Stop Fooling Yourself – Monderno on Physical Fitness and Conditioning

“Fitness is a monumentally important aspect of firearms and self-defense…”

-Aaron Cowan via Stop Fooling Yourself – Monderno.


This article by Aaron Cowan is spot on. Some of you know that a couple years ago, I started training in Krav Maga. While the hand-on skills set is a huge benefit, the real reason I started working out with Jeanna Cournoyer and Mike Williams at Fight Back Fit started with the great GOTR helicopter hog hunt that just happened to land on my 36th birthday.

I flew that day weighing some 340lbs. WAY over the seat limit for the aircraft and though it was a great day, when I saw the photos, I realized I had a problem. I was that guy I knew wasn’t going to last ten seconds in a real fight. Sure, I was fast on the gun. Really fast. But, between knee and back injuries over the years and a career that had me riding a desk for 12-14 hours a day, I simply wasn’t 21 any more. I know some of the older guys, including Jason, are saying, just wait kid…Keep getting older and we’ll talk.

Fact is, that first 30 second stress drill we ran in my first Krav class showed me how long 30 seconds really can be when you’re tasked with maximum exertion for the duration of the fight. Not only was I gassed at the end, I was largely incapacitated. I couldn’t stand up. I was on all fours, gasping for air. There was no way I could reasonably expect to defend my gun if I had to keep someone from taking it, let alone access and use that gun with the accuracy and speed standards stressed in shooting classes I’ve taken over the years.  That drill caused me to flash back to something you don’t hear in every class but, I did hear from Paul Howe, Sonny Puzikas, and a few others who’d been kind enough to take me under their wing over the years…While mindset is critical, the importance of physical conditioning, overall fitness, and endurance are hugely underestimated and neglected by many shooters.

Many will scoff and I get it. Life gets in the way. I’m not going to be jumping out of a burning helicopter any time soon and I am not Jason Bourne. None of that matters, folks. When you’re elected, the fight is on. Just as you have to “run what you brung” in the gun/knife department, the body you’ve got is the one that will either win or lose this fight. The gun or knife might not be available or you’ll have to fight to deploy them. The better shape you’re in, the more effective you’ll be at deploying that gun or knife. And let’s not ignore the fact there is a very strong possibility that you will suffer an injury during your fight. Again, the better shape you’re in before the fight, the better shape you’re likely to be in after the fight.

So where am I after two years? Well, I’m down 65lbs and still falling with plateaus that come here and there. While weight was a big concern, the important part for me is those 30 second stress drills are now occasionally two or three minute drills. While I still find myself feeling momentary exhaustion as anyone would, the recovery doesn’t require 50 minutes of me gasping for air like it did that first day. I can take a 30 second break and get back into the fight in addition to be generally stronger and faster. I’ll never be a kid again but, I am not fooling myself anymore either.