I’d say that it’s a pretty safe bet that the vast majority of the people reading this have a Military, Law Enforcement, or other 1st Responder background. It’s also a safe bet that we come from every location, color, race, size and shape on the charts. However, as different as we may look, we have many things in common. As a group we entered these occupations knowing that making a lot money wasn’t part of the deal, nor did we go this way because we thought it would be easy, inside work. So why were we looking for something hard, something different, something most people wouldn’t do? Why did a dangerous, arduous life appeal to us? Hard to say exactly, but if you ever tried to explain this to someone who doesn’t get it, you know what I mean. This stuff either appeals to you, or it don’t. I say all this just to point out that most of us who do these things, have a part of our DNA strand that is just wired a little different than most folks. I’ve heard it called the “Warrior Gene”. Some studies have linked the Warrior Gene to increased risk-taking and aggressive behavior. People with the Warrior Gene are not necessarily more aggressive, but they are more likely to respond aggressively to threats and conflicts. We also tend to have high expectations from people (ourselves especially), a low tolerance for failure and bull shit excuses. Then there’s the very common short fuze when we encounter people (or a system), that stops us from accomplishing something. Generally speaking, it’s at least one explanation to why we don’t always play well with others, especially when we’re thrown into the general population.
This mutant gene isn’t just about being an obnoxious prick, it does come with some good stuff too; A high pain tolerance and a stubborn ability to keep going when most others would have quit, a strong set of personal values, like extremes of loyalty and reliability are some, there are many more. I say all this as I think everyone who feels they have may this gene, may want to consider adding an activity to your current workout routine. Not just for health and fitness, but for sanity. That being some type of “combative”. Now we all know that PT helps lower stress, it’s one of the biggest benefits other than just health and fitness.
However, I’m talking about something on the next level of stress relief, that being some type of martial arts training. Over different times in my life I’ve been seriously involved in Karate, Wrestling, Judo and Boxing. I’ve also trained in the basics of Krav Maga with some Cop buddies and of course I put in my time with the Marine Corps Martial Arts program when I was on active duty. From that experience, I think that there is something about participating in those types of activities that provides an outlet for stress like no other. It really gives you a way to vent, without the serious injuries and legal issues that can come with; as one old Gunny I worked for called: “Going Half Apache”, when your pissed off.
Now I haven’t seriously been involved with any of these sports for years, as having the extra time for that in my life has passed for the most part, However, there is one way I do get my combative fix, it’s with the big heavy bag hanging in my garage. At least 2-3 times a week I get it even with the world by just pounding the shit out of that bag. This is something I’ve done since I was in high school and for pure stress relief, there is nothing that matches it. I like to say; it’s therapy not exercise. Beyond the obvious exercise, it very quickly takes the edge off your attitude, I’ve always thought it’s kept me out of jail more than once over the years too, as besides not hitting back, a heavy bag doesn’t file charges.
Plus, there is no doubt that a few 10-15 minute (more if you need it), sessions a week will add some real benefit to almost any PT routine. It builds a certain type of strength and endurance that you really can’t get any other way. If you have no experience with hitting a heavy bag, get someone who does show you how to execute the basic punches properly. Besides a quality heavy bag, you need to get some wraps and gloves to protect your hands. Yes, It’s a few bucks up front to get some quality gear, but after that with very little care, it will all last you many years. My heavy bag has survived about a dozen PCS moves. I even had it smuggled in and out of Iraq to help keep me sane there. You could also join a gym that has a bag you can hit, but IMO it’s better to have it at the house, where it’s ready to take a beating 24/7.
To add a new twist to your PT routine (and help keep you out of trouble), it’s well worth the investment. Give it a try.