About Being Curious…

by Julie Loeffler

When was the last time you stepped outside of your comfort zone and tried your hand at a new form of personal defense? Yes, I know my audience here, and I don’t mean the last time you picked up a new firearm or tried the latest and greatest ammo. I mean REALLY stepped outside the box and added something equally useful in your training routine.

There’s a certain sense of comfort in familiarity, but there’s also a definite level of confidence that can come from trying something new. When it comes to training for my personal defense, I find that exploring different avenues is well worth the effort even if the new thing isn’t always a perfect fit. Either I like it, or I don’t. Either it’s for me, or it isn’t. Or maybe only part of it works into my personal defense plan (PDP).

My teacher’s teacher used to say, “Absorb what it useful. Reject what is useless. Add what is specifically your own.” This constant learning, this ever-evolving style of personal defense is what I know. It’s how I was taught. It’s also what led me to pick up a firearm, and a knife, to put on a gi, or boxing gloves and head gear, or shin guards. It’s what taught me balance, timing, and an open-mindedness to pursue new avenues in the world of personal defense.

So why am I telling you this? Well I get the impression that there’s a lot of firearms enthusiasts that come to this website for information, and rightfully so. This is one of my ‘go to’ sites for answers to my firearms questions also. But I’m that type of person who’s always wondering what else is out there that could benefit my PDP, and I’m hoping to encourage some of you to think in the same manner.

This year I put together a monthly program of classes called “Be Curious”. My intention is to have others experience new forms of training to see whether or not it’s right for them. This year we’re exploring Handguns / Shotguns / Boxing / Muay Thai / Kali / BJJ / Krav Maga / Cross Fit / Tasers and Pepper Spray and Chess (yes, Chess). Think of it as a buffet of learning for your PDP. If you like something, you can integrate it and get more training. If you don’t, you discard it. Learning that you don’t like something is just as important as learning that you do.

So let’s tackle the big elephants in the room: Time and Money.

Time: If you tell me you don’t have time to do any additional training and you like to “go with what you know”, then ask yourself this: How much time did you spend on Facebook last week “liking” this and “liking” that? Yeah, me too. But if you’re short on time, take 15 minutes and head over to Youtube. Look up something you have been thinking about but just haven’t sat down and researched yet. If it looks interesting, find out where in your area you can take that training. And have fun with it. I affectionately call my 6pm Friday Muay Thai class (that I take) my Happy Hour. Or why not make it a family affair. Husbands, wives and kids can all benefit from a workout with a purpose, and you’ll score bonus points for quality time with the family.

Money: Cost doesn’t have to be a factor either. While weekly instruction on a consistent basis is optimal, let’s be real. If you’re just curious about something, lengthy school contracts with the possibility of a large financial commitment might not fit the bill. But maybe a couple of private instructions would give you enough of a feel to know if you would like to pursue it further. And ask the instructor to show you skills that are applicable in everyday life, not ones that are geared toward sport or tournament fighting.

After the P.I., go home and practice those skills for a while. Trees are free, and we all have them in our backyard or in a public park. They’re great for punching (w/ hand wraps or gloves), kicking (w/ shin guards) or to practice your blade techniques (w/ a bamboo stick, PVC pipe, weighted bar, or broom handle). Get creative. And if you find that you have an affinity for what you’ve just learned, then start thinking about training on a more consistent basis, or schedule a couple P.I. sessions each month.

So, since time and money are no longer an issue, now you just need to figure out what you’d like to explore. What are your weaknesses? What is your body composition? Want to increase your speed or strength? What would compliment your firearms training? Whatever it is, there’s something out there to make that skill set more effective.

Another important point is that it’s easy to get wrapped up in our own egos, but in doing so we lose sight of the importance of learning. I will always be a “white belt” / student in something, and I would encourage you to take that same mindset. What am I curious about this year? Well, lots of things, but I’ve decided to dive into a few in particular: 1) Chess – increasing my critical thinking ability and reinforcing the roles of actions versus consequences, 2) Cross Fit – short bursts of physical activity that provide maximum benefit (And who knows. Learning how to flip a tractor tire just MIGHT save my life someday!), 3) Krav Maga – quick, practical moves always intrigue me.

I will learn these things on top of working a full-time job, running my martial arts / personal defense business, training weekly in BJJ and Muay Thai for personal development, teaching my own classes three evenings a week, and holding monthly BE CURIOUS seminars. My goal isn’t to teach you how to overstuff your already busy schedule, just give yourself permission to be curious. There’s always time for learning and growth. Try one new thing, and if you like it keep it up. If you don’t, find something else.

And yes, I’m already planning my 2014 BE CURIOUS classes. First on the list …Fencing. Wonder why? Look it up!