have our “antennas” up when we are performing any type of movement. As with all of the tips that I am conveying in this article, when we get into a battle, proper spinal alignment becomes a must.
As we walk around with our firearms at the ready, during a possible self-defense conflict, we need to walk tall. Not only will this give you better vision as we check and clear each room, but it will also increase your reaction time. If we round or arch or backs we are collapsing our lungs, making it more difficult to breathe. As I mentioned earlier, our nervous system will already be kicked into overdrive. It will be tough enough to breathe just by being involved in that scenario; we want to avoid any extra problems from our lung capacity being compromised.
When we fail to maintain a long spine, we tend to place our bodyweight on our toes and/or heels. This gives the “bad guy” a huge advantage because they will be able to break your structure, since you are already halfway there with your poor spinal alignment. Preventing your attacker from grabbing your rifle or shotgun barrel and being able to gain the upper hand by affecting your balance are all valid reasons to maintain your spinal alignment. Proper alignment will also go a long way in improving your marksmanship.
When I begin addressing breathing during training courses I always get a puzzled look. Then I usually receive the wise-ass comment: “I’m excellent at breathing… I do it all the time!” Of course, under duress, things can change.
When we are in a combative situation, we tend to hold our breath. By holding our breath we restrict our movement. Let’s not forget that we are adding to the stress of the current situation by not exhaling. As we go over in the “alphabet” of marksmanship, we need to breathe normally if we expect to hit our target regularly and with a good grouping. We go over this fact as we are killing paper. But what do you think happens when we add in the uncertainties of a combative situation?
Our heart rate will be much higher during a battle situation, wherever it may be. By holding our breath we retain more carbon dioxide. This causes our heart to beat even faster. We need to exhale and exhale forcefully to get rid of the excess tension and lower our heart rate. By doing this you will recover much quicker in an actual self-defense situation.
As the saying goes… He who recovers quickest usually wins!
5. Midfoot Drive
Placing your bodyweight in a midfoot position means that with each step that you take, your weight is between the balls of your feet and your heel; hence the midfoot drive. This offers many advantages regardless of the terrain that you are operating in. Let’s forget about a battlefield situation and just focus on what we may encounter in our homes while trying to address someone wanting to cause harm to our family.
You may have pets and children in your home. This usually adds to extra toys and trinkets lying around and scattered across your floor. Now, add in the fact that the bad guy may have broken some of your goods, which are now on your floor along with the toys. There may be liquid spilled on your floor, or even the possibility of blood. If you were to walk around, regardless of the footwear that you have on, these items may now become obstacles. These obstacles can easily take you out of the fight.
When you take a step and land on your midfoot, you will be able to control the placement of your step and body weight with greater awareness. If you land on your heels or toes and you encounter some of these obstacles, you can easily twist an ankle, alert the enemy of your position, slip, or any other scenario that greatly decreases your chances of boding well in this encounter.
The same way that we develop our sensitivity with our hands and fingers is similar to the way that we need to address our feet and toes. We have to “feel” what our foot position is telling us via neuromuscular feedback. Once we are in tune with each step that we take, we will develop proprioception enabling us to almost, pre-react, giving us a leg up on our enemy. That one principle alone is what separates many of the elite from just another guy with a gun.
Watch all these maneuvers put into action:
As you may realize, there is much more that goes into conducting yourself in the same fashion as these badasses. The mental aspect alone is a whole other subject that makes them who they are. But if you can tie these 5 tips together, not only will you fare better in an emergency, but you will also remain much safer and healthier as you progress through life. If you want to be able to defend yourself and your loved ones with much more effectiveness and accuracy, put some (hopefully all) of these tips into action. It won’t happen overnight but I can promise you that if you train correctly, you will find yourself improving with each passing day.
What do you think of our post on learning to maneuver like an elite operator? Let us know in the comment section below.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2017 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.